May 20, 2015
Coastal Carolina University is a small liberal arts university, located just a few miles from Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. CCU has just under 10,000 enrolled students that support 18 Division I intercollegiate sports teams. With a smaller student body and target market and generally lesser resources than others, Michael Jacobs, Assistant Athletic Director for Ticket Operations and Revenue, has had to get creative with ways to achieve their goals.
Surveys from students promoted they wanted to be rewarded for supporting our teamsMichael Jacobs,Coastal Carolina University
“Surveys from students promoted they wanted to be rewarded for supporting our teams,” Jacobs told FanMaker. “The students also got upset when they would attend a variety of events and come late to one and there was no more giveaway items. They shared stories of students who only came and got a t-shirt and then never came to another game. They asked us to come up with a fair way to reward students who are supporting us and allow a way for us to get better items for those that support a lot.”
Coastal Carolina was suffering from a lack of sustained enthusiasm for all sports on campus. Students were buying tickets to single games here and there but weren’t showing season-long loyalty.
“[We had] good attendance at specific sports and certain events but we were not getting the continuous support we wanted,” Jacobs said. “We did not have a way to incentivize students to support our Olympic sports.”
That’s where the relationship with FanMaker came in.
5,023 students have registered for the program, which represents over half the student body
To this point, CCU’s rewards site has been wildly successful. According to Jacobs, 5,023 students have registered for the program, which represents over half the student body. And since automating ticket sales and pairing that with the rewards system, student ticket revenue has increased over 30 percent.
Our attendance at football grew over 10 percent versus last year and baseball over 200 percentMichael Jacobs,Coastal Carolina University
What’s particularly telling about Jacobs’ and CCU’s success to this point is how they’ve been able to gain such amazing traction and results with such a small target audience. Coastal Carolina faces issues that large universities and their athletics departments don’t have to worry about. Instead of benefitting from constant exposure from media or an enormous devoted following based off of constant turnover of tens of thousands of graduates each year, the CCU athletics department literally has to roll their sleeves up and campaign the good old fashioned way.
For starters, Jacobs uses business cards with information all about GoTealRewards.com — how to register and participate in the rewards program. He and his staff hand these out at student entrances and other events on campus, creating a connection with the student base right then and there. Also, this past summer they made a presentation at student orientation — a place to address students when they’re fresh and transformable, — where Jacobs said a majority of students signed up that day on the spot. Finally, on top of weekly emails, reminding students of the potential rewards they could be gaining points towards, they even set up real estate signs all over campus to raise more awareness.
Using tried-and-true methods of marketing the site isn’t all Jacobs and his staff are doing, though. They’re taking advantage of being able to use push notifications from the site to keep students engaged and actively thinking about the rewards program, even when they’re not attending a game or buying tickets.
Frequency helps with students and getting them to attend the eventsMichael Jacobs,Coastal Carolina University
In talking to Jacobs, the overlying objective of Coastal Carolina’s athletic department is pretty simple to understand: With a smaller student base and fewer resources, Jacobs is able to reach out to the population in ways that have a special, more personal touch. After all, reaching out to your fans, understanding their wants and needs and delivering on ideas that take all that into account is what it’s all about. GoTealRewards.com is doing exactly that.