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Loyalty Program Helps USA Track & Field Keep Pace with Its Superfans

USATF superfansOfficials at USA Track & Field (USATF) wanted to learn more about their fans and, at the same time, offer them acknowledgement and rewards in return.

Loyalty360 hosted a webinar on Tuesday titled, “How USA Track & Field Engages Superfans Through Multichannel Loyalty,” which was presented by CrowdTwist. Caleb Bailey, USATF Strategic Programs Manager; and Geoff Smith, SVP, Marketing, CrowdTwist were the featured webinar speakers and they provided a plethora of insights related to the USATF Rewards loyalty program and how to best engage superfans.

“Our main goal was to activate our passionate fan base,” Bailey explained to attendees. “We lacked that way to identify our passionate fans. USA Track & Field superfans are passionate, fanatical consumers. We had an existing fan base, but we needed a way to activate them.”

As a result, USATF launched its multichannel loyalty program, powered by CrowdTwist, in January 2014. USATF leverages CrowdTwist’s analytics solution to determine its superfans based on rank. On average, USATF superfans complete five to 10 activities per day whereas traditional fans complete four to five actions per week.

USATF leverages CrowdTwist analytics to identify its superfans according to a ranking system, Bailey explained.

There are seven levels of the ranking system: Future Star, Bronze, Silver, Gold, World Record Holder, Hall of Fame, and Legend. USATF’s top fans have reached the World Record Holder level, Bailey said. Fans need to be very active to reach this level. From there, USATF segments further based on social activity and social influence and determines how best to engage.

Bailey said some of the activities members can complete are: Logging into the USATF Reward site, watching a video, reading an article, and using the hashtag #USATF on Twitter.

“We ran a sweepstakes March 18-April 15 that offers winners the chance to see the 2015 IAAF World relays in Nassau, Bahamas and meet athletes from the No. 1 track team,” Bailey said. “During the sweepstakes, 41 percent of Rewardians were active daily for the week of the launch. We also saw a 10 percent increase in new Rewardians since sweeps launch.”

Why superfans matter

Smith outlined why superfans matter:

Superfans go to the extreme to demonstrate brand loyalty

They consistently buy your products or sign up for your membership

Superfans frequently engage with your brand on social media

They believe in the very things your brand stands for

“These diehard loyalists represent a different breed of consumers,” Smith explained. “Simply put, superfans are the individuals who understand your brand and personally align with your value proposition. They are among the first to learn about new products and services, and they buy from you (or choose your brand) over and over again. What’s more, superfans are already engaging with you on social media and other channels. They are willing to advocate for you—whether through positive social Word-of-Mouth with friends and family, or by developing their own content. This group shows its allegiance by buying, tweeting, commenting, reviewing, and creating conversations online because they love your brand. Superfans are passionate consumers and they are willing to share and spread their fandom with others.”

Brands that inspire a higher emotional intensity receive three times as much Word-of-Mouth than less emotionally-connected brands, Smith noted.

According to Market Charts, brand advocates are 75 percent more likely to share product information; and brand advocates are 70 percent more likely to be seen as a good source of information by people around them.

Identifying track and field fans

USA Track and & Field identifies its superfans by their social engagement, brand loyalty, and program activity. Here are some figures:

12,762,035: The number of timeline deliveries using #USATFrewards with a reach of 1,435,260

29,427: The number of incentivized hashtags since inception in January 2014

30,110: The number of retweets

4,251: The number of fans who used the #USATFrewards hashtag

Timeline Deliveries represent the total possible number of times someone could have viewed a particular message.

“We use Hashtracking to provide the data,” Bailey said. “There is no way to calculate how many of these deliveries were actually read, much as there is no way to calculate how many times a magazine ad is viewed, but timeline deliveries give us an idea about how broadly the message has been circulated. We’re very pleased with the results we’ve seen.”

USA Track & Field uses the following metrics to identify its superfans: Customer Spend and Frequency, Recency/Frequency, Multichannel, Online Engagement and Frequency, Social Engagement and Frequency, Recency/Frequency of social activity, and Sentiment level.

“We’re not saying that consumers who tweet five times a day should be the sole criteria for you to define a superfan for your brand,” Smith said. “You really need to decide what metrics you need to track and do the analysis for your specific brand. Whatever metrics you decide are important to your brand should be made on a brand-by-brand decision.”

Rewarding the super fans

Bailey said USATF does many things to identify its superfans, including call-outs on social media. USATF sends top fans surprise gifts, such as batons and autographed postcards, based on their interests. Surprise gifts, he said, are also a good driver to engage ‘quiet’ fans to encourage them to interact with USATF. While it’s important to identify your most engaged customers or fans, Bailey said brands should also reach out to those least engaged in an attempt to make them more valuable.

USA Track & Field, for example, asks fans to name their favorite track and field moments and athletes.

“This gives us ways to engage with fans later,” Bailey said. “This tells us what is important to our fans, and we can create or target new rewards items that are catered to those interests.”

One of USATF’s most successful examples was a fan who had not logged on in months.

“After receipt of her surprise reward, she became active daily,” Bailey said. “This fan shared her surprise socially, and her favorite athlete (Sanya Richards-Ross) commented and reinforced the perks of being a part of the program.”

Bailey said that USATF allow some superfans to spend time on the track before the event and hold the finish line tape. Another superfan visited a TV truck during a live broadcast and co-hosted the post-event wrapup show.

Smith said it’s crucial to reward superfans for their loyalty.

“To build relationships with your superfans, you need to continually motivate your loyal followers,” he explained. “It’s important to give superfans reasons to keep engaging with your brand and talking about it.”

USATF Rewards allows fans around the world to connect, compete, and be rewarded for interacting with the USATF brand and partners across multiple media platforms. Items such as autographed memorabilia, special edition collector’s items, and individualized fan experiences are some of the awards.

With a rewards portal powered by CrowdTwist, fans earn “wings” or points for specific actions. Social media platforms provide innovative opportunities for fans to accumulate points through activities and engagement. Renewing a USATF membership, watching broadcasts on USATF.tv, retweeting a post from @USATF or using #USATF hashtags are a few of the many ways fans can earn wings.

Tips to develop superfans

“Offer unique experiences or surprises,” Bailey said. “Keep superfans on their toes and send an occasional gift to demonstrate your appreciation of their loyalty and advocacy. Consumers are interacting with you across multiple channels so it’s essential for you to connect with them across social. Don’t just focus on one channel (email) and think you are done. To engage even more followers, determine who has stopped engaging with you or your least engaged consumers. Give them a reason to come back and spread the word.

Bailey said once a brand identifies its superfans, “it’s imperative that you don’t ignore them. Continually engage your loyalists. Offer special activities or missions just for them, and reward them for their advocacy.”

Bailey offered another example of one of USATF’s superfans that was highlighted at The Prefontaine Classic in Eugene, OR.

“One of our most active fans logged on to our site and said his favorite athlete was (2012 Olympic Decathlon Gold Medalist) Ashton Eaton,” Bailey said. “Ashton sent him a video thanking him for his support of USATF. Once the fan got it, he freaked out. It generated a lot for the brand. It was a really positive tactic.”

Bailey said he wants USATF to continue to give more and more to its fans.

“They are excited to see what new activities we have in store,” he said. “We want to leverage the loyalty program at a deeper level onsite at event so they can really soak in the track and field experience. We also want to integrate ecommerce into the program.”

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