5 Keys to Engaging Fans and Driving Revenue with Web Chat

Using web chat for your sports or entertainment organization is easier than you think. Learn how to use web chat to engage fans, gather insights and drive revenue.

Good ol’ web chat. We all love it when we need an immediate answer—hate it when our boss says to implement it because they read a blog about it. When it comes to implementing web chat for your own fans, it can seem like a daunting chore at best. Many people incorrectly assume that web chat is only for tech support or B2B lead generation when in reality it’s much more than that. Implementing web chat for your sports or entertainment organization can be a great way to engage fans, drive revenue and gain valuable insight into what fans really like (and at Umbel, we love that). So, how can you implement web chat as a marketing tool when your team is already overburdened, overworked and short on time? It starts with these 5 steps:

1. Picking the right tool.

There are a lot of tools out there, but for this walk-through we’ll reference Drift since we use it here at Umbel. It’s affordable, easy to implement and offers powerful automation for marketers who don’t have all day to spend chatting. Is our chat experience perfect? Far from it. But we constantly analyze and improve the chat experience as we gather valuable leads and insights about what teams want from Umbel.


2. Mapping out use cases and defining a marketing goal

As I mentioned above, there are a variety of reasons a company might implement chat on their website. Tech support, lead generation, e-commerce assistance–the list goes on and on. As marketers, it’s important to prioritize what outcome you want web chat to drive. If you go in with a tech support mentality and then evaluate success with marketing metrics, the project is doomed to be a bigger waste of time than the last meeting you were forced to sit through. If your goal is to help drive conversions, revenue, and marketing efficiency then establish that up front before you start configuring your web chat experience.

3. Using data to enhance the experience

It wouldn’t be an Umbel blog post if we didn’t tell you how data and fan insights can make your web chat experience shine. Just as we help teams precisely target fans with data about their fans’ interests, demographics and ticketing history, we believe data can help improve your chat experience as well. There are different ways to leverage data in web chat:

A. Use data you already know about the fan to customize their chat experience

If you use Umbel, you probably already know your fans’ favorite athletes, brands, beverages and ticket buying history. If you don’t, you likely still have useful data about the fans in your database. Maybe you know their geographic location, the last ticket they bought or their gender. Using special links you can customize the chat experience for different groups of fans. Simply segment your audience using your favorite email tool, and then send different links to each group.

fan preferences for web chat

Let’s say you used Umbel to find a group of fans that make over $100,000 each year, bought a ticket last year, love your top player Kevin, and haven’t bought a ticket to the upcoming home game. Once you send that segment into Eloqua, Mailchimp or your favorite marketing automation tool you’re ready to target them. Craft an email that links to a landing page and put a query string in the link. For example, yourwebsite.com/?utm_campaign=webchat100k.

You should already be adding parameters like this to send valuabe information to Google Analytics and other analytics platforms, but now you can also use the same parameters to customize chat messages. When the fan clicks through the email and comes to your landing page you can automatically greet them with a message that incorporates what you know about them. Drift will look for the phrase webchat100k and trigger the conversation you customized for that campaign. Now does that mean you start off saying “Hey there, I noticed you make over $100,000 a year. Would you like to buy a ticket?” Probably not (if you test it, let us know, though). But since you know this fan loves your top player Kevin and can afford decent seats, you might have your chat tool automatically greet them with a message about a premium seat coupon and point out the great view they will have of Kevin making amazing plays. That certainly beats a generic “How can I help you?” message that the fan will likely ignore.

So to recap, segment your audience, create unique links, and then use parameters in those links to tell tools like Drift what message to send the fan when they reach your website. Even if you only know something basic about the fan, you can still use that data to enhance the chat experience.

B. Collect data during the conversation and immediately put that data to work

Okay, knowing fans are snow birds buying tickets from out of state and have an affinity for your top sponsors’ product is nice, but what if you don’t have Umbel to tell you those things? Maybe you just have a list of emails. Don’t panic. Drift makes it easy to gather information on the fly and use that information in the conversation. Let’s take an example:

data powered web chat

An anonymous fan reaches your website and you know nothing about them. Your chat box waits 10 seconds to appear (because you configured it that way) and then sends the fan a message, “Thanks for checking out tickets for the game this weekend. What kind of seat are you looking to buy?” People don’t like extra work so the chat window gives them 3 buttons to choose from: “upper deck,” “lower deck,” or “I don’t know.” The user doesn’t have to type anything, they simply click an answer. Best of all, you can configure Drift to send a different response based on the answer the user picked. So maybe if the user selects upper deck the tool automatically sends them a link to upper deck tickets, and if they select lower deck it sends your sales team a notification or, if they select “I don’t know,” it sends them another question about their seating preferences like “is a view of the jumbotron important to you?” Drift allows you to configure different automated responses based on words than show up in a fans’ response or based on the buttons they click. This allows you to create a custom chat experience for each fan based on their preferences.

4. Optimize, optimize, caffeine, optimize

Any web chat tool worth its salt should give you analytics and data about how your chat service is performing: how many conversations were started, how many quality leads were generated and what percentage of fans you submitted their email addresses. To maximize revenue and ROI on your web chat project, you need to review these data points consistently and make adjustments accordingly. If you just look at the data and never take any action on it you are leaving money on the table. Look for themes in what fans are asking for and use those insights to improve the experience.

5. Automate as much as possible

Whether it’s building a campaign, constructing a landing page, mapping out an email program, creating compelling fan offers, preparing decks for sponsors, driving ticket sales, or writing recap reports so your boss knows why you look so tired all the time, you have a lot to do. Chances are you don’t have an extra three hours each day that you can spending chatting online. Besides, you’d probably prefer to use those three hours honing your minesweeper skills or carefully analyzing which Netflix show really deserves your attention next. Maintain your sanity and automate everything you can. With Drift you can set up a chat bot to send messages to fans, and then send custom responses based on their answers. As you study the responses sent over chat you can use that data to keep making your chat bot smarter and smarter. Other automations for Drift include the ability to send leads to your CRM, send chat notifications to Slack and even directly respond to chat messages from within your own company Slack instance.

So that sounds like a lot of great best practices but you only read this blog so you could get an actionable list of next steps to take. Well, here they are:

1. Buy a web chat tool or service such as Drift.

2. Install the chat tool across your entire website. If possible, simplify this by using a tag management solution like Google Tag Manager (free). You are simply adding one script to each page. Then you can configure how the chat window looks, match it to your website theme, etc.

3. Configure your web chat tool to send events to Google Analytics and integrate with Slack. Drift integrates with Zapier so you can connect your chat tool with hundreds of marketing tools. This means you can create cool scenarios where sales teams get notifications when fans mention key phrases in chat, or use one of many other helpful Zapier automations.

4. Define a goal and assign users to your chat account. This can be your marketing team, your sales team or yourself. Pro tip: If you have a sales team with different geographic territories you can automatically route conversations in Drift based on a fans’ geographic location. Make sure the users of the chat tool align with your goal for the chat tool (e.g. don’t use tech support folks if the goal is marketing revenue).

5. Integrate your web chat tool with your CRM or marketing automation platform. When fans engage with chat and leave their email address, you acquire a new lead that can be added to your database for future marketing and sales outreach. Drift can pass the entire chat conversation into the lead record so your Sales team knows what conversations have already taken place with the fan.

6. Create some initial chat logic. Configure a chat bot to ask your visitors questions after they have been on your site for a certain period of time or visited certain pages. Remember to include answer buttons so the fan doesn’t have to type long responses, and customize the conversation based on the answers they choose.

7. Whether you use a solution for fan data like Umbel or not, you want to segment groups of fans by demographics, interests, ticketing data or whatever data you have about them. Create links with unique parameters and include those links in email campaigns, ad campaigns or anywhere else you are providing links to fans. Make sure to configure Drift to send different messages based on the parameters it sees in in the URL.

8. Automate chat routing, responses, follow ups, and notifications to save as much time as possible. If you can, integrate your chat tool with your office chat tool so you can respond directly and not break the workflow of your day by switching tools.

9. Create a coverage plan with other team members or, if you’re doing it alone, get chocolate, coffee and some good music to maintain your sanity. Learn to recognize conversations that are a waste of time and leverage your automated chatbots as much as possible.

10. Use data! Review how campaigns are performing, look for trends and make changes based on the data. Look for every opportunity you can to incorporate more data into your chat experience to make it more relevant to the fan. At Umbel we’ve seen many teams and venues crush their goals simply by taking the insights they gain about their fans and incorporating them into relevant marketing campaigns.

There you have it. Ten actionable steps to get started with chat, start engaging fans, and increase fan revenue. Want more tips on engaging fans and increasing revenue? Check out this guide for 10 ways to increase conversions. Happy chatting!

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