Four Ways Mobile Rewards Programs Improve Fan Engagement in College Sports

Part 2 of our Who is Fan “X?” series takes a deeper dive into what we learned from a year’s worth of FANX Rewards data.

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On gameday, college students and alumni take to their mobile devices to plan, enjoy and relive the experience of rooting for their teams. With a wealth of information at their fingertips, these sports fans have options - lots of them. To attend the game or not to attend? To purchase pizza or a hotdog? To share this selfie or that one? Oh, but which filter makes me look good in these sunglasses? It’s a life filled with decisions.

Luckily, our FANX mobile application allows us to dive into fan engagement data and provide our customers with answers to some of these burning questions. We like to say that, with data, we are helping our schools understand their fans.

Bold, right?

In this post, we take a look at our FANX Rewards mobile loyalty platform and share some of the positive results our schools experienced in year one.

Without further adieu, let’s dig in.

College students take action when there is something to gain.

Our data says that schools with loyalty and rewards programs built into their mobile applications saw a 64% increase in their monthly active users. 64%! That’s a big number, and we’re very proud of it. This happy metric tells us that college students and alumni are interested in being rewarded for their loyalty via an in-app experience. This insight alone can inform decision-making for a college athletic department, but let’s dig a bit deeper.

Schools that turned on FANX Rewards after one year saw their total unique mobile application users increase by 72% on average. Translation: a larger, more engaged audience shows up when there is something to be earned or won. Most of our schools are offering prizes in exchange for points that are earned by checking into the app. Prizes range in value and schools have complete autonomy over how many points can be earned for each action a student takes.

August is the biggest month for rewards opt-ins.

This may not come as a surprise, but it’s important to note that our data confirms August as the most active month for loyalty program new user registrations. We are seeing approximately 21% of total opt-ins happening in August. Conversely, May is the least active month. Somewhat surprisingly, February is the 3rd highest month for activations. Why? The heart of college basketball season, and the beginning of baseball, softball and other spring sports are prime milestones for fans to get engaged. Don’t you just love actionable information? We sure do.

“When freshman come to campus for the first time in the fall, they are looking for ways to connect with their new school -- their new home, says Jon Wepking, Assistant Athletic Director for Marketing & Production at Minnesota State University, Moorhead. “This is the prime opportunity to bring them into your loyalty and rewards program with push notifications ON. If they start with notifications off, you’re fighting an uphill battle.”

When freshman come to campus for the first time in the fall, they are looking for ways to connect with their new school- - their new home. This is the prime opportunity to bring them into your loyalty and rewards program with push notifications ON. If they start with notifications off, you’re fighting an uphill battle.
— Jon Wepking, Assistant Athletic Director for Marketing & Production, Minnesota State University, Moorhead

Points and prizes drive more in-app sessions.

Our data shows schools that activated FANX Rewards after one year saw the sessions registered in their apps increase by an average of 83%. This number is astounding, really. And it solidifies our strategy to continue to build new features into the FANX platform that add value for college sports fans. Sure, scores and schedules are nice, but the opportunity to win an exclusive tour of the football stadium? That’s worth downloading for.

“We knew that adding a mobile loyalty program would achieve some of the digital media goals for our schools, but we have been very happy to report such impressive numbers in just the first year of this program,” says From Now On CEO Sue Thaden. “As schools get smarter and more efficient about how they use these tools, the possibilities are endless.”


Schools that activated FANX Rewards for the 2018-2019 season saw an average total session increase of 83% in their mobile app.


Mobile rewards programming increases time spent in-app.

When college sports fans are offered a chance to redeem prizes for taking action in the FANX mobile app, they are spending more time in the platform. Our data shows an increased session time per device of 11% across all schools that adopted the FANX Rewards program in 2018. Of course this all depends on how much effort an athletic department is putting into marketing their rewards program, but those who did invest time in this asset, saw their session time increase.

The moral of this story is that loyalty and rewards programming WILL have a positive impact on fan engagement for your athletics program. The results are real. With a bit of effort in building out prizing and marketing the program as fall sports begin, mobile engagement numbers have been proven to increase. And this is, of course, good for athletic departments, fans and sponsors alike.

But wait - there’s more! These insights are just the highlights when it comes to leveraging fan rewards to drive engagement.

To get the full scouting report on fan loyalty programs, download our research report below and start transforming your approach to fan engagement today!

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Do you want to learn all the key strategies & tactics for building your own mobile loyalty program?