Two weeks ago, I received an email from the Buffalo Bills about a new rewards program they were launching called “My Bills Rewards”
Seems like a good concept, and other teams have run different types of affinity rewards programs. So what is the value of a program like this?
- Provide additional value to your customers to build loyalty. This is the biggest reason behind most traditional affinity programs. Ironically though, in sports, most customers already have a high degree of affinity and loyalty, so creating a separate program for that purpose may not have a significant impact. For newer teams without much history, teams in more transient markets, or teams that have under-performed, these programs could have more impact on customer retention.
- Provide more value to your corporate partners. Depending on who the Bills are working with and how this particular program is structured, you’d think that Bills partners are probably featured heavily in the program. If enough Bills fans participate, this can create a nice additional (and easily measured) revenue source for the team’s sponsors.
- Increase the chance for renewals and up-sells. By giving participants double credit if they apply rewards to ticket purchases, there’s a greater opportunity to convert participation into additional ticket purchases by providing a “discount” to program members.
The biggest challenge with these programs is driving adoption. It requires a great deal of communication and promotion to generate the number of participants needed for a sustainable, profitable rewards program. And even if this email campaign creates a large initial influx of registrations, there needs to be enough value and communication from the rewards program to keep participants engaged and coming back. It will be interesting to see how this program does and how the team decides to promote it moving forward.