Why University Athletic Departments Should Take Advantage of Mobile Marketing

We all know about the rapid, ongoing increase of mobile usage among consumers, and the fact that Google’s search ranking algorithm now favors mobile-friendly websites on mobile platforms. But we should also be aware of the impact that mobile marketing is having on businesses and individuals.

Companies are beginning to invest heavily in mobile apps and ads. According to Smart Insights, based on a study by emarketer.com, mobile ad spending is predicted to increase from $28.7 billion in 2015 to a whopping $65.8 billion in 2019, and by that time will account for 72.2% of all digital ad spending. Those are astronomical figures, and brands that don’t begin marketing on mobile now will surely regret it down the line.

However, not every business sector is taking advantage of the obvious mobile marketing monster. Specifically, university athletic departments could be benefitting immensely from mobile marketing. Here’s why:

1. Stats Back Mobile Usage

If you’re looking for evidence to support mobile usage, there is no shortage of data backing mobile:

  • 77% of 18-29 year olds with an annual household income of less than $30,000 are smartphone owners. (Source: Pew Recearch Center)
  • 1 in 4 mobile subscribers over the age of 55 own a smartphone. (Source: mannixmarketing.com)
  • Average open rate on email campaigns is less than 22%. Mobile open rates are 97% overall. (Source: Portio Research)
  • It take the average person 90 minutes to respond to an email, while it takes the average person 90 seconds to respond to a text message. (Source: CTIA.org)
  • Families are more likely to have a cell-phone with internet access in their home than a laptop or desktop computer. (Source: Borrell Associates)
  • 91% of all U.S. Citizens have their mobile device within reach 24/7. (Source: Morgan Stanley)

As illustrated, the data doesn’t lie about the impact mobile has had on our everyday lives, and this is just scratching the data surface. Data aside, isn’t general observation enough to prove the power of mobile? Just look around you! Nearly everyone owns a mobile device, people are constantly glued to their cell phones and tablets, and new mobile apps are consistently being created and adopted. When the stats match the eye test, it’s next to impossible to argue against mobile’s overall impact on society.

2. Universities have the perfect target market right under their noses

The hot demographic to market to right now in nearly any industry is millennials.

Why? Millennials (ages 19-36) are currently the largest demographic in the U.S. As I’ve said before, with a market size of 75.7 million and an estimated purchasing power of 1.68 trillion, the sheer size of this generation it too large for marketers to ignore.

In addition to that purchasing power, average household income ($60,000), and market size, Millennials are a lot more flexible in how they spend.

What does that mean for universities? It means that one of the largest demographics for marketers to target is already engaged in the university! Because Millennials are huge mobile device users, they’er perfect demographic to target for mobile campaigns. And the hard part (getting millennials engaged with a particular product or service, i.e., the university’s sports teams) is essentially done with the student already enrolled at the university.

Unless your college has poor athletic programs (and even if they do) many students are already engaged in the sports programs. A large cohort of students truly care about the success of your university’s football and basketball programs, among others, and that passion alone will allow you to market those teams through mobile campaigns. And because that target market is millennials, the size, purchasing power and flexibility of this target market can reap huge returns on your mobile campaigns.

3. Sporting events are perfect for mobile marketing

I’m a true believer that in this day and age, with the amount of time people spend on their mobile devices, and the amount of people with mobile devices, that nearly any event can take advantage of mobile marketing.

But there’s something about sporting events that can take mobile marketing to another level. Maybe it’s keeping up with stats and scores while you’re at a game, or maybe it’s letting all of your friends know on Instagram that you scored some amazing seats. There are simply so many opportunities for university athletic departments to take advantage of mobile marketing.

Professional sports franchises are already doing it. For example, any time you use a team-focused hashtag on Twitter while you’re at a game (#gomariners) and the social media marketing team puts your tweet on the big screen, that’s mobile marketing. The franchise is engaging with it’s fans. University athletic programs can do this as well, and so much more. Here are some additional examples of how university athletic departments can take advantage of mobile marketing at sporting events:

  • In-game texts of highlights
  • Giveaways and coupons
  • Score and stat alerts
  • In-game contests

These are just a few in-game ideas, and all of these opportunities don’t even include what universities can do before and after games. Reminders about sporting events, ticket promotions and discounts, and post-game alerts are all possibilities, making sporting events perfect for mobile marketing.

4. Mobile marketing would increase sales and brand awareness

The main goal of nearly any marketing campaign is to drive sales and increase revenue. Mobile marketing campaigns are no exception, and if used correctly, university athletic departments can put more fans in the stands while also increasing brand awareness.

Want more students and alumni to attend your university’s basketball games? Get them to opt-in to a text alert list that pushes pre-game promotions, special event alerts, and discounted ticket packages. I can’t tell you how many basketball games I didn’t attend at my university simply because I wasn’t aware a game was happening.

Because the open rate of mobile messages is so much higher than email, you’ll be sure that at the very least your message will be received and read, increasing brand awareness. Combine that with timely promotions, discounts, giveaways, and social media account promotion, and you’ll see your ticket sales increase in addition to your overall brand awareness.

5. Mobile marketing is extremely cost-effective

With the obvious benefits and advantages mobile marketing presents, you’re probably asking yourself what it actually costs to potentially send out thousands of text messages a month to segmented lists. It’s got to be pretty expensive right? In reality, mobile messaging and marketing rates are some of, if not the, most cost-effective marketing tactics currently in use.

Depending on the provider, marketing three separate promotions per month, to one lead, could cost as little as $.36 a year. Is that worth it if that lead attends even one additional basketball game?

Based on those numbers, think about that return mobile marketing could provide on a much grander scale.

All of this adds up to the conclusion that mobile marketing is growing, and there is a huge opportunity for university athletic departments to take advantage of this simple, cost-effective marketing strategy that could put many of them on the cutting edge of marketing and technology. With so many opportunities for exciting mobile marketing ideas centered around athletics, I’m surprised more universities haven’t already implemented mobile into their marketing strategies.

If your athletic department is interested in getting involved with mobile marketing, contact us today to learn more about how you can. You can also check out our free mobile marketing resources by reading our blog posts or downloading our free eBooks.


Written by Luke Severn

Luke is a marketing coordinator at Kaufer DMC. He loves the Arctic Monkeys, David Fincher movies, and the Portland Trail Blazers.

Published July 14, 2015 by Luke Severn.
Categories: Mobile Marketing