April 1, 2014, 10:07 AM

USA Track & Field starts an online rewards program

Fans earn “wings” for purchasing merchandise or interacting with the brand socially. The wings are redeemable for prizes including autographed track and field gear.

Lead Photo

A screenshot of the USA Track & Field Rewards page.

USA Track & Field, the nation’s governing body for track and field events, has debuted its first rewards program for fans who purchase official merchandise or interact with the brand on social media. With a nod to Greek mythology’s speedy Hermes and his winged sandals, those actions garner fans “wings,” can be redeemed for prizes including apparel and VIP event access, according to the track and field organization. Since the rewards program debuted Jan. 27, the consumer response has been “tremendous,” says Caleb Bailey, strategic programs manager at USA Track & Field, without giving exact figures.

“We are rewarding fans for things they have always done with us, and we want to encourage consistent engagement with the USATF brand,” he says. For example, a fan that watches a full mini-series on USATF.tv earns 1,000 wings, while connecting to the organization on Facebook earns 500 wings and reading an article on the web site, USATF.org, earns five wings. Viewers can also earn wings for sharing videos on social media with USATF hashtags, Bailey says. When a fan has accumulated enough points, she can click to redeem an item—perhaps a jacket autographed by famed sprinter Wallace Spearman for 75,000 wings—in the rewards section of the site, and USA Track & Field will send it to her.

Because a fan must be signed in to her rewards account with either an e-mail address or social media credentials to earn the wings, USA Track & Field is able to track each individual’s activity. It can also require, for example, that the consumer watch a minimum number of minutes of a video in order to win the wings, Bailey says. “These logins are vital in growing the sport because we can set parameters for required minutes watched and ultimately increase overall viewership,” he says.

Called USA Track & Field Rewards, the program is built on web-hosted software from marketing technology provider CrowdTwist Inc. CrowdTwist allows clients to measure such customers attributes as age, gender, location, social influence, recent activity and online purchasing history.

“That data, in turn, helps us understand who our fans are, what makes them tick, what content is of interest to them, how they connect with us and what their social media behavior patterns are,” Bailey says. “We were impressed with [CrowdTwist’s] success in working with a professional sports team, and we realized we could do something very similar to not only hit our own goals but to also measure brand experiences and improve the overall quality of our data collection.” He did not name the sports team.

CrowdTwist also allows USA Track & Field to connect its rewards program with its e-commerce site in order to create special promotions for members, such as weekend-only limited- time sales, Bailey says. The organization is still working to complete that functionality, following step-by-step directions from CrowdTwist, he says. According to director of retail and marketing operations Amy Henson, approximately 40% of the organization’s merchandise sales come through the web, with fans placing most of those orders at track and field events.

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