How Minnesota State University Boosts Community Engagement and Sponsorships with Its App Launch

Minnesota State mascot

Diving into the world of sports marketing and community engagement, we spoke with Scott Nelsen, the Assistant Athletic Director of Marketing, Promotions, and Community Engagement at Minnesota State University. Nestled in the heart of Mankato, Minnesota, the Mavericks boast a rich tradition of athletic excellence. Scott shares insights into the university’s innovative approach to fan and community engagement through the launch of their app, how push notifications through the app are changing the game, and what the community response has been.

Scott Nelsen, Assistant Athletic Director of Marketing, Promotions, and Community Engagement at Minnesota State University
Scott Nelsen, Assistant Athletic Director of Marketing, Promotions,
and Community Engagement at Minnesota State University

Why did you decide to invest in the FanX app for your school?
Scott Nelsen: You know, we’ve been kicking around the idea of an app and what that would exactly look like for a while, mainly because our student rewards program had grown extremely stale. We were manually checking in students, and we wanted to automate the process with geofencing. We started the conversation with Snap! Mobile (formerly FNO), and we had gotten a couple of sponsors on board to help us with the app to get it going. We launched in August literally days before we opened our first football game… so that was pretty exciting for people to come to the game and have that new tool to watch the game as a second stream, either in-arena or at home.

You mentioned two things: First, you were searching for a solution for the rewards program. And second, you mentioned that you launched with a sponsor. Can you elaborate on that?
Scott Nelsen: We wanted to make sure on our end that, since this was an investment in our programming department here, we had some buy-in from those who could see the value. And as we continue to develop and evolve as a department using the app, we have more and more analytics and metrics to show our sponsors. We’re able to show them that the app is a great bang for their buck, and we’re really excited to see what this summer brings for us in terms of sponsorship renewals.

Do you believe the app is going to create new revenue streams for you that didn’t already exist?
Scott Nelsen: Absolutely. First off, we have a title sponsor on our splash page, and that money never existed before. I think the more we dive into it and see what we can do, the more doors will open. We gave the trivia feature to our title sponsor, for now, but we’re discussing the idea of breaking apart trivia and having a separate sponsor for that… and then maybe approach the app section-by-section. Those are things we hadn’t had before, and as we continue to evolve and work on those new sponsorships, I think we have a lot more revenue potential than we’ve ever had before.

Screen shot of Minnesota State app

Has there been anything that has surprised you about the product itself or the adoption by the community?
Scott Nelsen: I’ve really made it a point to start digging in a little deeper to understand how we can better use the app this last month, and a lot of that stems from our men’s hockey coach and our junior forward both playing on the Olympic team. I was able to send a few push notifications out to see what kind of engagement we’d be getting from those, and I was really happy with it. From there, we’ve kind of just been rolling the notifications out to all of our sports on the app. I’ve had our track coach come up to me and say, ‘It’s awesome that you’re putting the player of the week out on the app…that’s really cool.’ So little things like that, that, you know, might seem like nickels and dimes when you look at the numbers, but those are all people that are coming back to the app more and more to get information.

It’s evident that Minnesota State University is committed to improving community engagement and sponsorship collaboration. A continuous focus on improving and expanding their app will further enhance the fan experience, boost community engagement, and drive revenue that can transform the game both on and off the field.

Ready to learn more? Check out the app for yourself. During your demo, ask us how you can partner with Snap! Mobile to unlock up to 75% off for a limited time only.