Kassy McAloon, the manager of Marketing and New Media at Penn, credits both the multipurpose SuperFan program and an attentive marketing team with the unprecedented increases in fan engagement that Penn has experienced over the 2014-2015 year.
As a private university in the Ivy League, Penn has been no stranger to the struggle of reaching fans. When the school first signed on with SuperFan and created Penn Rewards two years ago, McAloon and the Penn athletic department were merely scratching the surface of fan reach and interaction, often grappling with the issue of sustaining fan enthusiasm. However, over the past two years Penn has utilized the synergistic combination of Penn Rewards and renewed marketing approaches to improve program value and supply fans with satisfying experiences.
Penn Rewards is a multifaceted mobile application and website that aims to reward fans of Penn Athletics for demonstrated dedication. Members of the program experience rewards by earning points for attending games, and unlocking certain prizes as they accumulate these points. In the Penn Rewards app’s inaugural year, the program saw beginning signs of success, with increases in fan interaction and reach. However, instead of falling into the trap of complacency and being satisfied with these initial positive results, McAloon has maximized efforts in order to capitalize on this success. As a result, the Penn Rewards program and subsequently, Penn Athletics, has experienced phenomenal growth.
Like many schools across the country, McAloon and her team at Penn do not have a limitless deposit of resources at their disposal. However, they still have been able to achieve this extreme growth by utilizing the dynamic capabilities of the program to the fullest extent, and promoting the program as an integral part of the gameday experience through expanded marketing. Advertising the program to a higher degree and emphasizing the Penn Rewards program reaped significant returns across the board for McAloon and Penn Athletics, including nearly doubling the number of active users of the Penn Rewards app, and a staggering 146% jump in event checkins on the app over the entirety of the year. Penn has become a true testament to the heightened levels of success available when maximizing the abilities of the SuperFan platform.
After several tries at our fan loyalty app, Penn Rewards has finally come alive thanks to SuperFan! Our fans love the new Penn Rewards! The app looks great and, even better; it’s easy for our fans to check-in, redeem rewards, and use Fan Cam. Showing your Quaker pride has never been easier!
In revitalizing her efforts McAloon also discovered a crucial component of the Penn Rewards program that promoted significant success: the acknowledgment aspect of the prize system. There was a 1266% increase in event checkins this year for Penn events that featured prizes, and a significant growth in the number of app users that unlocked prizes from last year to this year. These results point to one imperative tool of augmenting engagement that many athletic departments ignore: fan recognition. The increased number of Penn Rewards members who took advantages of the points and prizes aspects of the program in the 2014-2015 year suggest that for fans, the ability to supplement points and be seen as a Quaker SuperFan is as important than the physical prizes themselves.
As a result, Penn has learned to place more of a focus on program aspects like the Leaderboard, which compares the point
totals of all the Penn Rewards members, to emphasize this recognition and keep fans engaged. This demonstrates that with the SuperFan platform, schools like Penn can satisfy fans and bolster their audience without breaking the bank on excessively lucrative prizes.
The goal of the SuperFan plan is to provide the best possible technology and practices to assist schools in constructing
the superior fan experience. University of Pennsylvania’s experience confirms that with concentrated focus and promotion of the program, considerable success is within reach, regardless of school size and resources. For that matter, a willingness to learn from the extensive data the program provides and learn from initial results can lead to measurable growth, as it has for McAloon and her team. Like any other school, fans are the ultimate driving force of the Penn athletic program, and in committing to the SuperFan platform Penn has been able to expand to a wider range of audiences, while delivering an all around fan experience.