App Best Practices: Loyalty Programs

Loyalty programs are all the rage these days.  Everyone from Starbucks to Virgin Airlines is investing in loyalty programs to keep their customers engaged and ultimately spend more on their brands.  Sports teams should be jumping into launching their own loyalty programs, especially since loyalty is inherent in the relationship between sports fans and their teams.

Loyalty programs are about keeping fans connected to their teams every day. Therefore, mobile devices that are with fans just about 24/7 are key tools in an effective loyalty initiative.  In this edition of App Best Practices, we discuss how loyalty programs can be implemented into team apps and what teams should be doing with their fan loyalty programs.

1.) What do I get for loyalty and how do I get it?

Most loyalty programs utilize a points system to award fans for certain actions.  But it’s important that teams plan out proper point values, so fans can easily see in the app which prizes they stand to win.  When fans can see what rewards they can earn, it incents more engagement with your team loyalty program.  Therefore, it also vital to always let fans track how many points they have accrued.  There should always be an option for a fan to see what they’ve accumulated and what else they need to do to get certain prizes.  Make everything as visible as possible on the app.

2.) Make actions INSIDE your mobile app valuable to the fans

Make specific actions in the app valuable for fans.  This doesn’t mean awarding points to your fans just for simply opening the app, but goes beyond this.  An example of this is rewarding fans when they perform actions like sharing content from the app on social media or buying tickets.  Exchange value for value and make them work just a little bit for their points so they know their rewards are worth something.

3.) Integrate real-world actions with the app loyalty program

Fans are going to be interacting with your teams outside of the app, especially when they’re in the venue.  Teams still need to be able to reward them for these actions through the app, however.  Here is where scan-able QR codes can come into play.  Teams should be putting up QR codes at points of sale in the venue, like merchandise and concessions booths, and have fans scan these codes when purchasing.  Teams may also execute this through manual entry codes (alpha-numeric) as well. Doing all of this allows fans to use the app to engage with the team in the mobile AND the real-world and ultimately lets fans be fans, and be rewarded for doing so, everywhere they go.

4.) Utilize push notifications to award your fans

One powerful way to utilize the app for a loyalty program is to use push alerts to send out loyalty codes to fans to gain points.  This becomes particularly powerful when teams can segment fans by group and/or location to push specific notifications to award specific fans at specific times in specific places!  For example, setting up a geo-fence around the venue to send a push notification with a points code to only those fans attending the game can be a powerful driver of loyalty.  Similarly, sending out targeted notifications thanking season-ticket holders for being loyal to the team with points codes to redeem can be a great way to reward your biggest fans.  Teams can get creative with these and should use them to drive fans to engage with the team in the loyalty program.

Mobile apps are already one of the most engaging tools available.  Combining them with a loyalty program and the iundying loyalty inherent in the sports industry can give sports a powerful way to fully engage with their fans at deeper levels.  Teams should be quickly looking to invest in these tools to fully maximize engagement and ultimately enjoy incremental revenue and fans that last a lifetime.

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