You just invested in a mobile rewards and fan engagement platform with the intent of increasing student and fan engagement. Your next step is to figure out how to get your fans to download and use your application. An attempt to market the app to your fans is usually made by using traditional marketing methods such as radio, TV, and print marketing. While these methods are tried and true, they only reach a fraction of your audience.
We have a few more innovative and digital ways that we know will reach your entire fan base and motivate students and fans to download and use your platform. We examined our database of hundreds of schools and thousands of fans to see how they have been able to garner new users and we discovered many creative ways to increase fan adoption of their rewards platforms.
1. Targeted Marketing at New Student Events & Games
Taking advantage of freshman orientation, welcome week, and club sign-up day are three areas that have made the largest impact when launching new programs and jump-starting current apps at schools. These are great opportunities to introduce students to the platform early, and gives them a sense of belonging at their new school, which helps with engagement. Plugging the app to freshmen while they are excited and motivated to get involved in everything at their new school makes the world of difference and carries over in years to come.
For example, the University of South Alabama did a great job utilizing freshman orientation to gain more users. Freshman orientation is one of the first experiences students have at their new schools, so making them feel a part of it is important. This also allows for building the platform straight into the culture of the school right away. Incentivizing students with points and prizes for downloading the app and checking in is proven effective. The number of points and prizes are completely customizeable, and the more creative, the more likely students are willing to participate.
Games and events are also great places to promote the app. A few fun and easy ways it can be promoted are:
- PA and jumbotron announcements
- Reward giveaways for downloading the app during games and events
- Pep rallies
- Student section competitions
- Instant prizes/experiences for checking in
- Fan Cam challenges
2. Download Rewards
Often students and fans are motivated to download the app when they learn what kind of rewards they can earn by attending events. Besides clothing merchandise and gift cards for restaurants, many fans are motivated by prizes and experiences such as sitting on a couch front row at a game, upgraded tickets, meet and greet with the team and coaches, tour of the locker room, traveling with the team for tournaments, and bookstore gift cards. Many students are motivated by school specific rewards and experiences like being principal for the day, fast passes for the lunch line, and homework passes. With RevPass, a special feature within the platform, students and fans can now earn rewards offered outside of the app. The rewards can be completely customized.
3. Social Media Campaigns
Social media is one of the best ways to reach your students and fans through channels such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Promoting your platform through these channels with social graphics and direct links to the iTunes and Google Play stores is guaranteed to show up on your followers’ feed. Not only can you promote the platform over social media, but you can create newsletters, e-blasts, and email campaigns.
4. Student Sections & Street Teams
Student sections play a vital role in the success of your rewards platform. Many of these students will be the biggest influencers on recruiting their peers to download your app. A great way for them to accomplish this is through something called “street teams.” Street teams is a colloquial phrase we use to describe teams of students who are incentivized to encourage people to download the rewards app. This is an extremely effective method because we have found students respond better when their fellow peers encourage them to download an app rather than an administrator.
Schools create street teams of about 5 to 25 students who persuade as many students as possible to download the app using a unique code for each street team member. The administrators are able to look at the backend and determine who had the most downloads, which is followed by a considerable reward. This also allows the street team members to earn prizes based off of how many downloads they accrue.
Street teams are not limited to just schools. They can also be utilized at games, whether pro, college, or high school. Setting up a booth with free giveaways for downloading the app is guaranteed to increase downloads for your organization.
5. Student and Fan Competitions
Creating some friendly competition among groups of students and fans is a very successful tool that can be used to promote program adoption. We notice that students thoroughly enjoy competing against their peers towards a desirable prize. One example of creating competition is utilizing the residence halls in colleges. One of our clients created a residential hall competition between the Resident Assistants to see who could get the most downloads the first week of school. The RA who won received a financial reward and the floor of students they advised got a doughnut party. This can also be done between different grade levels, homerooms, and classes.
If your school has a strong greek presence, utilize that. Create competitions, include philanthropic events and fundraisers, and sponsor tailgates. The Leaderboard feature is also a great tool when it comes to tracking points. To encourage attendance, many schools often promote theme nights, such as Hawaiian Night, Black or White Out, or ‘80’s Night at games or certain events. These opportunities are oftentimes overlooked, but usually there is high attendance at theme nights. Push notifications can be sent straight to students’ phones to remind them of these events. Have them vote on that week’s theme via our Fan Poll feature.
6. Other Tips & Tricks
In order to gain more users, it’s important to make sure your platform is specific to your school, and to make it as inclusive as possible. This means not limiting the platform to just athletics, but to all school events and activities. We’ve seen major success with schools who make their platform a one-stop-shop for students with all interest levels. Creating student sections, embedding sports/event passes and student IDs for digital entry to games and events will guarantee adoption and engagement.
The most important thing to remember is to have fun with it! Get students and faculty involved to help you market. Fans are important to making your organization successful, so use these new ideas that are proven to work and create a desirable mobile rewards and fan engagement platform they will all want to use.