How the 49ers Mobile App Is Personalizing the Fan Experience

Read Time: 5 min


Sports fans have a lot of different options for consuming entertainment and news.

So how does a mobile app for a single team—in this case the San Francisco 49ers—stand out? By providing unique and exclusive content, behind-the-scenes stuff that other news outlets might not have.

And, of course, by doing really cool things with mobile.

In the most recent episode of Appy Hour Meghan Ryan, the 49ers Director of Digital and Social Marketing, shared how the team is using their mobile app to constantly improve fan experience.

Audience Segmentation


We asked Meghan how the 49ers think about segmentation when it comes to their fan base, and her answer was simple but interesting.

They’ve built a “Preference” setting in their app where users can determine what type of notifications they receive. They’d love to send all push notifications to everyone available, but they recognize that you might not want to receive every single notification they could possibly send.

So they’ve set up settings for breaking news, live programming, live press conferences, and so on. Those happen daily, so of course some fans will want to turn them off. But others won’t.

Maybe you’re just interested in general content, or game updates, or promotions. They segment users based on their preferences and based on different actions that they’ve taken in the app.

They also want to reach the right person at the right time. If you’re a 49ers fan living in Boston, a notification telling you about a sweepstakes taking place at the stadium isn’t going to be relevant to you.

Especially in the early stages of mobile messaging, a lot of folks were doing the batch and blast approach. The 49ers had finessed their methods on the email side, and over the past year or so they’ve gotten more sophisticated within their app.

They recognize that a mass number of sends isn’t the greatest indicator of success. It’s clickthroughs and opens on their content that counts.

“It may be a smaller audience that you’re sending to,” Meghan said, “but it’s the right audience.”

Location-Based Marketing

Location-based marketing is a huge buzz phrase this year. We asked Meghan how the 49ers have tapped into it.

They actually go a step further than those basic preferences: they also segment by geolocation. They worked with the Localytics Places product and set up a number of geofences and did some awesome things with them.

Admittedly, they didn’t have a great year on the football field, so numbers were down. But there are a ton of opportunities for growth. They set up geofences around Levi’s Stadium, around their team store in Santa Clara, and their team store in San Francisco.

They also set up geofences around each of the stadiums and airports of the visiting teams they played last year. They were able to send notifications to fans who were supporting them on the road. It’s pretty cool if you’re flying into the Miami, Buffalo, or Chicago airports and you get a “Welcome to the city. Go Niners!” message.

It’s interesting: a lot of people think of triggering location-based messaging off of beacons, but the great part of using geo is that you don’t need to have any infrastructure or building set up. There are no hardware or setup costs. It’s a unique opportunity for watch parties and more.

The Future of Mobile


Click on the image to listen to the episode!


We like to ask all of our guests on the Appy Hour podcast this question: Where do you think the future of mobile is headed?

Here was Meghan’s answer:

“The possibilities are endless. We think of it in how we create content, moving away from the 16 by 9 format and creating content for mobile specifically. Then it’s getting that omni view of our fans. As brands get smarter about all of the data points that they’re collecting from their customers across various touch points, mobile will be an increasingly important piece of that puzzle.”

This post is based on a podcast interview with Meghan Ryan from the San Francisco 49ers. To hear this episode, and many more like it, you can subscribe to Appy Hour.

If you don’t use iTunes, you can listen to every episode here.