Back again this year we utilized the notification system “Send Pulse.” This system allows fans to subscribe to receive desktop push notifications, allowing them to more easily stay up-to-date on the latest news and happenings at Mississippi State, without having to open their phone. This system sends non-intrusive push notifications to the user’s desktop, which enables us to send out breaking news alerts, as well as push ticket sales for select events. Since it’s launch, we have accrued more than 6,000 Active Subscribers, and have yielded an 18% increase in the last year.
GET SITE CONTROL
“Get Site Control” lightbox system allows us to create targeted lightbox campaigns throughout our website to promote upcoming events and sell tickets. These lightboxes can be added to just the index page, or can be tied to specific subpages, such as a schedule page for a sport, or a specific press release. It can also be targeted to include or exclude users who meet certain characteristics, and can be set up to only appear at certain hours during the day.
Last year, we partnered with XOS Digital to become one of the first Athletic Marketing Departments to begin utilizing 360 degree videos for virtual reality promotional purposes. The goal of this partnership was 1) to marry recruiting and marketing and aid our coaches in their in-home or campus recruiting visits by showing prospects what it feels like to be a Bulldog and 2) to provide fans with a behind-the-scenes, fully immersive, and sensory “look” into aspects of our events that they would not usually receive. These experiences include sitting courtside at basketball games, running out of the tunnel with the football team, and being inside the locker room in pregame, to name a few. In addition to videos featuring these experiences, we have been able to use this technology to provide a recruiting advantage to our programs as we are able to showcase our facilities in a way that normal images and videos cannot. Currently, there are only two platforms that we are able to showcase these videos on being YouTube and Facebook. While we have only touched the tip of the iceberg when it to virtual reality, we will surely begin looking to expand heavily on this technology in the next year and invest in a more immersive and permanent MSU-branded structure/”dugout” for the VR experience. Currently, we are exploring options to create a virtual reality experience centered our our new $60 million dollar Dudy Noble Field project.
THE NEW BULLY’S KIDS CLUB
Kids Clubs – everyone has them. What better way to engage fans at an early age, and drive revenue for your department? But, what change to the traditional Kids Club model can make a program unique, and also drastically increase year-over-year revenue? Let me introduce to you the new Bully’s Kids Club – the future of kids clubs.
What makes BKC unique is the custom-built administrative system that helps manage and operate the program. Last year, we partnered with FanMaker for an ambitious project: design a fully custom, rewards-based kids club program that will help us in driving attendance at events, capture key data, and allow simple retention of members from year to year, so that the primary focus each year can be growth, not just retention. This system combines a traditional student rewards program with all of the standard features of a kids club, plus more.
The system was in much of a beta mode for the end of fall 2016 through the spring of 2017, with us beginning our first fully-operational year for 2017-18. The fully digital platform allows parents to sign up and create a parent account, then create sub accounts for each child. The parent can then download a “parent app” to use to run their account. Inside the app is a QR code, which is fully integrated with our Paciolan ticketing system, and is able to be used to scan in at all ticketed events where BKC members are admitted free. This QR code is also printed on each child’s personalized BKC ID card. Scanning this digital code eliminates the need for a member to visit the ticket office on game day to claim a ticket. The app also includes a prize store, a list of upcoming events, and a membership administration page. Member can receive points for attending games by simply opening the app and checking in based on geolocation. As the children attend events, they earn points, which can then be used in the prize store for age-specific prizes, or unique experiences at games.
The best aspect of the system for driving increased revenue each year is the ability to have accounts “auto-renew”. Since the entire system is built digitally, and parents mostly sign up using a credit card, they have the ability to check “auto-renew my child until they age out”.
As we look to drive increased membership, we strive to have a presence at all Mississippi State athletic events. We have a table set up with a digital iPad sign-up kiosk at every game to make people aware of BKC and to push new membership signups. Investing in an iPad with cellular data has been a beneficial addition to our program. This allows us to set up at any event without dependence on university wifi.
NEOLANE EMAIL CLIENT
Beginning August, 2017 Mississippi State Athletics launched the FanOne email client tool in order to maximize retaining old customers as well as using the platform to effectively reach potential new clients for Mississippi State. Most importantly, our team utilizes the platform to update fans on upcoming events, purchase information, promotions, and general news within the athletic department through our weekly newsletter labeled as the Hail State Update, or what the department labels it as, “This Week in StarkVegas.”
The database is effectively made up now of over 324,000 accounts and growing daily. Our strategy first is to maintain the relationships through effectively communicating with our current season ticket holders and donors through a platform our fans have not previously had. Second, we strive to reach new customers through strategic segmenting and targeting via emails that directly relate with those receiving the said messaging. In not even a year we have reached over 155,000 in revenue just through the FanOne email client tool alone.
Marketing automation is one of the tools we have utilized and relied on heavily from FanOne in order to effectively sell tickets and stay engaged with fan digital consumer activity. One of our practices is cart abandonment. Essentially automating an email message to a customer that has placed an item in their cart for checkout but for whatever reason did not complete the purchase. We work with Paciolan to place tracking on item codes that are left abandoned. If this occurs the user will receive an automated message that reminds them that they have not yet completed their purchase. If they click the link in the email it will directly send them back to their cart. We launched these campaigns for Football, Men’s and Women’s Basketball and Baseball. Another practice that we have seen success with is web tracking automation. Tracking tags are placed on different pages of our website that can read the IP address and serve it with an email based on what page the user was on. For example, if a fan that has never purchased football tickets and where to visit our page, specifically the football schedule and or ticket site multiple times in one week, our system would then turn around and serve an email to that user with general football ticket options.
PARTNERSHIP WITH MOGO
Mississippi State University was the first school to launch Mogo Interactive. Mogo Interactive is an integrated digital marketing firm that helps you engage & transact with customers across display, video, social, mobile & search. Online customer interactions happen on a different devices, across advertising channels like display, mobile, video, social and search. These interactions also occur across what can be length life cycle of brand engagement. Mogo simplifies the complexity. They are the experts in programmatic media buying and real-time bidding (RTB). They truly combine advance online advertising technology, customized campaign tactics, and provide a dedicated digital marketing team to deliver measurable results. We use the Mogo Client tools website to upload creative files, access exclusive client content like wbinears, and read about digital advertising best practices. The real-time reporting is truly first class and helps our team make weekly decisions on campaign adjustment. Our revenue this year is over $161,000 with an effective ROI of 8/1.
Perhaps one of the most innovative and useful/productive efforts we have recently launched is our data analytics (in turn, revenue-generation) campaign and partnership with one of the nation’s leaders, the Kraft Analytics Group (a.k.a. KAGR). Within this partnership, we mainly work with a mixture of KAGR staff and KAGR’s partner Learfield–this new joint venture is dubbed “KLEARintel” (K-Kraft plus LEAR-Learfield). We were fortunate to have been named the venture’s first partner; thereby harnessing the resources and power of two global leaders and leveraging the venture’s proprietary software, data warehouse, predictive analytics and targeted marketing services. Although we are still in the viewing and user-testing phases, we can realize the incredible power of such a robust infrastructure where the dashboards allow us to pull historic and real time data across all revenue-sports, incentive/loyalty programs, ticketing and fan experience platforms and donor data in order to give extremely detailed information on at-risk ticket accounts, attendance data, demographic and fan preference data, location and heat-mapping analysis, info on warm leads for our ticket and fundraising offices, advertising reports to more efficiently control areas of ad spends, etc. Through weekly status meetings, we are diving deeper into the crucial data analytics game and can also easily view inefficiencies and areas in which we need to focus more resources. Not only is this innovative relationship aiding us in analytics and revenue-generation, but it has also garnered national attention for our department through articles in the Sports Business Journal and also was a contributing factor in our team winning the “Rookie of the Year” Award at PACnet17 (the annual Paciolan/Spectra convention). This data has helped us in creating a new comprehensive pricing model for Davis Wade Stadium at Scott Field to re-price every seat in the stadium, some increasing in price, with others decreasing.
HAIL STATE REWARDS
In the summer of 2015, MSU Athletics partnered with FanMaker to launch an entirely new student rewards program to drive attendance at events. The goal of the Hail State Rewards program is increasing student support for all on-campus events, and encouraging students to scan their student ID at the venue in order to earn points. The program features an advanced student iOS/android application, as well as mobile and desktop websites. Students are able to check in by simply opening the HSR app, or if they have their bluetooth enabled, they will be checked in automatically as soon as they walk in the door. This allowed us to push students away from swiping their student identification card lets us track when students arrive at the venue as well as how long they stay. Using this data, we are able to learn about the student population and work to devise plans to keep students at events longer, and drive them out to the events earlier.
SIGNING UP IS SIMPLE | Students are able to easily sign-up, by utilizing our HSR kiosk system, which we worked to have custom built and developed when the program was launched, through a partnership with SpartaData and FanMaker. This kiosk is used at summer orientation events and each athletic event on campus to allow students to join the program, without ever having to visit a website. This technology pulls data from the student’s campus ID card and automatically creates a student reward profile for them. This kiosk system has now been adopted by a number of other universities using the FanMaker rewards system.
ANOTHER RECORD MEMBERSHIP | Another record year for Hail State Rewards was seen in 2017-201/. Due to the ease of sign-up and the new benefits associated with membership, participation in the program has grown tremendously, now boasting over 16,200 active members – an increase of nearly 254% since the 2014-15 academic year. This total active membership is equal to more than 70% of the eligible student population.
INNOVATION IN THE PRIZE STORE | The Hail State Rewards prize store is where students find the incentive of being an HSR member. Layered with unique giveaway items and Mississippi State apparel, we look to give students quality redemption options to really incentivise attending events. Another unique aspect of HSR is being able to redeem your points for experiences that students normally would not be allowed to have. Watching batting practice from the dugout, premium level seat at Davis Wade Stadium, or even being able to attend a football pro-day are just a few examples of the exclusive opportunities HSR members are offered through the prize store.
SPONSORSHIP ACTIVATION | With more than 16,200 active members to date, we have seen tremendous growth and popularity with the program in the last four years. With this popularity, local sponsors have found that HSR is a great way to expose their brand or business through a variety of promotional outlets built into the student rewards system.
This year, Campus Bookstore expanded their partnership with us, by offering new opportunities for students. They ran a promotion with us promoting book buy-backs during the month of December, as students were needing to sell back their textbooks. This campaign ran for two weeks and garnered 3,261 views. In January, they ran a second campaign with us promoting book purchasing, and garnered 14,430 views in a one month period. They also placed a series of book rentals in our prize store, for students to redeem and rent a textbook free of charge.
Maroon and Co., a local store that sells Mississippi State apparel, has also had great success in advertising through HSR. M&C ran a homecoming promotion for the second-straight year during the weekend of our homecoming football game, which enticed users to come to their store. Upon entering the store, students would automatically receive a notification with a discount coupon that they could apply at the register – through iBeacon sensors we installed in the building that integrate with the HSR iOS/Android app. This promotion ran for 4 days, and saw 698 impression in the store alone, and had another 7,515 impressions from their static ads. The beacons remain in the store and offer students a 15% off digital coupon discount every time they visit.
Another sponsor that received great results from a partnership with HSR is The Veranda, a popular restaurant in the Starkville community. The Veranda came on board with our program last year, when they became the hosts for our weekly coaches shows. This promotion allows HSR members to attend and gain points. They offer students a 10% off discount through the app, while attending “Dawg Talk”. Additionally, through their static ads, they have seen 60,863 impressions in the last year on their in-app mobile ads promoting the discount.
HSR JACKPOT | One additional sponsorship activation that was again utilized this year, which also was a great fan experience initiative for students was our HSR Jackpot at basketball. Wanting to drive attendance to our men’s basketball games as well as enhance the HSR experience, we partnered with Trustmark Bank to give away cash at every home game this season. This promotion was on in which one HSR member was randomly selected and announced in the Under 4 timeout in the second half, if the student was in attendance, they won the cash. If not, the jackpot increased by $100 for the next game.
THE DUDES | As was discussed in the FAN EXPERIENCE: BASEBALL section, students have the opportunity to join a subgroup of HSR, known as The Dudes. This program is a baseball-specific student group that is administered through the HSR system. Students are invited to an event at the baseball stadium prior to the season, where they scan their ID to join the program for the year. They can also redeem a “prize” to become a member of The dudes. This year when a student joins The Dudes, their profile accessed through the HSR app shows a different color banner and labels them as a “Dudes Member”. This banner allows them access to the grandstand chairback seating for specific games if season ticket holder do not occupy their seats. For joining, they earn a jersey t-shirt and a new section of the HSR Prize Store is then unlocked for them, with baseball-specific prizes for reaching baseball attendance milestones. For those who attend every home baseball game, they will receive an autographed bat from the team.
WHAT’S UNIQUE ABOUT OUR PROGRAM? | The Hail State Rewards system serves as an excitable promotion for students at every home athletic event, while also providing an outstanding benefit to the department’s Bulldog Club. Once a student signs up for the program, they agree to provide their basic student data (name, mailing address, email and phone number) to the Bulldog Club once they graduate, in order to have their Bulldog Club alumni account activated to enable them to purchase season tickets after graduation. The benefit for the student is that 25% of their earned HSR points are rolled over and converted to priority points in their Bulldog Club account. For first year graduates, they are able to use these points as a way to purchase football and basketball season tickets without a seat obligation. To date, we have activated more than 3,800 Bulldog Club accounts from HSR graduates.
DAVIS WADE STADIUM PROJECTION SCREEN
Every night in StarkVegas, the sky is lit up with the our on-stadium projection system from Quince Imaging. The system was launched in 2016 and provides a projection system for back of our North End Zone video board at Davis Wade Stadium. This system provides us an opportunity to have a digital video billboard on campus every night, where we can currently show recorded highlight videos and still graphics to promote Bulldog wins and upcoming MSU events. The next phase of the project will soon roll out, to allow us to play LIVE video and even movies on the board, complete with its own radio station, to be able to listen to the audio while watching from your car. The long-term plan for this display will be to show out of town games and post-game highlights from Bulldog victories.
As we continue to harness the latest innovations in the marketplace, we partnered with Hopscotch in 2017 to launch an entirely new app for our fans. This new app provides our fans with the best of in-game stats, scores, gameday maps, and everything a fan needs to maximize their experience. It also provides our fans the opportunity to receive unique push notifications for score updates, game starts, and sport-specific news – a major request from our fans as they look to keep up with our Bulldogs 24/7. This new app in its first year alone has accrued more than 22,000 downloads.
BULLDOG BARK BACK
The Mississippi State fan experience is the most important thing to our department. From the minute the fan steps on campus, to the minute they leave, we as a team strive to provide the best possible experience we can with the given resources provided. The only way we can do this is bye knowing our fans. By understanding their needs, wants, frustrations and satisfactions. Understanding these attributes enables us to make strategic decisions and adjustments before, during and after gamedays. The question is how do you truly know and understand your fans? What applications are you putting in place and what staff are you building in order to make changes. This year, the Mississippi State marketing team launched a program called “Bulldog Bark Back.” This initiative consists of 6 individuals on a committee. One Senior Staff Member, an Assistant A.D. of Marketing, Director of Digital Marketing, Director of Analytics, Director of Donor Relations, and Senior Associate A.D. of Event and Facility Management. Each week this group works to conduct questions to ask our fans following games in digital survey form. Questions range from how would you rate your gameday experience, to how long did it take you to exit campus following the game? These questions are developed, created for email and sent out via NeoLane Client Tools. Each week this group meets and analyzes the responses which is then followed by action. This group makes the appropriate parties aware of our fans concerns as well as following up to make sure that a change has been made. In order to show our fans how sincere we are about making change that they ask for, we record a series of videos with our Athletic Director who then specifically names different issues that are being addressed as well as naming those that have expressed joy or frustration. We believe that this is a unique way to show our fans directly that we are serious about their concerns and we are making the reasonable efforts we can to ensure you have the best gameday experience possible.
In order to maximize our 2018 football renewals, we launched a Personal Universals Resource Locator, or a PURL. A PURL is a personal URL or website solely dedicated to a season ticket holder (STH). We sent those links to all of our 2017 STH via email on the first day of the renewal period. When the page is opened, the first image is the last name of the STH placed on the back of a player jersey looking up into the stands. The goal was to really personalize the page in a unique way through powerful imagery. As the user scrolls down the page, a personal letter directed to the STH from Coach Moorhead comes up. The page is filled with many assets including powerful imagery best representing our program and is accompanied by an account information page with time left to renew and other account info, along with a page dedicated to our 2018 Schedule and an add to purchase unique football experiences through our Maroon Memories program. Compared to this time last year during the renewal period, we are up 8% in overall performance and project to finish at a record renewal rate this year.
Advancing our digital presence and utilizing the FanOne client tools platform has been a primary initiative for this year. Lead scoring has been at the forefront of our department to better understand our consumer activity and a way for us to take this information and create segmented audiences. Essentially, we score our fans based on activity such as visiting our website, opening emails, buying tickets, attending games and more. From there, we calculate the scores and target different groups with different messaging based on level of user engagement.
In order to continue providing our fans new and simple ways purchase tickets, and harness the latest innovations, we partnered with Reply Buy this year to allow our fans to purchase tickets directly via text message. In this first year, we have built up a follower base of more than 2,700 customers and have completed more than 750 total transactions for over $25k in new revenue.
CUSTOM URL SHORTENER
To further promote our brand in all social posts, we have taken advantage of the custom URL shortener feature offered by Bitly to create custom “HailState.com” branded URLs in all of our posts. Instead of using the standard Twitter URL shortener, we use this custom branded shortener to ensure even the links in our posts are on brand.
SPREDFAST IN-VENUE INTEGRATION
This year, we expanded our partnership with Spredfast to further enhance our in-venue experiences with upgraded social to video board displays. This partnership with Spredfast allowed us to roll out sponsor-integrated elements at football, basketball and baseball, such as #MaroonSelfies photo display and Tweet to Screen displays. We also utilized their polling feature to offer in-game polls for music and players of the game. In football season alone, more than 1,400 tweets, and more than 700 selfies were approved and displayed on our video boards in Davis Wade Stadium.