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StubHub’s Goal is to Score with Fans, Says CMO Ray Elias

Whether you’re a “social fan” actively networking, a “fanatic” attending every game, or a “premium fan” perched in front-row seats, StubHub serves the preferences of all three segments, said CMO Ray Elias. He spoke at The Incite Summit in New York on Wednesday about the brand’s customer service, social media and mobile efforts.

“Tickets are scarce, perishable goods, and StubHub manages the secondary ticket marketplace. We focus on the buyer and seller experience and the intersection of supply and demand”, Elias said. The market has evolved, and he identified key elements behind StubHub’s success.

Customer Service: Fans of entertainment and sports events didn’t used to receive the red carpet treatment. “We recognized the frustrations consumers were experiencing with ticket purchases”, Elias explained. “Traditionally the process wasn’t fan-friendly, so we applied the customer service models you’d find with Nordstrom and Zappos.”

A core issue StubHub regularly deals with relates to the authenticity of tickets. Elias said they need to deliver on the proposition that “our tickets are real and the fans will be able to get in”. He acknowledged that’s not so easy to convey from a marketing perspective. (Although he didn’t discuss their “Ticket Oakad campaign, it offers a reassuring presence, and according to a Forbes article, the ads have improved key brand perceptions).

Customer service plays a critical role in delivering on the brand’s promise, and Elias described StubHub’s service as ‘heroic’. “We have local reps on the ground, and ‘Make it Right’ customer service” to resolve on-site issues. “We’ve empowered fans, and that has fueled our growth.”

Social Media: “We’re on all the channels and we’re in an inherently social space, so we don’t have to force conversations with fans”, Elias noted. “Attending events used to take lots of advance planning, and that became an opportunity. We created a simple environment for fans to discover events. Our catalogue breadth is an advantage, and friend recommendations are important in social commerce”. He noted that other competitors have adopted their model.

Mobile: “We now deliver an end-to-end digital experience. More fans buy tickets now at the last minute, so we send tickets via mobile phones”, Elias said. “Our new GoTogether product lets fans jointly decide on events, seating and payment. That’s where the industry is headed.”

Fan Rewards: A key goal is for customers to become StubHub fans, Elias said. “We launched Fan Rewards to reward customers through loyalty and special access to events. That might include sitting in the StubHub suite at L.A.’s Staples Center or running on the field with the team.”

Rich Content: “Ultimately on StubHub people will browse rich content for planning purposes. That will be how they discover upcoming events. We use real-time data to present fans with event recommendations, similar to Amazon.com,” Elias said. StubHub also partners with ESPN and appears on their schedule page. He believes the integration with entertainment and sports media represents a good way to serve fans the content they’re looking for.

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