Overall Loyal Driver Score: 15.4
We need to put some caveats in place to properly discuss the Colorado Rockies Loyalty Marketing Program or any team under the umbrella of the MLB for that matter. The MLB, it would appear, controls the websites of all its teams. Think of the MLB as WordPress in this instance. Every team gets about the same features. The same goes for all MLB apps for buying tickets and the like. We are sure that the tentacles of the MLB stretch even farther than we are aware, but we acknowledge that the Colorado Rockies can only do so much within a system they do not own nor control. Likewise, while there is a fan experience that they control in their live broadcasts, it is the norm and less transactional so we will leave it alone at this point in our analysis.
They do, however, own and control their stadium and its various offerings. Further, we will also consider only home games as being on location or in-store and not when the Rockies are on the road or in Spring Training. Certainly, the Rockies are playing in these instances, and fans can buy tickets away from Coors field and watch their team, but the Rockies do not control those experiences today. Though we think they can try.
With context setting and acknowledgements out of the way, we will cut to the chase and say the Rockies are not great at loyalty and even more disappointing is that they aren’t even trying. Their product is built on the chassis of fandom—people in Denver and Colorado want to be loyal to this team—but the Rockies seemingly go out of their way to not reward fans, not reward loyal game attendees, ignore those loyal to them when they are in the park, and decline to create any kind of fan experience when visiting their team on the road.
The Colorado Rockies have a unique situation, with baseball played a mile above sea level. More home runs are hit in Coors Field than any other park, as almost a perennial promise. This gives modern baseball fans exactly what the crave, delivered here more than in any other stadium in the MLB. Statistically, each Rockies home ticket purchase is buying live home run views. As a franchise, they have struggled to put good teams together. When they do, as with their historic run in 2007, getting beat in the World Series, everyone was behind them who wasn’t from Boston. Those are easy times to draw people in. It’s almost a guarantee. But with a team that struggles, the organization must find ways to create loyal fans. Otherwise they could wait 108 years before they win a World Series.
TIME – 9
A trip to Coors Field is not as cumbersome of a commute as it is in denser, more sprawling cities, but for their part, the Rockies are not doing much of anything to save their fans, casual or dedicated, much time. Time is the new loyalty currency. We are all busy, time feels more limited than ever, time spent in bottlenecks seems more unbearable than ever because some brands and companies have solved this, and it makes brands who aren’t sensitive to our time-needs seem all the more out of touch and terrible. You could have gone to 40 Rockies games last year, but if you aren’t a season ticket holder, you have to wait in line like everyone else to get in. They offer a little love with a dedicated VIP ticket window for season ticket holders, which skips a small line, but there is no special entrance once you have that ticket. They are one of the few stadiums that has a Clear entrance, which is a great move, but this shows us that it’s Clear who is saving us the time. The Rockies are just the broker.
Part of the reason that all of MLB is losing attendance is that it can be an enormous time commitment, door-to-door, typically an average of 5.5 hours. (Check this with Zac’s piece). As an organization who doesn’t make much effort to reward its loyal fans with a quick and dedicated entry and exit, they are signaling that they aren’t listening to their customers. And that’s very bad news for loyalty.
Streamlined in-store/on location experience – 2
The on-location, in-stadium experience is anything but streamlined. You must stand in a long line if you need to buy or pick up a ticket—and there is only one place to buy tickets. (Admittedly, most everyone is using printed or digital tickets.) Then a line to get into the stadium. Then lines for the restroom and lines for concessions. Even if the Rockies created a separate entrance for their loyal fans, those fans would still be treated like everyone else when it comes to restrooms and concessions and souvenirs. To be fair, the Rockies are no different than any other team in any other sport in this regard, but until they have built a dynasty of loyal fans like the Cubs or the Yankees, they will always struggle on the field because the front office can’t figure out how to keep fans coming back and fill their payroll.
Streamlined website/app shopping experience – 2
The shopping experience isn’t terrible, but it is often not the Rockies who are creating this experience. The Rockies’ website promotes StubHub as their ticket seller, but also they use Ticketmaster to power their on-site sales. That’s a headscratcher that we won’t touch. Their website is owned by the MLB, same with the app, so all fans of all teams are getting the exact same experience. Rockies have to take the chin music here, even though it isn’t exactly their fault or within their control to change this experience, but it is still an experience they are forced to broker with their fans.
If it were possible for them, they should built their own separate ticket purchase platform and cut StubHub and Ticketmaster out of their pockets. They could lower the insane fees that those platforms both offer and provide a unique and streamlined experience for their fans. Again, they may not be able to because of the quiet hand of the MLB, but gosh darnit, they should try.
Smooth BOPIS experience – 2
We really wouldn’t recommend buying online and picking up at the ticket window. You may not even be able to much anymore. Hopefully, fans are using their phones or their printers because the BOPIS experience at Coors Field just adds another line to the gauntlet of lines that all must face with a trip to the ballpark.
Their one saving grace is that season ticket holders are mailed their tickets in advance of the season, so in this respect, they are helping these loyal souls to skip the ticket line. Sadly, this is standard issue for any MLB team, so the Rockies get some credit, but are truly only doing the minimum, even with their most loyal and dedicated fans.
Proactive communications and management – 3
The Rockies do a little worse than average at communicating proactively in an effort to save fans time, but they do a little bit here. Most of this is powered by Ticketmaster or StubHub we suspect, but the Rox get some credit for making it happen. You will receive texts or emails with game updates, such as delays for weather. They are making an effort here. However, they aren’t doing the thing that saves us real time, such as real time texts for shorter lines or empty parking lots or traffic jams. If they care about what their fans are going through, if they really consider the effort it takes just to get into their ballpark, only to be faced with more time sucks, they would do what they can to help their fans not arrive angry. But they don’t.
FINANCIAL – 23
It’s not cheap to attend a game, though the benefit of having a team that doesn’t play well is that tickets are lower than teams that do or who have loyal fans. However, a trip to the ballpark—any ballpark—isn’t cheap. Ticket’s likely average somewhere around $37 and food and drink will likely run another $18. (We are just guessing here from multiple trips over the years, sitting in all areas of the park.) That’s not a terrible number for a day at the park, but it isn’t something most families can do multiple times a year.
There are some savings if you buy in bulk with the various packages of season and partial season tickets, plus a few benefits thrown in such as SWAG and a handful of free, Standing Room Only (SRO) tickets. Beyond what comes with the season ticket packages, all other fans are treated the same with respect to member pricing or loyalty points. Nothing accumulates to an ultimate end. No upgrades, no freebies, no nothing. It is frankly bizarre that they aren’t even trying to reward their fans with return trips. It just cannot be a thing they don’t discuss in the front office. Which means they flatly believe that it’s cheaper to buy new customers than keep the ones they have. It’s shocking how much attendance and revenue they just refuse to drive with loyalty.
Perceived or Actual Savings – 7
There are some savings for the truly committed fan who buys full or partial season tickets. You can escape much of the dynamic pricing that you will face, game to game, during the season, plus you have a regular seat. This isn’t an unusual thing that the Rockies do that no other team does. They have their own pricing models and gamesmanship spin here, we’re sure, but it’s the standard MLB playbook.
What we applaud are all the various ways the Rockies have created cheap tickets. From the Rockpile to the Rooftop to their SRO section, they have been willing to let fans into the park cheaply and even let them just stand and not have to commit to a seat after sitting down all day. They aren’t the only team to think of or execute this, but they have been offering more than most.
A trip to the baseball park is still very expensive for the average family. While you can get in for cheap in the various aforementioned ways, it’s difficult to eat and drink cheaply. Or park cheaply. They will let you bring in your own food, which does equate to savings and is a cool thing that they do. Many families cannot afford to do this more than once a year.
Select or members only pricing – 1
Since the Rockies don’t have an actual loyalty program, there isn’t membership, and thus they cannot offer member pricing. We’re certain that season ticket holders get first crack at season tickets, but not at a discounted price and, sadly, this doesn’t occur often. We also imagine that season ticket holders can get some select pricing on other tickets, but FIGURE THIS OUT…..
However, you have to hand over a lot of cash well in advance of baseball season to get this pricing, that isn’t even that good. However, if you are a fan who goes often and ends up spending more than mini-season ticket holders, you are offered no rewards. No recognition. And certainly no member pricing.
Reward/Loyalty points – 2
As mentioned, the Rockies do not reward their fans’ loyalty, and they do not have any traditional loyalty program. The only way you can get loyalty points, is that full (also partial?) season ticket holders are given a special card that has 5% of their total package price, that they can use to buy more tickets, concessions, or gear at their stadium stores. That isn’t a bad deal. 5% cash back would be generous by most rewards standards. However, the buy-in for this reward is a high barrier.
Sign up Bonus – 1
They don’t have a loyalty program so there isn’t anything to sign up for and so they have no bonus to offer.
Longer lasting products – 5
We give middling marks here because tickets only last so long. This sub-driver of loyalty is traditionally reserved for actual products, such as in a retail environment. We hold the Rockies harmless here.
Perceived personal value – 5
Fandom is a completely different animal compared to being loyal to a brand of soap or outdoor gear or vehicles. People align with a team, whether the one they grew up rooting for or the ones that happen to be in the city where they live. Fandom comes from all angles and has lots of weight put on it by other fans. By nature, when we align with a team and become a fan—root of the word fanatic—then their success is our success; their losses are our disappointments. There is a personal value here.
We give the Rockies middling scores here because they do have fans, as any team would. However, they don’t travel well. They don’t have people wearing their jerseys and hats and T-shirts all over the country like the Yankees or the Braves or the Red Sox. In fact, when the Red Sox play in Denver, the stadium can feel more like a home game for the Red Sox than the Rockies. Certainly, fans will appear when they are playing well, but this organization has not cultivated fandom the way the Cubs did with WGN or the Giants with their killer stadium location and returning/available alumni (also regular World Series wins). There are many levers to be pulled to create fandom. Many of them are well-know and documented. Many more, we believe, have yet to be invented. The Rockies don’t seem to put much effort, or unique effort, into creating this.
The Rockies are a fairly new team to baseball, starting in 1993 in Mile High Stadium. So maybe it is too early to judge them against teams that have been in the same town for over a century, with parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents who themselves grew up rooting for that team when there wasn’t much else to do. But now there’s lots to do. More sports for kids to play than what we had 20 years ago. More distractions. It is a tougher environment to create the lineage of fandom today than if you started 100 years ago, but thems the breaks. The Rockies have to play a different game to be able to compete with 100 years of fandom and huge payrolls, but they don’t seem to be making any effort to acknowledge their circumstance, let alone try to game it for the betterment of their organization.
CONTENT/LEARNING – 20
It’s difficult to divide up content or learning into a pure form with this brand and even its industry, as there could be learning about the team, learning how to navigate the ballpark experience to a high level, and also, though somewhat obliquely, learning how to play baseball, as an adult or a child. Where the Rockies thrive is using their players in videos that bring us closer to them and show us who these athletes are. What pets they own or how they throw a knuckle curve or bunt down the third base line. The parent with a son who plays baseball might get a lot out of that, and even fans without sons in the game might love the inside baseball. We think this can drive loyalty and create a deeper understanding of the game, but we haven’t observed this happening enough to say it for sure.
The Rockies come up short in most learning areas where their players aren’t involved. Many home runs to be hit with content around how to get the most out of the park, where restaurants are located, which bathrooms have the shortest lines, etc. This wouldn’t be easy to create for them since they already do very little in these areas. They seem to put all of their effort into increasingly ridiculous sideshows between innings where molars race toothbrushes and people on the street are asked intense questions about home energy savings or figuring out which hat is hiding the ball on the big screen. This is a lot of activity that isn’t baseball, that amounts to the real world version of social media mental distraction. But none of this drives loyalty or fandom or return visits. They are funding in-game distractions because other teams do this. They should instead do what other teams aren’t and haven’t thought of yet.
How to use products – 4
The Rockies aren’t considerably worse than their peers here as there aren’t a ton of pitches to hit in how to use a baseball ticket, eat a hot dog, or transact online. Where they come up slightly worse than the average is in not seeing the ballpark through the eyes of their fans. It wouldn’t take much to learn from modern airports and create simple, mappable modes of finding specific food in the ballpark (as opposed to just walking around and hoping), where are the souvenirs, restrooms, etc. They have an app. It would be easy to create these maps within it.
How to get the most out of products – 1
There are lots of paths the Rockies could take to provide new fans and old fans with a better game experience that isn’t flat and dull. However, thus far they have turned down every opportunity. We are looking for them to have either their own people or create the platform/opportunity for crowd-sourcing better experiences by having videos and articles that show people how to scalp tickets, when it makes sense to buy in advance, where to scalp, how to get burned scalping. We don’t care all that much about scalping and are fully aware of how a team would likely never participate—in any form—in the secondary market of its own product, but this particular point we are making is to show that many of those in attendance at every game use this service. It is an accepted norm in event venue ticketing. But they don’t influence it. They don’t shape it for their fans, and this same thing goes for lines to the ticket window, bathroom, and concessions.
The Rockies do not offer visibility into where the shortest lines are or wait times. They don’t have an easy nor a dynamic map of concessions in their park. They don’t have season ticket holders giving us their wisdom on how to get the best experience, when to buy, how to manage splitting season tickets with groups, best parking spots, worst parking spots, etc.
The games are hassles and a battlefield of lines and expensive products, and they flatly ignore the friction of their product.
How professionals use these products/services – 7
When the Colorado Rockies get their players involved, they do well. They don’t do much of anything different than other teams, but they turn in a solid performance in this area. They have all of their players walk-up songs on their website, so if you hear a song that you like you can easily find it and play it through Spotify on the MLB site (same is true for all MLB teams and not just a Rockies benefit). They have short videos of all significant plays from the night before. They have fantasy camps where $4500 will get you a week with the Rockies coaches and a current player during Spring Training. These aren’t exactly professional use cases, but it is the organization’s professionals who will uncover hidden meaning behind the game. That and videos that show the athletes and their wives, how they cut their hair, what their tattoos mean, and the kinds of dogs they have.
Where they are remiss is in pivoting from this to season ticket holders and other semi-secret shoppers who know the best times to arrive at the park, which seats have the most or least direct sun, undervalued/overvalued games, when to scalp, when to buy in bulk, where to get the cheapest food or find the least used restroom. These aren’t things that will drive direct dollars for the Rockies at the park. These are things that can generate loyalty by removing a lot of the hassle and inefficiency of a trip to see this team.
Instructional / advice / etc. – 7
The Rockies have the occasional video with pitchers showing how to throw a pitch, home run hitters showing how to stand at the plate and look mean, how to field grounders, or steal bases. And they have the adult fantasy camp for $4500 where you actually learn how to play baseball from the Rockies coaches. We actually think this is a great value for many who can afford it, but a cost that certainly locks out many of its fans. And they have summer baseball camps for kids to learn to play. This is all a lot of effort and doesn’t have anything to do with ticket sales, but it does drive revenue for them in both a Content and Access way. And further it creates increased loyalty to the team from those kids in camp (someday), and certainly those adults in fantasy camp. Better still, this is the kind of Content and Access that is using their assets to their advantage. Again, not unique to the Rockies, but they are doing these parts fairly well.
What we would like to see is maybe a Fan camp. Get creative with what they could do here, potentially even have them help solve what to do between innings for entertainment that drives Rockies fandom. We would also like the aforementioned types of advice and instruction on a great and smooth ballpark experience.
Downstream/Iterations/Predictive – 1
The Rockies are not sophisticated enough in any of the aforementioned content areas to create any of the magic of delivering back to its fans what their data reveals about them. Imagine if they only knew which was each fan’s favorite player. When that player is up to bat, moved to the DL, pitching the next day, personal tidbits, videos during batting practice, getting mentally prepared in the locker room, live mics about what they talk about with other players during pregame, and these are all delivered right to the fans’ phone or email.
We don’t go too deep here with examples, but once you have even a little bit of dependable fan data, you should return content that speaks to what they want. They aren’t doing much of anything with content that builds loyalty, but it would be very easy and cheap to start.
ACCESS – 18
The Rockies create a decent amount of Access at Coors Field, with an in-stadium brewery, Rooftop Deck, Standing Room Only area, though it is purely paid access and not loyalty driven. They create a decent amount of events, like the Colorado Rockies Home Run 5k, but not many of these events are for fans or loyal members only. They do have some exclusive products in the fantasy camp, but it is not required that you are an actual loyal customer, only that you have $4500. They don’t provide lead time for single ticket sales in the way that they could or should be, and the data and intelligence they have at the ready is not cycled back to their customers.
Professional sports teams have a balancing act with their players with respect to Access. The players don’t want to do much of this, we imagine, and certainly don’t want to feel forced into it. The front office needs the players to be focused on baseball and not fandom, but there are home runs to be hit with providing Access to players. The Rockies do a very nice job during the game to humanize their players with quick interview-style videos. We aren’t sure that this drives increased loyalty, but they are inching close here to figuring some things out if they keep pushing in this direction.
In-store/at location – 3
The Rockies have an average performance in terms of creating Access at their location. They have VIP ticket lines for season ticket holders and they are one of the few ballparks that offers an entrance if you are a Clear member. While they are leveraging another service, Clear, for this point of Access, it is not their own, and it speaks to a deep miscalculation in loyalty. The Clear entrance is nothing special. It isn’t anything they could not create right now for particular fans who are loyal, such as season ticket holders or even anyone who bought at least 10 tickets the previous season, or the like. Instead, they leverage another brand to do this for them. It’s worrisome for their future that they make present-day decisions like this.
Exclusivity – Places – 7
The Rockies do have some exclusive places, outside of the standard places of the more expensive seats. They have a rooftop deck that any ticketholder can access, which has a party atmosphere, a huge bar and food stands, plus a pretty great view of the game and a Rocky Mountain sunset from the upper deck in right field.
They also have the Sandlot, which is an in-stadium brewery that is only available to ticket holders and only open during games, though it is available to be rented for events during non-game times.
As mentioned, all of this is based on a ticket price and not the reward of fan loyalty, which makes these a little slippery, but they are additional elements that bring people to the park for a different experience. These exclusive places may ultimately function as acquisition tools, but we feel they are strong enough to want to be experienced again. When they build a season ticket holder’s lounge or restroom or only people who have purchased X amount of tickets in the past 12 months can attend batting practice, then we’ll know something has changed.
Exclusivity – Events/People – 3
The Rockies do have the occasional event with the players, as many teams do. They also have a 5k that includes a lap around the warning track at Coors field. None of these events are exclusive, but are seemingly aimed at fans. It is an effort, and in Colorado there are plenty of races to participate in that no one would run this 5k without being driven by support for his or her team. What we would be interested in is how they use customer data from those who participate in these events to drive further Access and loyalty. If these events aren’t exclusive, there are ways to use the customer data to create downstream exclusivity for those who are showing the brand that they are hungry for more, if it were made available.
Exclusivity – Product – 3
Most of professional baseball at all levels of the game have bobblehead night or mini bat night, plastic cups for beverages that bear the team name and schedule. These have been iterated and improved upon over the years, but the true concept of a souvenir from the game is something all fans look to and depend on. The only exclusivity in this area is getting into the game and getting into the game early.
Perhaps the free hat or t-shirt night to the first 1000 fans was a way to control crowds and to have a byproduct of branding when these products left the park and stayed on our backs or on our shelves. Yet, there are more pitches to hit here by creating exclusive products for ONLY loyal fans.
The Fantasy Camp could fall under products or people/events. It doesn’t much matter. We are pretty certain that the fantasy camp will drive loyalty, as it seems like quite an experience, but it is such a high barrier for entry at $4500—plus it takes a week. There are likely other high value experiences that aren’t as high cost.
Lead time – 1
The Rockies do not engage in any lead time Access to products that is based on customer loyalty. Season ticket holders will get first Access to post-season tickets before they go to the masses, but that is a professional sports and venue standard and not specific to their organization. There are plenty of pitches to throw here, but so far they aren’t dealing.
Information/Intelligence/Data – 1
The same is true for providing access to data and intelligence as a loyalty reward or driver. The Rockies don’t appear to have the sophistication to produce this intelligence and there is a wonder if they are even capturing it in a leverageable way. There is gold to be mined here.
RECOGNITION – 9
The Rockies receive pretty poor marks for Recognizing its customers while on their website, at the stadium, or in its stores. They don’t own their website or app, though they control many of its functions that are particular to them, but these create a homogenous feel for all teams. And the website is pretty poor and low tech, despite having a lot of flashy clips and scores—likely due to the MLB’s interest and incentives being different from the Rockies. Same goes for the app. Their digital experience feels very cut and paste and given that they use Ticketmaster to power their ticket sales, we aren’t even sure that the data collected during ticketing even passes through to the home office.
Emails and newsletters are much the same. They don’t do a great job of recognizing their loyal customers at the ballpark, except with a season ticket holder window, which just ain’t a whole lot if you expect certain people and groups to continue their loyalty season after season.
In-App – 1
As mentioned, the app is owned and run by the MLB. It has some general details for the Rockies portion of the site, but nothing that recognizes customers beyond what it does for the entire MLB.
Individual Emails – 1
These are standard issue and other than having your name in the address line, they don’t speak directly to the customer based on the customer’s preferences and data.
Newsletters/Blasts – 1
Newsletters are what you expect from companies that aren’t doing much customer marketing. They aren’t segmented by my preferences or purchase behavior, the places I frequent in the ballpark, or my favorite player. Everyone seemingly gets what everyone gets.
In-Store (at the park) – 1
When I’m in the park, there is no memory or acknowledgment based on how many games I’ve been to, dollars I’ve spent, years in a row I’ve come to games, nothing. It is shocking that in this era, organizations of this size, are treating their loyal fans the same as someone on a vacation to Denver who is there to watch the opposing team. Think about that.
On-Website – 2
There is a little payment information memory, which we will award some credit, even though that payment information is likely stored with Ticketmaster or StubHub. Beyond this, if I have bought tickets in the same general area for years for a specific game, their website may know this, but they don’t recognize and act on it. And it would be pretty easy to, if only they controlled the payment portal.
Stored Memory – 1
They aren’t storing memory of past purchases, for tickets, gear, or concessions. While I don’t think anyone needs to remember how many hot dogs they bought two years ago, having the ticket purchase history will help to remember if the experience was good or bad in that particular section. Again though, if this does end up being stored, it will be stored at a ticket dealer and not on the MLB site.
Community – 2
The Rockies do some things in the national community. As does the MLB, so goes the Rockies. But they do some local work with issues close to players and their wives as well as creating baseball camps in the summer. Hopefully this drives some loyalty, but it feels like it only drives some appreciation. The Rockies should be finding communities to help that would also become fans of the organization if help were given to this community. It need not be direct. But it should at least create fans.