How The 49ers Use The Power of Mobile To Connect With Fans

Read Time: 5 - 10 min

Meet Meghan Ryan, Director of Digital and Social Marketing at the 49ers, and featured speaker at Engage 2016. Meghan was kind enough to talk through why mobile engagement matters to the 49ers, and how Localytics comes into play. 🏈

When you think about your favorite football team, odds are an app doesn’t come to mind. But for the San Francisco 49ers, an app is an integral part of how they stay connected with their fans.
From breaking news, score updates, and even digital ticketing, the 49ers mobile app is a one stop shop for fans looking to connect with their team, which is why mobile is at the forefront of their digital marketing strategy.

Recently, the 49ers teamed up with us at Localytics, and are doing some pretty exciting things in mobile, like using Places to connect with fans at the game. They set up geofences around several locations at Levi’s Stadium, from tailgate lots to the team store, and then sent the following geopush to fans who were tailgating:


As someone who’s been known to forget a thing or two at home, this is pretty cool stuff.

I had the pleasure of connecting with Meghan Ryan, Director of Digital and Social Marketing at the 49ers, who oversees their mobile app strategy. We chatted about how the 49ers are using their app to create an omni-channel experience for their fans, the mobile metrics that matter to them, and what’s next on the mobile horizon for them.


Something on the minds of all mobile marketers is how to bring their app to the next level. How has your app evolved since you first launched?

Our app offers all the top 49ers news you want, but our focus lately has been around really creating mobile exclusive features that you can't find on mobile web or desktop. We've focused a lot on UI improvements since we first launched, and I think the design aesthetic is something we're really proud of.

We are using Localytics to make sure that we are properly nurturing and messaging our users with the content they want to see when they want to see it.

From your perspective, how does mobile marketing differ from traditional or digital marketing?
It's really all about platform specific messaging. The copy and timing is key as is tone, voice, and presentation. We know we have an extremely avid fan base and we want to message those fans in a different way than some of our more casual fans who we may only reach with our traditional marketing efforts.


Analyzing user data is essential to ensuring you’re focused on the right things. Any surprising or interesting tidbits you found from analyzing user data?

We are in a performance based industry and our metrics typically struggle across the board after a loss. We can be down 50% across key KPIs on most platforms, but our app traffic is least resistant to team performance. Our app users consume our content at a rapid pace. We know that our users are some of our most avid fans.

What are the mobile metrics you rely on to steer your strategy?

We are looking at usage and engagement metrics to really steer our strategy. We are ranked against all other 31 clubs in terms of key traffic and engagement metrics for our desktop, mobile web, and mobile app platforms.

We are in the top quartile across all categories, and adjust our content decisions based on these reports. With Localytics, we're able to more effectively measure the success of our messaging campaigns, and the overall usage trends in our app.

How has your app helped you to connect with 49ers fans?

Sports is a 24/7 business and our app has helped us provide breaking news and information at the fingertips of our fans. Being in Silicon Valley and a mobile heavy area, we've seen the traffic continue to increase on our app as our desktop traffic decreases. We want to give our fans the information they want on the device where they are spending so much time.


I’ve heard you’re doing some really cool things with augmented/virtual reality. Can you talk me through how you’re using it?

2016 marks the 70th season of 49ers football and we're celebrating with a multi-layered brand campaign encompassing stadium, retail, out-of-home, social, and digital touchpoints. One element of the campaign is a new augmented reality experience within the 49ers app to help celebrate 7 decades of this historic franchise. We wanted to create an experience with a nod to some of the amazing moments in team history, while staying at the forefront of technology and innovation.

When you open the San Francisco 49ers app, you are able to “scan” and bring to life one of nine limited edition cards to activate a video. Each card triggers its own video, and with all nine cards you can create a special tenth video by putting the cards together to form the 70th Anniversary logo on the back of the card. These cards will be given out to the first 2,000 fans outside the 49ers Team Store at every home game.

What’s next for the app? Anything exciting on the roadmap or future aspirations?

Next for the app is really getting a better understanding of who are users are, and getting smarter about how and when we message them - thanks to Localytics.

We are looking to build out our data warehouse and ideally would like to feed mobile app data into that warehouse so that we can build out more complex profiles on our fans.

"The 49ers were one of the first teams to completely adopt digital ticketing, so mobile adoption is at the core of our business goals. We're excited to see how the app can help us reach more fans in a targeted way, and gather greater insights on those fans."

What’s one piece of advice you’d give to other sports teams looking to venture into the mobile app world?

I would say it's key to find the right partners. Don't rush into anything. You can start small and build up and then make changes as you start to see growth. It's important to work with a great development team who understands the atypical hours that sports teams have and is willing to be available should any issues occur during that Sunday night game, or last minute before an early morning press conference.

Since I received a tip-off that you’re from Boston - do you have any conflicting feelings about the upcoming 49ers/Pats game in November? 

I have a lot of friends and family coming out for the game! I will definitely be pulling for a 49ers win so we can share lots of amazing content on the app - my family and friends will have to stay neutral if they still want my tickets.

Thank you, Meghan! You can hear more 
on how the 49ers are engaging fans with mobile at ENGAGE 2016. Learn more.








A native of Newburyport, Massachusetts, Meghan began her career by spending 6 seasons with the Boston Red Sox before moving out to the Bay Area and the San Francisco 49ers in June of 2015. Meghan is the Director of Digital and Social Marketing for the Niners and in her current role she is responsible for all digital strategy for the team and Levi’s Stadium. Her team oversees editorial work and content creation for,, email, social, and the 49ers mobile app. She has partnered with Localytics to drive engagement and provide targeted contextual messaging for 49ers fans through their mobile app.