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Full case study

U.S. Soccer launches a loyalty program to engage football fans

Here’s how the soccer federation worked with Open Loyalty to create a multi-tier, omnichannel loyalty solution that ensured fan engagement all year round.
Banner with USSF logo

Project summary

The United States Soccer Federation, an organization governing American soccer at the international, professional and amateur levels, sought to increase engagement among its fans at all times of the year. They approached this goal, by launching the Insiders Program, a unique loyalty program furnished with a wide range of custom features like a multi-tier framework making up a points and rewards system. Open Loyalty’s ability to satisfy a broad spectrum of use cases thanks to its first-rate API and ability to integrate the client’s preferred systems was what led to a fruitful collaboration.

Find out how USSF worked with Open Loyalty to create a loyalty engine that expanded and strengthened its fan base.

Key results

  • Highly customized and usable loyalty program offering high-quality virtual experiences to ensure fan engagement all year long
  • An omnichannel solution alongside world-class API and Open Loyalty Language loyalty building blocks
  • One of the first NGB (National Governing Body) loyalty programs to institute a points and rewards program available to all membership tiers (paid and otherwise)
  • 61,494,383 points issued since its launch in 2019
  • API and SSO integration supporting USSF’s unique use cases
The Insiders app where program members can view and redeem their points.
The Insiders app where program members can view and redeem their points. Source.

Testimonial

"We loved what the API had to offer as we knew it was going to be a code integration, as well as some of the out-of-the-box features. We are extremely happy with the usability of it [Open Loyalty]. We can onboard anyone onto the platform and they are able to self-learn and use the platform to the best of their ability. We also really enjoy the support that we get from the OL team."
‍Nicole Kusi
Product Manager at USSF

About U.S. Soccer

The United States Soccer Federation (USSF), also known as U.S. Soccer, is a nonprofit organization headquartered in Chicago and founded in 1913. The federation is a full FIFA member, a world leader in women’s soccer at all levels, and has been the governing body of soccer in all its forms in the U.S. for over 100 years. 

Throughout its years of existence, USSF’s mission statement has been clear and unwavering: “to make soccer the preeminent sport in the United States and to continue the development of soccer at all recreational and professional levels”.

The challenge

While USSF’s key role in U.S. soccer has remained uncontested since its inception and it has enjoyed a loyal community of supporters for just as long, the federation found itself struggling to maintain consistent levels of engagement all year round and in all corners of the country.

With its National Teams frequently on the move, many fans in some parts of the country often went a while without getting to see their favorite teams play. The seasonal gaps in the teams’ activity further compounded the problem of sustaining fans’ engagement, making app usage plummet.

As such, it’s fair to assume that the client missed out on considerable revenue, not least because people weren’t buying tickets to games, but also revenue coming from merchandise and such. This in turn made growing their platform and scaling their operations notably harder.

In order to combat this challenge and ensure customer retention and engagement all year round, USSF decided to go the loyalty program route, and ultimately approached the Open Loyalty team. This marked the beginning of USSF’s Insider Program and a very fruitful partnership for both sides.

The solution

Having decided on a set of criteria they needed their future loyalty program provider to meet, USSF began their search. The client knew that API would need to be part of the equation and also that SSO integration was a must in order to satisfy their required use cases. In fact, it was the fact that Open Loyalty had agreed to throw SSO integration into its offerings was what sealed the deal. 

Before that happened, however, USSF reviewed five other potential options; however, none were able to tick all the boxes. 

Once the decision was made, the Open Loyalty development and product teams worked tirelessly - in close communication with U.S. Soccer - to fulfil all requirements.

It was important for us to not only furnish the loyalty engine with all the features needed to support the use cases USSF had first needed, but also look to the future and ensure that the program allowed for significant customization, such as the addition of gamification, and scalability down the line.

What makes the U.S. Soccer Insiders Program unique is that the program is available to all fans at a Standard (free) level. Fans can then choose to upgrade to a paid membership to increase their Insiders benefits.
‍Nicole Kusi
Product Manager at USSF
The three tiers making up the Insiders Program.
The three tiers making up the Insiders Program.

The Insiders Program has been designed as a multi-tier loyalty engine, giving all those who sign up the opportunity to benefit from their membership. This is quite unique in the sports industry, where it’s mainly paying season ticket holders who benefit from a sports organization’s loyalty offerings.

The program is made up of three main tiers, which are:

  • Standard Insider: available to all fans free of charge and packed full of different benefits, from early access to game tickets to the quarterly insiders newsletters
  • Premium Insider: for only $45 USD per year, members gain access to all of the standard-tier benefits in addition to other exciting perks such as invites to fan events, free merchandise shipping, and two pregame lounge passes
  • VIP Insider: for the most avid fans with $185 USD per year to spare, U.S. Soccer offers VIP presale access to game tickets, VIP access to insiders-only events and a wider range of Insiders Rewards, to name just a few.

On top of the above, however, the Insiders Program also features other custom tiers such as the Family Insider - an $85pa subscription containing the same portfolio of perks as the Premium Insider, except it’s for the entire family, potentially saving members quite a bit of money.

For its higher expenditure segments, U.S. Soccer’s loyalty program has additional four tiers, which not only offer countless VIP benefits and behind-the-scenes fan experiences, but also come with the added bonus of tax deductibility.

Ranging from $500 to $10,000 USD per year, members of the following tiers enjoy access to things such as U.S. Soccer Leadership Teleconferences, jerseys, concierge services, to the right to purchase a private suite.

The Insiders Program also features additional tiers for its high expenditure segments.
The Insiders Program also features additional tiers for its high expenditure segments.

Though it’s often the case with loyalty programs that customers move up tiers depending on the number of points they collect, that is not so with the Insiders Program. Customers in all tiers are able to collect points and redeem them for benefits, while the tiers function as a subscription service. $1 is equivalent to 10 points.

Members vote for Player of the Match to earn extra points within the app.
Members vote for Player of the Match to earn extra points within the app.

In order to earn points, members interact through the U.S. Soccer app, purchase game tickets via Ticketmaster, attend matches, and buy merchandise for the Official U.S. Soccer Store. Other ways include voting for the Player of the Match and watching featured videos. Members also receive points for downloading the app to get them started.

It’s also worth noting that that the Insiders Tier Bonus points are staggered. This means that those in the Standard (free) tier will receive only 200 points for downloading the app, whereas those in the Premium tier will get 2800 points.

The Insiders app where program members can view and redeem their points.
The Insiders app where program members can view and redeem their points.

Points redemption takes place within the Insider app, under the “Redeem” tab, where members are greeted with a list of available items to redeem and information about each one.

Program members can access behind-the-scenes content from within the loyalty app.
Program members can access behind-the-scenes content from within the loyalty app. Source.

The result

Ultimately, what came out of our joint collaboration was a highly customizable, omnichannel loyalty solution that helped USSF address its engagement issues. The loyalty engine is supported by Open Loyalty’s world-class API, coupled with SSO integration, which was important to the client to be able to have as part of the whole package.

The Insiders Program launched in 2019 furnished with a points/rewards system, which enabled the client to reward actions their fans take through the app on a daily basis with exclusive rewards.

The creation of their loyalty program also allows USSF to gather valuable data about their customers. Things such as how points are being earned and what rewards are being redeemed, to name a few, enable the brand to tailor their offerings and keep those engagement levels high.

Since its inception in 2019, the program’s scale has grown at an impressive rate. So far, it has issued a whopping 61,494,383, and attracted 251,794 loyalty program members and 152K app users.

U.S. Soccer doesn’t rest on its laurels, though. It has ongoing plans to better their range of offerings with the help of the data the program is generating. Their main goal is to continue to build a strong loyalty program that rewards each and every fan for their support and passion for the game. Some plans for this include the addition of gamification, a referral program, as well as offering members relevant content within the app.

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