SBJ/August 13-19, 2012/Franchises

Dolphins launch ‘Fin’ loyalty club

The Miami Dolphins have generated nearly 5,000 sign-ups during an initial launch phase of a new consumer loyalty effort called The Fin Club, powered by New York-based startup CrowdTwist.

The Dolphins hope to reward loyal fans of the team, which has missed the playoffs of late.
Photo by: GETTY IMAGES
The Fin Club, which made its debut last month, represents an effort by the Dolphins to measure, analyze and reward all trackable fan behavior around the team both online and offline. The Fin Club assigns fan points for virtually any Dolphins-related activity, such as buying tickets and merchandise, following the team on Facebook and Twitter, and visiting the team website.

Points can then be redeemed for rewards, many of them not available for general purchase, such as a chance to run out the team flag during player introductions at a Dolphins home game, interviewing players as a “Finsider Reporter of the Day,” or hosting a business meeting in the team’s locker room.

After CrowdTwist developed a client base primarily around consumer and lifestyle-oriented brands, the Dolphins deal represents its first major sports pact. The Fin Club, accessible through the Dolphins.com official site, will be promoted through team-controlled outlets and at Sun Life Stadium.

Other teams across the four major U.S. sports leagues have sought to develop similar loyalty programs to measure and develop fan affinity, working with competing outlets such as Fortress GB. CrowdTwist executives say their platform fully measures and blends online and offline activity that often have been separate data feeds. The Fin Club program has also been integrated with the point-of-sale network at Sun Life Stadium.

The CrowdTwist system also uses a proprietary scale that measures the level of spending and the social media influence individual fans in the Fin Club program have on others. That segmentation of the audience provides the Dolphins a level of insight into consumer behavior and fan psychographics that it did not have.

“We’re thinking about loyalty in a very holistic fashion,” said Irving Fain, CrowdTwist chief executive and co-founder. “The basic idea is look at every single touch point with the team, offline and online, in a totally comprehensive way and then be able to perform an extensive amount of analysis on that data.”

Financial terms of the partnership were not disclosed, but the deal is described by team and company executives as a licensing structure in which the Dolphins pay for access to the technology platform. Club officials are looking to quickly get a user base well into five figures, and perhaps six figures, by early in the NFL season.

The Dolphins have made the playoffs just once in the last decade, creating softer ticket demand than in many other NFL markets and a heightened need to engender fan loyalty. But team executives said the CrowdTwist program would have begun even if the Dolphins were perennial contenders.

“This is something we would have done regardless of record,” said Claudia Lezcano, Dolphins senior vice president and chief marketing officer. “What we’re after is a true best-in-class program that really rewards fans for what they’re already doing.”

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