Improving the UX of ticketing with Twitter Payments

Article by

John Newbold
Design Director & Partner

John Newbold

John Newbold

Design Director & Partner

A couple of weeks back we were halfway through a little hypothetical post on improving the UX of ticketing when Twitter announced they're currently playing around with payments. It's not clear yet if, or how, this will roll out, but we think it nudges a lot of our ideas below a lot nearer;

Improving the ticketing experience using modern mobile technology.

You're unlikely to find many football fans who don’t use a smartphone. With the latest news from BBC Sport & their own clubs, plus the endless banter on Twitter, the Smartphone is the ideal tool for a fan to keep up to date with weekend football. But when it comes to buying tickets, the experience is often stuck in the dark ages.

It’s not just football where the ticketing customer journey sucks; from gigs where you physically queue at a box office, to queueing at home on the phone or desktop, a lot of venues are still using legacy technology and processes to release tickets to fans.

We wanted to think about how the customer experience around ticket purchase could be improved, designing a purchasing journey which takes advantage of today’s smartphone technology and moves the experience to the places where fans are interacting most.

Social ticketing

So, let’s go back to football. Although many clubs have their own apps for news and content, a lot of football conversation happens on social networking sites like twitter. Ticketing as an occasion is inherently social too. You go to social media sites to brag that you just grabbed tickets before anyone else, to organise events with your mates, or just to see what’s on. We were interested in designing a ticketing experience which lived in the places where fans spent the most time on their mobiles - for many people, that place is twitter. How might the user journey look if the transaction could happen there too?

The experiment; a new ticketing user journey

The first step in our new process involves fans installing an app on their devices, thankfully Twitter already makes this process easy. We can run an 'App Install ad' which allows us to promote to relevant users right within Twitter and for them to install the app there too.

In this scenario, we’ll imagine that we’ve promoted the app to a loyal Leicester City fan (yes, they exist). Once our Fan opens the app, we’ll ask them to setup preferences like their favourite seats and price bands, as well as adding their address and card details. By setting up these preferences now, we’re making the process of buying tickets in the future even easier. Imagine a scenario where every week a user pops these same details in to a desktop booking form; here, the action only happens once.

(Of course this app could be built for other platforms such as Windows Phone and Android, but for this experiment we’ll be focusing on iOS only.)

Promoting our available tickets

With our app now installed on our Fans devices, we can start to let them know about upcoming tickets throughout the season. Because we have their details we can regularly serve them a Twitter card advertisement with a hook for our app, enabling them to grab a ticket with just one tap from right within the card.

Many clubs already promote tickets with banners or Google Ads which are targeted against locations instead of audiences. The difference here is that as well as the user journey to purchase being significantly shorter than a typical transaction we can use the data we captured as part of of our app install process to only show ads to users who have our app installed. This targeting is called Custom Audiences and ensures we’re only showing ads to users who are actually interested in our Club and not wasting money on those who aren't.

We know that many of our fans check Twitter and Facebook during Final Score. So it’s an ideal time to sell tickets for next weeks games. Combining Custom Audiences with App Links would allow us to make a ticketing process that's simple and useful.

Our tickets could then be dispatched via traditional box office post or if the stadium had facilities to read e-tickets, then they could be stored in Passbook for iOS.

Making it useful

We think that, for ticketing in particular, this path to purchase is not only shorter but inherently more useful. It uses technology and targeting that’s out there (or nearly there) right now, and enables fans to buy tickets with one-touch, reducing the hassle for fans and clubs alike.

This kind of purchasing experience doesn’t interfere with existing processes or require a massive investment in new infrastructure. Existing ticket fulfilment doesn’t have to change, all that’s required to improve the customer experience is a bit of app development, smart thinking and clever advertising.

Beyond sport, any venue where there's a loyal fan base who repeatedly queue or checkout through traditional means could benefit from an improved customer experience here. A venue such as the O2 could not only improve the experience for fans who regularly see events there, but could also roll out a new system for earlybird tickets (O2 rewards?) or batch queuing through these cards.