Already equipped with a practiced rewards system and a sizable fan base, Harvard’s Associate Director of Athletics Susan Byrne and her staff made the decision to focus on certain events and update their CrimZone Rewards program to the SuperFanU platform, and immediately saw exponential increases in attendance.
Although the CrimZone Rewards program has seen a flood of recent success, the program itself is not new, and its roots extend back to spring of 2011, when it was introduced in order to improve attendance at sports events. With this first instance, Byrne and her staff used a card-swipe program to measure check-ins at each event, which in turn lead to an increase in fan interaction. However, the growth had begun to level off and Byrne and her team were looking for different ways to reach the students, so they made two distinct changes: they converted their program to a SuperFanU app, and chose to focus much of their efforts on promoting a few games, in order to capture and hold a wider range of fan attention.
The results have been staggering. Since the changes, participation has increased across the board, and at certain games attendance has doubled. The Men’s Varsity Hockey team experienced a record attendance of over 590 students at their Ivy League Championship game against Cornell this February. Furthermore, since the program’s introduction, events like Women’s Rugby, Softball, and Baseball have experienced spikes in attendance by an astounding 250% and 1,000%, respectively.
As it turns out, the reasons have been twofold: coupling the athletic and marketing department’s strategic overhaul with the way in which Byrne has used the SuperFanU app’s capabilities has allowed the CrimZone Rewards program to flourish.
The main selling point in changing [our] program to the SuperFanU engagement platform was the ability to add points to reward fans for game and event attendance.
With the new SuperFanU-created CrimZone Rewards program, students are able to check in to games and amass points for a chance to earn prizes, and can receive extra points and special offers for attending certain games. However, it is the program’s versatile features that have proved to be the largest boon for Byrne and the athletic department.
At any time, Byrne and her staff can adjust the available point totals for any event, including those they have designated as especially important. They can also utilize the program’s push notifications to remind the students to attend these events, and alert them to in-game promotions like a free t-shirt or pizza. Consequently, these events are always top of mind for students, who have more of an incentive to attend.
In addition to utilizing the SuperFanU platform, Byrne has worked with Athletic Marketing Manager Andrew C. Vatistas and the rest of the athletic marketing team to ramp up on-campus marketing and promotion of selected games as well as the program itself. This heightened promotion, and in particular the focusing of efforts on a few designated events, has been hugely successful in increasing awareness of the events, the program, and the potential rewards amongst students, which has in turn enhanced engagement.
Overall awareness has increased tremendously from when we started four years ago. Along with notifications through our app, a lot of it is social media and our weekly email blast.
Evidence of the success of this awareness was no more prevalent than with the first game of the year, the Women’s Varsity Soccer match. Byrne and Vatistas promoted this event heavily through the app and on campus, using other events like the Camp Harvard Barbecue to pass out fliers and spread information about the program and the game. The result? Nearly 600 fans checked in to watch the team play Boston College—one of the highest levels of engagement to date.