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Text Messaging Saves The Day!

Feature Highlight, Product News, Value of LeagueApps

Several LeagueApps partners are seeing fantastic results from the new Text Messaging app.

Text Messaging app on LeagueApps

The Text app has been incredibly helpful for league partners needing to send last-minute time/field changes, cancellations or other time-sensitive announcements. This makes sense, considering that text messaging is the most effective way to reach people quickly — over 90% of all texts are READ within the first three minutes (source)!

Informed members are happy members! Just ask our partner Delaware Sports League (DSL). This past season, DSL saw a huge boost in productivity and ease of communications with their members — all from using the Text app. They sent over 50 instantly delivered announcements, reaching over 4,500 people! This resulted in a substantially reduced likelihood of people being unaware of these cancellations, and ultimately greater satisfaction among members.

How Can You Achieve These Results?

The #1 key to achieving successful results is getting your members “opted-in” to receiving texts. Once you have excellent opt-in coverage among your members, the Text app instantly becomes a powerful real-time communication line with your members.

Cell Phone Collection During Registration
To address this, we added a new feature that makes it a CINCH to get your members opted-in — Cell phone collection during registration. Your members are now able to provide their cell phone number at the exact same time they are completing their registration. This ensures that they don’t need to come back later to provide their number, a condition which leads to lower completion rates.

Cell Phone Collection During Registration

Use Previously Collected Member Phone Numbers
Additionally, we’re offering a special service for partners who have previously collected phone numbers from their members using custom profile fields. In this service, we will automatically opt-in those of your members who had previously provided valid phone numbers in a custom profile field. This service is a one time fee of $150. It also requires that you have been collecting phone numbers using the custom profile fields. If you’re interested in this service, please let us know.

We’re convinced that once you have high opt-in coverage among your members, you’ll see significant value from the Text Messaging app. In case you’re wondering, the best way to see how many of your members are opted-in is to go into the messaging tool in the console (Messaging > Compose a message) and look at the recipient count display on the right side of the page.

What’s The Next Step?

Your first step is to activate the Text Messaging app if you haven’t already done so. To do this, login to your admin console and visit the App Center to get started.

Once your Text app is activated, you can quickly begin experiencing the benefits of having a real-time communication line with your members. Here are the simple steps to quickly get your members opted-in:

  • (1) It’s happening automatically as they register for programs. You don’t need to do anything! As your members register, they will get opted-in.
  • (2) If it makes sense for you, consider the automatic text opt-in service explained above. Reach out to us to schedule this service.
  • (3) You can also promote Text Messaging to your members on your own, and encourage them to opt-in. One thing we recommend is to send an email blast promoting it and asking your members to opt-in. Here’s a helpful blog post that outlines some easy ways to promote this to your members.

Payment Plans and New Registration Features

Best Practices, Feature Highlight, Product News, Value of LeagueApps

We added some great new additions to the product that we wanted to share with you! These updates are primarily aimed at giving partners even greater flexibility in choosing how they setup their registrations and how they collect and track payments from participants. Here’s a overview of what’s included.

Payment Plans

Payment Plans on LeagueApps

The payment plans feature is a powerful addition to the registration tools. It allows a partner to collect and track registration payments from their members in a series of installments at specific due dates. This is great for partners who offer more expensive and/or longer running programs for which they would like to allow their participants to pay in multiple separate installments, part of a greater total, over time.

Key Benefits of Payment Plans

Here are some of key features that make payments plans so powerful:

  • Partners can create and manage multiple payment plans per program. This is great if you want to offer different payment plan options, each with a slightly different overall fee and payment schedule.
  • Registering participants can choose to either pay the full program fee up front, or select one of the available payment plans.
  • Automatic installment reminder emails stay on top of payment collections on your behalf. You can specify when you want the reminder emails to be sent, and how often you want follow-up emails to be sent after due dates.
  • Tracking of payment plan statuses is easy. The manager console includes status information on all participants’ payment plans, allowing partners to track and manage outstanding plans.
  • Messaging members with outstanding balances is a cinch. The messaging tool now supports filtering recipients by specific outstanding amount owed. This new filtering capability allows partners to target their members based on the overall amount they still owe (within a specified range).

Learn more about how to get started with using Payment Plans by reading our support article How to Create Payment Plans for your Organization.

Registration Feature Updates

We also made a number of significant enhancements to other registration tools. Many of these updates came from careful review of your feedback.

Custom registration fields for staff
Registration form fields can now be customized to collect information specific to various staff roles. This is useful if you want to collect certain types of information from only Coaches, or from only Volunteers, but not from players.

Registration by Division
If you use divisions to organize your teams within a program, you can now have your team captain or coach select the division themselves as they are registering and setting up the team. You have the option to turn this feature on or off.

Partial payments
We made improvements to the partial payments feature so that it now accepts partial payments in all possible registration scenarios. This feature is useful if you like to allow members to pay a “down payment” up front, and then pay the remainder of the registration fee later by a specified due date.

Family Account Improvements

We made some important enhancements to some settings and features that support the use of Family Accounts.

  • Child vs Parent DOB requirement. Partners can now specify in settings (Settings > Member Profile) to require the child birthdate while NOT requiring the parent birthdate.
  • Full parental access to child invoices. Multiple parents in the same family account (e.g., both the Mother and Father) can now both access and pay invoices for any of their childrens’ registrations.
  • Full parental information in registration report export. The registration report export now includes the name and email address for ALL parents in each child participant’s family account.

Messaging Enhancements

We added a couple key enhancements to messaging related features. Check them out.

Member-to-member messaging restriction
There is now a setting (under Settings > Site Settings) that allows partners to restrict the ability of their members to message/email other members. The possible options are:

  • Any logged in member can message any other member.
  • Only members within the same programs can message each other.
  • Only members within the same teams can message each other.

This gives our partners the choice of how much or how little direct member-to-member messaging they want to allow among their members.

Inline collection of cell phone during registration
Your members are now automatically asked for their cell phone number during the registration process. This allows you to capture your members’ phone numbers in the right format for later use. This new field also ties into the Text Messaging app, automatically opting in your members to receive texts once they provide their cell number during registration. You have the option to turn this feature on or off, under Settings > Member Profile.

Additional Updates

There are a few other updates included in this release that we wanted to share:

Console notifications
You’ll now notice a new ‘notification’ alert icon in the top right of browser when you’re logged into the manager console. We’ll use this to make important and useful announcements that you should be aware of, as a LeagueApps partner.

What’s New page
We added a new page in the manager console that lists all the release notes from previous releases. If you missed a recent release, check out this page to get the overview. This page can be accessed from the console user drop down menu that appears when you click your name in the upper right of the console.

Performance and infrastructure upgrades
We’re always monitoring and making improvements to the underlying infrastructure that powered the platform. In this release, we added a number of optimizations and enhancements to the underlying technology — aimed at increasing stability and speed performance of your LeagueApps account.

As always, we’re here and looking forward to any questions or comments you have as you check out the new features. Let us know!

LeagueApps Adult Sports Advisory Board Aims To Bring Partner Perspective To The Forefront

Best Practices, Company News, Rec, Value of LeagueApps

LeagueApps is excited to announce the formation of an Adult Sports Advisory Board. This concept started from the many spirited feedback sessions and conversations with our adult sports league partners. We recognize that LeagueApps has a better chance of being more valuable if we collaborate with our partners and learn more about their organizations. We need to do better job being more attentive to suggestions, ideas and concerns. So we’re bringing in the experts to work more directly with the LeagueApps product and partner management teams.

The initial advisory group includes heavy-hitters from all over the country. We appreciate all of these folks volunteering to be part of this group as we attempt to get it off the ground. So we want to introduce and say thanks to:

After a bunch of individual conversations we held the inaugural LeagueApps Advisory Board meeting on November 3rd, 2014. The meeting was held virtually via Google Hangouts since the LeagueApps teams and our partners involved are spread out across the country.

Our Advisory Board partners all brought their A-games! Everyone cleared out their Monday mornings and brought great energy and enthusiasm to the meeting. The LeagueApps team tips our hats to all of them for taking time out of their busy schedules. Brian and Asaf participated from the LeagueApps Team in NYC, while Gautam repped the product team in DC.

The small group dynamic was conducive for great product discussion and feedback. The Advisory Board shared their thoughts and ideas about how LeagueApps can help with our partners’ league management and operations.

We started the meeting by unveiling a few projects in development or recently released, including mobile projects and API / Open Platform initiatives. Our partners shared the importance of registration and scheduling for their players’ mobile experience. We also had a great discussion around the external digital tools that our partners utilize for different parts of their business, including Mailchimp (email marketing), Quickbooks (accounting), and Zendesk (customer service). It’s our goal to make LeagueApps a more “open” platform that can integrate with external tools in 2015. So it’s helpful to better understand which tools are most popular and valuable to our partners.

Mobile, Scheduling, and Privacy were the focused topics of conversation. We took away many key lessons from the Advisory Board meeting including:

 

Scheduling

Our partners stressed the importance of good scheduling-making tools for their operations and the types of generator improvements that would be most valuable to them.

  • Taking into account all considerations, field, days, bye weeks, odd number of teams, blackout dates
  • More streamlined schedule-editing with less steps involved

Some partners already use external scheduler tools or have processes that work well. LeagueApps is building a schedule import tool to streamline the import process. In addition to schedule-making, schedule management and publishing is is also important to our partners. We discussed how manually adding single games can be made easier and quicker. Also, showing team colors on schedules would be very helpful for players.

Mobile

The Advisory Board had great ideas and suggestions regarding our latest mobile updates. For SMS, the partners said the opt-in process is cumbersome for players (we’re planning to make opt-ins easier and baked in to the registration flow). A few partners felt that text messages are more intrusive than push notifications and are concerned that they might turn off their members with SMS for marketing/promotion.

In preparation for our upcoming mobile backend update, we were curious to learn which use-cases are most important for our partners to do from their mobile admin console. It seems that score-entering is a big use case — partners would love to enter scores on mobile and have the scores update their standings.

Privacy

We found some interesting takeaways regarding our partners’ privacy needs and concerns. Overall, admin features and control over their staff’ admin access was a high priority. Better admin tools (especially for lower-level admins) was requested by multiple partners. Our partners also want their admin roles to be customizable – since each organization has its own rules and staff structure. Additionally, we learned that organizations prefer to hide financial information from most admin levels since most admins just need to send emails and enter scores.

As for public site privacy, our partners are concerned with competitors messaging their players and accessing their members’ information. We plan to add a privacy setting that restrict players from being able to message each other, unless they are teammates.

At the end of the meeting, each person listed his/her top item or issue that had not been discussed yet. These items made the cut (Many of these feedback points are already listed on our Forums page but it was good to hear them again).

 

Other Key Product Feedback Points

  • Admin efficiency is crucial
    • There should be a calendar to mark dates in Registration Options (instead of counting back from reg. start date)
    • Reminders and dashboard views to make sure league registrations are open or about to close.
    • Other reminders (e.g. post/announce schedule)
  • Need solution for T-shirt reporting and shirt-ordering process
  • New Registration Capabilities that would be helpful:
    • Ability to register for multiple programs
    • Ability to register past teams
  • Image Uploader: Hard to search, find or delete images. Would be great if the image uploader were more user-friendly.
  • Updates to standings tie breaker rules
    • Customize rules per program
    • Include additional tiebreakers, such as Strength of schedule
  • Program Discover
    • Show league page for leagues that are not open for registration, but as a place-holder that shows up in the league listings page.
  • Ref/Ump scheduling
    • Arbiter Sports: Tool for ref assigning
    • Want ability to assign non-players (i.e. staff roles) and make sure they get game notifications

 

Our first Advisory Board meeting was exciting and successful do to the MVP performance of our board members. We’re excited to hold more virtual AND in-person meetings with the group in the future. We’re also looking forward to diving into these product discussions further and working to ensure some of these ideas and suggestions come to fruition!

Next Steps

Please let us know if you are interested to learn more about the Advisory Board. We’d like to plan more Advisory Boards for other partner segments (e.g. youth, club teams, etc.). Between Advisory Board meetings, Partner Days, and Facebook Groups we now have a few different forums to collaborate with our partners. Please let us know if you’d like to participate or be involved in some capacity.

Advisory Board VIP Message

We also shared a special video message with the group. 3-time Super Bowl Champ Willie McGinest personally paid tribute to each of our board members and wished the first LeagueApps Advisory Board godspeed!

As Willie says…Play Forever.

LeagueApps + Hackathon = LeagueAppathon

Best Practices, Company News, LeagueApps Team, Tech Specs, Value of LeagueApps

This summer the LeagueApps team held a Hackathon as part of our annual all team meetings in New York City. A traditional hackathon involves computer programmers staying up all night and writing code. At LeagueApps we have a diverse team including engineers, graphic designers, project managers, business analysts, customer service, sales and business development team members. We put together an event that utilized everyone’s skills and dubbed it LeagueAppathon. We stayed up late and worked together as a team to create a new calendar feature to add to our suite of league and sports management tools.

It was awesome to add a new feature the product, but it was just as important to have fun and learned from each other. We had a film crew on site to document the activities for the night. You can check out the action on how it all went down – and get a sneak peak at how our team works (and plays.)

If you are interested in joining the LeagueApps team we are always looking for hard working team players to join our squad.

Special thanks to our Brooklyn based film crew – Dakoit Pictures – for documenting the event.

Press Release: USA Field Hockey Partners with LeagueApps

Company News, Press, Release Notes

LeagueApps is thrilled to announce its newest partnership with USA Field Hockey. As the official digital partner of USA Field Hockey Clubs, LeagueApps will fulfill all club-management needs pertaining to player registration, communication, payment collection, merchandise orders, and more.

The LeagueApps platform enables any club within USA Field Hockey to easily build a new website and/or implement online registration:

As part of the agreement, all USAFH club affiliates will receive a discounted transaction rate and launch fee, plus complimentary text messaging for the first year.

Several clubs are already taking advantage of the LeagueApps solution, including Mystx Field Hockey, Spark Field Hockey, Maine Majestix, Coastal Clash, East End FHC, and many more.

“LeagueApps is a wonderful tool to help with online registration for club teams, leagues, camps, clinics and tournaments. As someone who previously did this all by hand, the amount of hours that it saves is worth it alone, not to mention the ease and automation of having everything done online. The bookkeeping function is easy to use and helps with the monotonous process of checking and balancing your finances. I would highly recommend LeagueApps to anyone running a sports club- this company is definitely an MVP in my book!”

-Carol Pohlmeyer, Spark Field Hockey

Thank you to USA Field Hockey Clubs for choosing LeagueApps as your official club management solution!

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