FanX Best Practice Series: Using Mobile Promotions to Engage Students & Boost Attendance

Image courtesy Loyola Athletics

Image courtesy Loyola Athletics

Our FANX Best Practice Series regularly shines the spotlight on best practices in fan engagement and mobile marketing as developed by our own FANX user community. Today's contribution is authored by Marcus Mercer, Director of Marketing for Loyola Athletics. Marcus shares how Loyola Athletics partnership with their Department of Residence Life for a student housing promotion helped their them boost both student attendance and downloads of their Rambler X mobile app. 

Loyola increased student attendance at men's basketball games by 38% over one month. Here's how we did it:

We launched our new mobile app, Rambler X, with From Now On in October of 2016, right before the start of the 2016-2017 basketball season.  When we selected From Now On as a mobile provider,we outlined few of our main fan engagement initiatives, including: building a new culture of what it means to be a fan, driving gate attendance, engaging the local community and, of course, driving revenue. As we entered conference basketball season we felt we had established a decent base of app users but thought we could drive more before the season was over. We also wanted to find some ways to boost student attendance. With those goals in mind we came up with our priority housing promotion.


Find a cost-effective student promotion to drive attendance to home men’s basketball games. A successful promotion would help us accomplish two things:

  • Get students to home basketball games

  • Drive downloads of our new app


This promotion was a true partnership between Athletics and our Residence Life team on campus. Residence Life has a lottery system to determine positioning when it comes to choosing on-campus housing.  We initially presented the idea to raffle a single spot in the lottery to the folks in the Residence Life office.  To their credit, they were on board with the idea and together we are able to come up with a way to make the idea an even more appealing one to students: raffle a total of 20 spots over four games. This was fantastic because we immediately knew this would gain much more attention from students than a single raffle spot, and it didn't change the overall cost of running the promotion in any meaningful way. Our nextstep was to take a look at our team's schedule to select which games we would run the promotion during. Ultimately, we chose our first four home conference games following the holidays. This worked out for a couple of reasons. First, any time students return following a long break from campus we know there is a great opportunity to re-engage them in campus life. These four games also happened to be four important conference games where having a student presence would be key to our team's success. We then assigned each game to one of our four largest residence halls, so that residents from those hall were guaranteed three of the available five priority housing spots for their assigned game.  



As we planned the details of the promotion itself, we knew that to be successful in reaching our students we would need to take advantage of multiple marketing channels. With that, we saw a couple of unique opportunities. First, we saw our new mobile app as the perfect vehicle to make this promotion feel "exclusive" for students, and to target our message very specifically to that audience. We also knew that if we could get the word out to students we could drive additional downloads of our app overall, which will make it an even better marketing and communication platform in the future. We also coordinated promotional efforts with the Residence Life staff who enlisted the RA’s to help get the word out to their residents. Some RA’s did pizza parties or pregame ‘tailgates’ for their residents prior to the games. They also hung graphics in their halls and passed out flyers promoting the games.

Since we were working on a little bit of an abbreviated timeline and wanted to make sure we got everything executed flawlessly for the first game, I set up a call to present this idea to our Customer Success Coach at From Now On to work through some of the logistics. Once we determined how we would run the promo in the app, I simply created a registration form using a system we use to support registration for special events throughout the year. This allowed me to limit the registration to only those with a '' email address and limit the amount of error we might get when selecting winners. Once I had built out the registration page I was able to link it to a promotion card I had built to go live on the main screen of our app as the gates opened to the arena on game day. Students received a push notification via the app an hour before game time, alerting them of the promo. Then, when they entered the arena and opened the app, they could click on the card taking them to the registration page that required them to fill in their name, email, and current residence hall. For in-game promotion we created a PA to be read several times throughout the first half of each game. At halftime a member of our staff and a member of the residence life staff met and randomly selected the winning names from the entry list. The residence life staff was able to cross-check entries with a roster of current students to ensure the winners were actually current students from that residence hall. Finally, we announced the winners during the under 4-minute media timeout of the second half, and required students be present to win, which kept our student attendance really high throughout the game.


  • Average over 300 students for the season

  • Averaged 423 students per game during promotion (38% over season average)

  • 500+ new downloads of Rambler X app during the promotion

Overall we were really thrilled with the results of this promotion. Beyond the numbers themselves, this showed us the opportunity there is to partner with other departments on our campus, and proved out our mobile app as an active marketing and communication platform, as opposed to just an informational tool. As we begin to transition into planning for the 2017-2018  athletics calendar, we will definitely be looking to build on this promotion! 

Many thanks to our guest contributor, Marcus Mercer, Director of Marketing, Loyola Chicago Athletics Department!


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