StubHub’s Journey into the Experience Economy: A Conversation with CMO, Jennifer Betka

mobile ventures summitThe Background

For years, StubHub was defined as a one-dimensional ticketing platform, offering a simple transaction, most-well known among male sports fans, almost exclusively in the United States. Jennifer Betka joined the company in October 2015 as their new Chief Marketing Officer. Within six months, her team transformed StubHub’s brand identity. The identity reflects a new company vision to not only connect StubHub users and the industry at large in a more evocative and meaningful way, but to a broader, more global audience.

I had the pleasure to sit down with Jennifer, at the Mobile Ventures Summit on Thursday, February 16th. We discussed how they’ve moved from a transactional brand to something more engaging a discovery platform for experiences.

Here are key takeaways from our conversation.

StubHub Is Evolving  & Engaging With New Audiences

Jennifer drove StubHub’s new brand identity – with a more modern logo, dynamic imagery, vibrant color palette and ability to convey the emotion inherent in live experiences. The new branding gave them an opportunity to be clear about their purpose – to connect people through live experiences. This in turn, appeals to a wider, global audience across more event types, and in more cities around the world.

With this new branding and integrated campaign, StubHub has already broadened its audience across a variety of genres. The success is reflected in recent customer metrics showing that StubHub is broadening and engaging more female customers than new male customers. And for the first time in the company’s history, more new customers purchased tickets in the music genre versus the sports genre. This transformation illustrates StubHub’s commitment to providing a more personalized experience to users, and fully transition into an end-to-end platform for fans.

Today, StubHub’s brand is rooted in the company’s evolving approach to live events, with a focus on enriching lives within today’s “experience economy,” where people are placing an increasingly higher value on live experiences, and experiences shared.

StubHub’s Mobile App Plays a Critical Role

Today’s consumers expect anytime/anywhere access to the events and experiences they want to attend — and mobile is a key driver. StubHub has established an industry-leading presence across nearly every screen that matters, especially on mobile.

For Stubhub, their mobile app is the best platform to showcase and expose users to new experiences. It enables them to fuse the brand with technology and create more personalized content. Through mobile, StubHub connects customers to the world’s largest catalog of live events, both in locations where they live, and in places where they want to go. By introducing various mobile payment options like Apple Pay and Visa Checkout, StubHub has provided fans with a swift, seamless, and secure experience for customers.

In fact, ⅓ of StubHub Super Bowl tickets were transacted on mobile devices. This is a 140 percent increase from the prior year, indicating the increasing value that mobile plays in the fan journey.

However, StubHub doesn’t want the app to only be something people use when they need to purchase tickets. They want it to be a discovery platform for users. To do this, they’ve created exclusive, engaging content to draw fans back to the app to discover new experiences beyond just live events. The app is intended to be a destination to find everything a fan needs for a fully immersive experience, from the actual live event to nearby restaurants, hotels, and even transportation.

As this transformation has occurred on the mobile app, it’s clear that users see the benefit. StubHub’s average app store rating is 4.5 stars with reviews from 8,560 users. This organic loyalty is something they’re very proud of and continue striving to improve.

It is also smart business. We have learned that 96% of users say they would install an app with four stars. Every extra star that apps garner in the App Store increases the chances of download.

StubHub Uses Data Insights to Better Engage With Users

Jennifer and her team understand the best way to create meaningful engagement is through context. They’re making a conscience effort to be smart in how they communicate with users and personalize experiences based on what they know about them.

They are proactively gaining insight into their users through different engagement strategies. For example, after a user purchases basketball tickets, they might follow up asking why they aren’t also interested in buying concert tickets to a show at the same venue. This kind of feedback enables them to customize experiences and provide improved context when engaging users.

As many mobile marketers know, context and personalization aren’t the only factors that create meaningful engagement, timing is just as critical. Leanplum published in our data science report, “Breaking Barriers to Push Notification Engagement” that 63 percent of marketers are sending push notifications at the wrong time. Stubhub understands the importance of when to send communication to their users and uses data to support these strategies.

A recent example of this was the Grammy Awards. During the Grammy’s, StubHub competitors sent emails and push notifications encouraging users to purchase tickets to concerts of the show’s performers. This opened conversations with Stubhub’s leaders wondering about the optimal time to send Grammy communications. Of course, Jennifer had the data informing marketing’s decision to wait until Monday to send out communications. They understood that people are more inclined to purchase tickets the day after the show, rather than during or immediately after. I, for one, appreciate not being interrupted during a performance by Beyonce or Lady Gaga.

Looking forward, Jennifer is excited about Stubhub’s future. In 2017, they will continue to showcase who they are and what they stand for creatively. They will also lean into the intelligent technology that is connecting it all for business, consumers, partners, and artists across all devices. The experiences delivered will continue to evolve.

One day soon, we won’t buy tickets for a seat at an event — but instead, a vantage point from a drone camera. The sky’s the limit for StubHub, and we’re thrilled to see their vision come to life.  

Leanplum is building the marketing cloud for the mobile era. Our integrated solution delivers meaningful engagement across messaging and the in-app experience. We work with top brands such as Tinder, Tesco, and Lyft. Schedule your personalized demo here.