Five ways we commercialise a mobile app experience

Great Big Events are leaders in Sport Presentation and Fan Engagement who continue to innovate and push the boundaries. That quest has seen further investment in technology that elevates the experience of live event attendances.

Central to that strategy was the creation of our own ‘white label’ digital tool, that we call the Ultimate Fan App.

We applied our insight and experience into the fan journey to provide clients with a digital fan experience that was fully flexible, customisable, with adaptable features that become unique to the experience of their sport, team or brand.

Having a tailored digital platform makes it easier for us as producers to engage with fans and audiences. We now provide innovative experiences previously deemed too expensive or difficult, like our synchronised Light Show option, enabling a whole stadium to become part of a spectacular sound and light show.

We also considered the common marketing and commercial objectives of our clients, and with their input, developed modules that sought to integrate their brand and their commercial partner’s brands into the entire fan experience.

Our modular approach also provides sports with the unique ability to create fan-lead entertainment segments during the live event, connecting the fan, the big screen and the MC in an immediate and playful way.

Ultimately, we sought to capitalise on the emotion and heightened atmosphere we seek to create at a live sporting event. We wanted to assist our clients in turning fan engagement into commercial gain. We developed functions to drive brand awareness, create engagement opportunities, capture data, and drive sales in tickets and merchandise.

When assessing this, we researched the most common ways to commercialise the mobile app experience, that also aligned with our client’s objectives, and so we focussed on the following key approaches:

1. In App Purchases

Adapted for Australia’s biggest basketball franchise, the Sydney Kings, our fan app uses information such as athlete profiles, match fixtures and news feeds to help guide fans to in app purchases.

Design is key, and the easier, quicker and simpler we make that experience the more likely we see in app purchases. Our modules support ticket sales, membership growth and merchandise purchases.

Accessing these commercial services should be further supported by social media campaigns, in venue announcements, exclusive offers and push notifications, ensuring that we convert crowd excitement into revenue.

2. In App Advertising

GBE designed a suite of functions within our mobile app experience that allows partners to reach and collect information from fans.

Having a visual association with exciting fan experiences creates opportunities for brands and partner brands to engage directly with a savvy, connected audience.

The simplest form of this is in app advertising with in-built click through to partner platforms.

However, when you have divided attentions, it’s worth considering clever ways to gain fans attention such as these advertising formats that can be adapted into the app experience:

  • Rewarded Video Ads – fans receive something valuable for continuing their adventure inside your app, brands present their products, app owners increase their revenue and app retention.

  • Interactive Ads – present ads like a game. While they spend their time in a playful manner, they are more willing to complete their purchases.

  • Native Ads – ads that complement the look and style of your app offer you more chances to engage your users and to increase their interest for the items offered.

3. Push Notifications

Push notifications is a powerful tool used to facilitate important conversations. We designed Ultimate Fan App to send users messages instantly, anytime through an online Client Portal with a Push scheduling capability.

We work with our clients, like the NSW Waratahs Super Ruby team, to create a well-planned strategy for notifications, careful to get the right balance of fan interaction. This has become even more important in COVID times with the ability to adapt messaging for fans at home and keep them connected to their team and sport even when games are not being played.

Some messaging encourages them to share an opinion – man of the match, choose your favourite song to play at team entry, vote on the best dressed fan or vote on team merchandise designs; ultimately giving fans a loud and valuable voice.

When trying to engage fans on a commercial level, the information has to feel relevant to them, and if you can, categorise the notifications tailored and sent to different fan demographics.

When drafting a push notification strategy consider the following

  • Provide a clear ‘call to action’ to facilitate in app purchases, a link or direction to the offer.

  • Advertise exclusive in app offers, discounts and rewards. The more compelling the offer the more likely they will make instant purchases.

  • Think about the timing of those notifications, as moods may swing with the fortunes of the team.

  • Test out several different versions of a message or offer to see which one generates the most purchases.

  • Incentivise use through notifications that offer rewards, vouchers and giveaways, that further encourage in app transactions.

  • Use notifications as a way of creating behaviour profiles, to see how fans respond, and use surveys and polling as a way of further understanding the likely purchasing behaviour of users.

4. Surveys and Polling

Profiling fans and gathering information supports commercial activity and can help drive sales and commercial revenue. Our app uses a number of simple modules that gauge the mood, interests and preferences of fans.

Fans can have their say with Fan Choice, a module that allows fans to offer their opinion bases on a series of options on any given event, issue or matter.

Similarly, Fan Polling is a great way to gather in depth feedback, asking fans specific questions on any topic.

GBE provides detailed reports to assist our clients and their partners to respond and adapt to the wishes of their customer base. This information helps to create behavioural profiles from audience segments further guiding the way we create and present fan/brand experiences.

Competitions and giveaways are a great way to incentivise participation in surveys and polls, helping to capture the data needed to create direct selling opportunities and activate commercial partnerships.

Once that relationship has been established, opportunities arise for brands to have a two-way dialogue with the audience, creating a valuable platform that facilitates brand awareness and commercial transactions.

5. Exclusives

Fans seek unique, authentic and memorable experiences. Providing them with something they cannot procure anyhow or anywhere else other than through the app adds immense value to the experience of your sport.

Giveaways, competitions, exclusive offers, discounts and personalised content, are effective ways to achieve this.

A simple way of providing personalised content, whilst creating value for partners, is branded social media content. In our Ultimate Fan App for example, users access exclusive, uniquely designed and themed digital frames for their photos.

Engaging with fans in such a way helps create further commercial value, both as a conduit to amplify the experience of your sport, but also to provide something discounted or free in return for personal information or social media content.

Select merchandise that can only be purchased on a given day and through the app, creates demand, and further promotes live attendance and app use as valuable experiences.

Rewarding app use with priority purchasing opportunities to merchandise, tickets and membership further fuels the desire to be online and connected.

In conclusion, it is important to consider that organisations should consider using all modules at their disposal to achieve increased commercial revenue, not just rely on one or two strategies or modules.

As with Ultimate Fan App, many of these modules come standard but as developers, we can create fan experiences that meet particular marketing or commercial objectives.

Critically, the views and opinions of fans should guide you. Creating that two-way conversation allows your brands and partners to determine the needs and wants of your audiences so you can turn engagement into revenue.

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