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NEWS: Success Story – The RFL, InCrowd & Rewards4 blend engagement and loyalty

The RFL and InCrowd have worked together with Rewards4 to expand the highly successful Rewards4Rugby League loyalty programme, utilising fan data-driven push notifications to increase engagement.

Overview

Over the last 3 years, InCrowd has worked closely with The RFL and their partners to produce Our League, a world-class membership platform that boasts over 145,000 active members to date. During planning for the 2020 season a priority was placed on an enhanced integration with loyalty scheme provider Rewards4. For the launch of the platform back in 2017, Rewards4Rugby League, InCrowd and The RFL built a scheme that rewarded predictor performance. The predictor is a season-long engagement feature in which fans votes for match outcomes and try to climb the leaderboard to win money can’t buy prizes. Points won during the season counted towards discounts off a variety of rugby league tickets including The Coral Challenge Cup Final, and the Betfred Super League Grand Final. Since the start of the 2018 Betfred Super League season, nearly 27,000 predictor players have won a combined total of £70,000 worth of Rewards4Rugby League points, from this single touchpoint.

Given the unprecedented level of engagement with Our League’s predictor along with polls and player of the match voting, all parties were keen to build on these the strong foundations and further enhance the Rewards4Rugby League experience for Our League members.

The Solution

In time for the 2020 season, InCrowd, The RFL and Rewards4 collaborated to introduce an advanced push notification integration that would drive further engagement with the Rewards4Rugby League platform, through tailored and automated notifications in relations to points accrued by the fan. With this new development in place, predictor, polls and player of the match participants receive an automatic push notification informing them that they have earned points. This push notification’s call to action is relevant to the individual user’s Rewards4Rugby League account status. If they are already registered, the push prompts them to directly access their account. If new to the Rewards4 programme, the push encourages them to create an account at that moment. 

Integrating this smart push notification system increases the benefits of the loyalty scheme beyond those who perform well on the predictor, to Rugby League fans who take part in any of the fan activations within Our League. The programme now delivers four ways in which Our League members can accrue points:

  • Achieving streaks of correct predictions
  • Participating in the predictor, polls or player of the match voting

How it works

Results

The launch of the Rewards4Rugby League push notification integration has surpassed all expectations, with Our League members responding positively to seeing tangible benefits from their enhanced engagement with the Our League platform. 

Over the course of the 2019 season (February to October), Rewards4Rugby League members participated in 14.4% of the polls, player of the match and predictor questions available.

During the period of February to mid-March 2020 (pre Covid-19), participation from the same users rose to 32.9%, a 128% increase.

Nichola Spencer, Membership Manager, RFL: “For The Rugby Football League the further integration with Rewards4 and InCrowd has been a real win for our Members. We are able to offer members an extra financial incentive which encourages further engagement fans can spend on Rugby League ticketing and retail with no additional costs for The RFL. The integration is now a seamless experience for users and we look forward to adding more engagement touchpoints for them in the future.”

The numbers:

  • 85,000+ interactions with Our Leagues polls, predictor and player of the match vote.
  • 15,177 users have linked their Our League and Rewards4Rugby League accounts since the launch of the programme in 2018, an average of 419 accounts a month.
  • 2,305 accounts were linked in February 2020 as a result of the push notification integration.
  • 9,500 unique members have collected points as a result of Our League engagements.
  • 6,900 of these were existing Rewards4Rugby League members
  • 2,600 were new members
  • 1.7 million cumulative points have been collected.
  • 9, the average Rewards4Rugby League related engagements per member, where points have been collected

Tom Cowgill,  Director Rewards4: “It’s clear from these early results that if you make it simple and seamless for a fan to collect points for engaging with your app and those points actually have a value to the fan then, a) you have happy fans and b) they engage more with the content in your app.  Our integration with InCrowd enables OurLeague members to collect points within the app for voting on man of the match, entering a predictor or a poll.  This has clearly resonated with fans and the feedback has been wholly positive (as is evidenced by the Trustpilot review from Lee).  We are looking forward to working with the RFL and InCrowd to introduce more points collection touchpoints within the app and seeing even higher levels of engagement once the season recommences in August 2020.”

Benefits

  • Fans receive clear, monetary benefits for engaging with the sport that they love. These can be redeemed against ticket purchases such as the Coral Challenge Cup Final.
  • The RFL benefits from both greater engagement and satisfaction from rugby league fans, and increased revenue from discounted purchases by the fans using the programme.

Lee left a five star review on Trust Pilot: “An excellent concept. I earn points for picking man of match for instance by effectively a few clicks. Those points turn into pence which add up to pounds and recently turned the pounds to a voucher which was spent easily. A very good and easy way to earn money for that jersey you want or tickets to see your team.”

Darren Parsons, InCrowd: “We were confident this addition would be well received by the rugby league fanbase that are already highly engaged with the Our League platform, but the numbers seen straight from launch were even more positive than expected. As a result of a few strategies consulted on by InCrowd and actioned by the RFL, there has been a marked increase in engagement across a wide variety of Our League features which is great to see. We’ll continue to monitor this closely and explore how we can develop the offering to fans further.”

RFL’s Our League named as a finalist at the Sports Business Awards

Our League, the Rugby Football League’s membership scheme for fans, players, coaches, volunteers and viewers, has earned the game further national recognition with a nomination in a second major sports awards ceremony this spring.

Our League is in the running for a Sports Business Award on May 31 in the Best Fan Engagement Programme category. This is the second award nomination of the awards season, having already been included on the shortlist for Best Fan / Community Engagement for the BT Sports Industry Awards on April 25. This second nomination comes after Our League recently celebrated breaking through the 100,000 members milestone, showing just how much Rugby League means to the fans.

Mark Foster, the RFL’s Chief Commercial Officer, said: “It’s great to have this recognition for the sport, and also for the people who have worked so hard to establish and develop Our League since it was launched in late 2017.“It was the first Rugby League OTT platform, allowing more matches and features to be broadcast and watched than ever before – and a pivotal part of our strategy for ensuring that Rugby League is well-placed to capitalise on the opportunities provided by the digital revolution.”

Launched in Autumn 2017 in partnership with InCrowd, the membership scheme has improved fan experience and engagement for lovers of Rugby League at all levels of the game, offering exclusive content, predictor games, ticket offers, money can’t buy benefits and prizes via the digital platforms – app (iOS & Android) and website that members can access. This season Rugby League personalities such as Andrew Henderson and Jamie Jones-Buchanan have led extensive coverage of the Betfred Championship and League One competitions, focusing on the best tries and matches through the week – as well as providing live and exclusive coverage every weekend.

This weekend (30th March) focus turns to the Coral Challenge Cup, with the Our League cameras focusing on the famous St Helens amateur club Thatto Heath, and their attempt to spring an upset against North Wales Crusaders. That will be followed by a blockbuster opening fixture from the fast-growing Women’s Super League on April 7, as Wigan Warriors launch their defence of the title against fierce local rivals St Helens.

Darren Parsons, Marketing Account Manager at InCrowd said, “Recently smashing the 100K member mark, Our League continues to be a great project to work on in close collaboration with the Rugby Football League. It’s been amazing to see fans from all corners of the Rugby League community come together and find something to engage with on the platform; it’s fast becoming an absolute must-have, for every fan.”

Download the Our League app on Apple iOS and Android or visit rugby-league.com to sign up for FREE!

InCrowd and the RFL take fan engagement to the next level with interactive video polls

InCrowd’s introduction of video polls, powered by FanScore, has driven engagement levels up for the Rugby Football League’s successful membership platform, OurLeague, enabling the RFL to further develop direct relationships and continue to create unique experiences, for every fan.

Polls have been a popular part of the OurLeague platform since March 2018, with the effective and widely participated Man Of The Match vote now broadcast, updated and announced live for various fixtures throughout the season. This new introduction of video polls takes the fan experience to the next level, giving fans the power to make personal choices based on real life game situations and referee decisions. A strategic system of app notifications, social updates and email communications ensure no fan misses the opportunity to cast their vote and have their say.

Perhaps most importantly, fans participating in the video polls are encouraged to do so behind an official FanScoreID from InCrowd, as opposed to a social login to verify and log their selections. Social may drive higher numbers but these are all anonymous to the rights holder. With this FanScore authentication, the RFL are able to learn more about their fans and can therefore serve them with relevant, personal content and activations based on past engagements.

“The live Man of The Match poll has generated incredible engagement numbers and we’re really pleased to be able to add yet another dimension to the fan experience for OurLeague members, whilst continuing to learn more about rugby league fans. The development of the video polls is an exciting prospect for us; we’re looking forward to working on new ideas with the InCrowd team.” – Nichola Spencer, Membership Manager, Rugby Football League.

The Try or No Try video poll went live in August, with Lewis Tierney’s 2016 try against Warrington during the Super 8s as the first video poll to take place. The poll received 1,438 votes over six days with a split decision of 51% Try to 49% No Try, giving a perfect edge-of-your-seat start to the video poll’s integration. The poll itself is a collaboration between the RFL and Patient Claim Line, who already sponsor the big screen video decisions in live Sky Sports games. The poll also ties in brilliantly with their tagline “know for sure” and their key message of “checking all the evidence before making a crucial decision”, making this video poll not only an exciting interactive feature for fans, but an effective and seamless activation for the RFL’s partner.

“The Try or No Try video poll is a perfect activation opportunity for us; the nature of the poll compliments our brand messaging and its really exciting to see such a close call on the first poll plus really encouraging participation numbers from the get-go.” – Alex Kenny, Marketing Director, Patient Claim Line

InCrowd are excited about the successful introduction and future of video polls as a key feature of the fan experience, for the RFL audience and across the sports industry.

Visit the Our League website here

Download the iOS app

Download the Android app

 

Rugby League – A Sport Like No Other.

In my 10 years working in the sports industry I have been lucky enough to work on a variety of sports including football, motorsport, rugby union, tennis and cricket. One sport that had evaded me until last year was rugby league, a sport that I only had a passing knowledge of. Since June ’17 I have immersed myself in all things rugby league through InCrowd’s relationship with the Rugby Football League (RFL). I’ve attended the Ladbrokes Challenge Cup Final, Betfred Super League Grand Final, visited most of the grounds in the Super League and met some great people along the way.

To say this sport has been a breath of fresh air to me would be an understatement. Rugby League can boast an enviably diverse fan base, competitiveness & entertainment, passion & pride and down to earth, approachable players invested in growing their sport.

So what makes rugby league so special, and how are we working with the RFL to engage their already voracious and loyal fans? Let me tell you about my most recent experiences with the sport….

Membership

I project managed InCrowd’s development of the RFL’s free membership platform and app, named Our League. The platform that encapsulates all things Rugby League, launched on the 16th October 2017. Our League evolved quickly providing a second screen experience during the Rugby League World Cup 2017 with exclusive live streaming and behind the scenes footage. It also produced over 1,000 winners via the “predict & win” competition including tickets, signed shirts and a trip to Australia to watch the World Cup final between England and Australia.

Since then, the benefits have extended to loyalty schemes, ticket discounts, more exclusive content and a recently created a player dashboard for players to see their stats and compared themselves with others in their league. The successful predict and win competition has extended in to the Betfred Super League season with nearly 14,000 players to date, while Our League members have control of the Betfred Man of the Match vote as presented during live Sky Sports broadcasts. Development is also underway to extend the match centre to include community leagues and there is far more to come in the near future to engage all corners of the Rugby League audience.

Season Launch

In January this year, I was lucky enough to attend the RFL season launch. Our League, and its importance in growing the sport between now and the UK hosted 2021 Rugby League World Cup featured in Interim CEO Ralph Rimmer’s keynote speech. Super League representatives from all clubs were in attendance. Players and coaches from all clubs were in attendance including 2017 Man of Steel Luke Gale, England World Cup star Jermaine McGillvary and Harry Sunderland Trophy winning Danny McGuire. After photos and press interviews the players took part in sponsor led challenges whilst coaches were quizzed on their hopes and expectations for the coming season.

I got the chance to speak to some of the World Cup predictor winners; Rob, James  and Antony. They told me that they had played for fun and love of the game. They were extremely surprised to hear that their engagement in the predictor had culminated in such an amazing prize. That prize was 2 premium tickets to every major event this year including the England vs New Zealand series. The guys also recalled several pieces of content and polls that were published during the World Cup and spoke highly of the app’s user experience.

Antony said “my wife didn’t believe I had won and thought it was a scam. It’s a good job I didn’t win trip to Brisbane. I’d have had to choose between my wife and son!”

James took to Twitter to post the following:

 The Future of Rugby League

I feel that one of the biggest challenges facing rugby league in the UK is the lack of awareness and engagement in the south. Rugby union dominates there and the annual Challenge Cup Final provides only a glimpse of what this sport has to offer. I took my 10-year-old nephew to the Challenge Cup Final, teaching him the rules on the journey and he thoroughly enjoyed the whole occasion. However, without my involvement he would not have known that this event, or maybe even the sport even existed.

The road ahead is challenging but I think that rugby league is on the cusp of grabbing more attention from media and commercial partners. This will be rewarding to see for the players and fans of this entertaining and inclusive sport and I am excited to join the RFL on this journey. 2018 is already shaping up to be an incredible season with entertaining matches and some unexpected results already. I’m very much looking forward to the remainder of the season complete with drama, passion and an ever growing audience.

To get involved in the action, you can download the Our League app now:

Google Play:  https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.incrowdsports.rugby.rfl

App Store: https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/ourleague/id1292250629?ls=1&mt=8

OurLeague Website: https://membership.rugby-league.com

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