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Fan and Team Engagement with Northwoods League Mobile App Soared in 2017

Commitment to technology drives Northwoods League initiatives – Part 2 of 3

Rochester, Minn. – Led by the Bismarck Larks and their fans, downloads for the Northwoods League mobile app doubled year-over-year, as new features increased opportunities for fan engagement. The custom mobile app, developed and managed through the Northwoods League office, is one of several technology-based initiatives that have come to define the Northwoods League as a leader in this area. Collectively these initiatives strive to maximize the operational effectiveness of its Affiliates, strengthen connections with fans, and support the development of talent on and off the field. This is the second release in a three-part series focused on how technology is an integral component of the Northwoods League mission.

After launching the Northwoods League mobile app in 2016 with basic informational features, the goal for 2017 was to provide affiliate teams with tools that would allow them to integrate the app into their game-day operations and marketing initiatives. “As a League, we felt we had a great opportunity through the mobile app to support the creative marketing efforts of our affiliates, and interact with fans in a meaningful way, using technology they have in their hands, literally, every day,” said Gary Hoover, President of the Northwoods League. Recent research conducted by comScore supports this approach, citing 87% of mobile device usage is spent on apps, versus 13% on mobile web pages.

As a new team, the Bismarck Larks communicated with fans from day one that for fast, convenient information, they need look no farther than the Northwoods League app. The team also heavily integrated its promotional programs and fan experience into the app, directing fans to the app to sign-up for on-field games, check out community programs, and participate in major team giveaways which included a car, boat and new home. According to Larks General Manager, John Bollinger, the decision to integrate the mobile app into the team’s daily operations was easy. “Nowadays, everyone is on their phone. And when fans want information, they want it fast and convenient. The NWL app does just that.”  Bollinger added, “As a team, the app is not only important for its end user functionality, but also for its marketing capabilities. This season, the Larks used the app’s push notification platform numerous times to promote special ticket packages, promotional giveaways, and even used it to give fans weather updates for rainy games.”  

Bismarck fans responded to the approach, capturing nearly 25% of the “Favorite Team” designations of the app users.  Other teams rounding out the top five included the Fond du Lac Dock Spiders, Wisconsin Rapids Rafters, Kalamazoo Growlers and St. Cloud Rox.

Team-controlled content and push notifications for the app are managed through the same admin tool as the team websites. Leveraging existing technology shortens the learning curve as well as the administration time needed to implement team initiatives through the mobile app. “The growth in both fan and team adoption of the Northwoods League mobile app in 2017 reaffirmed our decision to build and manage this technology internally,” said Greg Goodwin, Vice President Technology Development. “It allows us to integrate with other League technology platforms and adapt to feedback from member teams in a way that would not be possible using a third-party.”

Northwoods League fans and app users can look for additional upgrades for the 2018 season.

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The Northwoods League is the proven leader in the development of elite college baseball players. The 23-year old summer collegiate league is the largest organized baseball league in the world with 20 teams, drawing significantly more fans, in a friendly ballpark experience, than any league of its kind. A valuable training ground for coaches, umpires and front office staff, 180 former Northwoods League players have advanced to Major League Baseball, including two-time Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer (WAS), two-time World Series Champion Ben Zobrist (CHC) and MLB All-Stars Chris Sale (BOS), Jordan Zimmermann (DET), Curtis Granderson (NYM) and Lucas Duda (NYM). All league games are viewable live via the Northwoods League website. For more information, visit www.northwoodsleague.com or download the Northwoods League Mobile App on the Apple App Store or on Google Play.