Use the popularity of sports like football to incentivize students and increase attendance across the board. An increase of over 120,000 check-ins in the program’s first three years.
Though the school already had a student engagement program in place prior to this, it was separated into two programs, one of which focused on football, basketball and baseball, and the other on Olympic sports. The athletic department was looking to combine the two and create a loyalty rewards program. The motivation behind this change was a situation that affected South Carolina and is commonplace for many schools both in the Southeastern Conference and across the country. For South Carolina, the popularity of football ruled student interest, and attendance at other sports was suffering. Consequently, with their new blanket student rewards program, South Carolina aimed to use this situation to their favor and leverage the interest in football to raise attendance and engagement in the other Olympic sports. In doing so, they would use football tickets as an impetus to get students to these other events.
Joe O’Clair, Assistant Director of Marketing, began the search for platforms capable of both achieving their
goal and expanding their program to a mobile app and eventually came across SuperFan. The adaptability of SuperFan’s platform convinced O’Clair to work with the company and create Gamecock Rewards.
After choosing SuperFan and developing the program, O’Clair and the department implemented a dynamic promotion plan across a variety of channels to create awareness of Gamecock Rewards among as many students as possible, as quickly as possible. They distributed email blasts to the student body, pushed the program through all of their social media platforms, circulated handouts with information about the program, and maintained an on-campus presence at sports events and during Welcome Week to advertise the program. They also established key benchmarks for users, and gave away prizes to students each time these benchmarks were reached. As a result of these efforts, the department was successful in spreading the word about Gamecock Rewards, receiving buy-in across campus, and, most importantly, increasing user registration. This success at the outset established a strong foundation from which Gamecock Rewards has continued to grow. Student attendance has increased at all games and events progressively each year. In 2014, there were 86,961 check- ins. In 2015, there were 156,326 check-ins. In 2016, there were 207,003 check-ins. This shows a 79.77% increase in event check-ins the first year of the program, a 32.42% increase in event check-ins in the second year of the program, and a total of 138% increase in user check-ins from 2014 to 2016.
SuperFan was able to tailor the platform to our needs instead of requiring us to change our program to fit the platform. It’s an easy way for us to reach a large number of students. Now we can get to more people and get to them a lot quicker on the devices they spend the most time.
This is a monumental audience with which O’Clair and his department can directly communicate via the platform’s mobile app and push notifications features. Accordingly, they are able to distribute information and instantly reach students on their phones.
Gamecock Rewards’ achievements have also strengthened ties within the community. Local businesses have seen the rapid progress and extensive reach of the program and established sponsorship deals, which in turn has expanded the assortment of prizes for students. Additionally, other on- campus and athletic department programs, like Gamecock Club and student ticketing, have supported the platform’s incentive-based goals and helped it grow even further.
“We have had tremendous buy-in from student life on campus and they have helped us spread the word about the app and all of its benefits,” O’Clair said.
Since incentivizing students with football tickets through Gamecock Rewards, there has been a significant increase in attendance at all school events. All of this—the augmented attendance and engagement, the magnified reach, and the community buy-in—means that South Carolina is poised to continue on this path of success of increasing attendance across the board. The versatility of the SuperFan platform has allowed O’Clair to keep Gamecock Rewards evolving, an imperative attribute today when athletic programs vie for student attention among a barrage of entertainment and information. With this platform and the advanced metrics it provides, the department is able to construct portraits of who their fans are—what year they are in school, which events they attend, and what they like about an event—and therefore can earn their loyalty easily: by delivering the experiences fans want!