opinion | Why conversational AI is the future of fan activation

In the past two years, our world has become more digital, and conversational artificial intelligence (AI) has fueled the development of “live” interactions between smart devices and people. Humans are fully connected and this new connection made with the help of AI is now the new normal.

The fan experience has also become more digital. Sports brands are fully active in Metaverses, building relationships with communities through conversational marketing.

Conversational AI for more effective and personalized communication

Conversational AI is a term that describes technologies behind automated messaging and voice-driven applications that enable human-like interactions between bots and humans. Conversational AI can replace human communication by recognizing speech and text, understanding intent, distinguishing languages, and responding in ways that mimic human conversation. Therefore, it builds connections between brands and their customers and fans.

In the last two years, chatbots have gained popularity through the use of so-called conversational commerce and conversational marketing. Powered by deep learning, conversational solutions are now integrated into various chat tools (e.g. Apple Business Chat, Facebook Messenger, Viber, WhatsApp and web chat) that allow users to instantly access relevant information through simple messaging.

Conversational commerce has opened up new channels for customers to interact with brands at all stages of their journey. As the number of customer interactions from different messaging apps continues to increase, innovative companies are looking for ways to efficiently handle large volumes of messaging conversations while delivering a great customer experience. Therefore, many leverage advanced conversational AI platforms like Liveperson’s partner 2Mobile to offer end-to-end orchestration of brand-to-consumer conversations and deliver the best experience.

Conversational Commerce and Conversational AI can strengthen your relationships with customers and fans, create stronger bonds and thus have a positive impact on your brand.

Conversational AI in sports marketing

Conversational marketing is now completely changing our experience in esports – from watching a game in the comfort of our own home and discovering facts about our team or keeping records of the latest match scores, to buying tickets to the next live event and buying Club articles online shops. At live events, the fan experience will be fully digital, with technology enabling contactless purchases and in-seat food and beverage delivery, chats with members of the team and live notifications for club news.

The best conversational AI provides a result indistinguishable from what humans could provide. In addition, it offers fast, personalized communication with the addition of payment services integrated through chat tools with the use of a chatbot.

Think of the last time you were at a game and stood in line at half time waiting for your beer to be served. Now imagine ordering a beer from the comfort of your seat in the arena and paying for it with two clicks in a messaging app and a simple scan of a QR code.

All of this can be delivered with less effort than if done by a human. This is conversational AI at its finest and something we at 2Mobile have made possible in partnership with Mastercard.

The global payments company was the first brand to recognize the potential and benefits of conversational AI and sports chatbots, so it used them to activate their brand in sports marketing using messaging apps. In order to develop a unique communication platform, a partnership was formed between Mastercard and 2Mobile, the developer of the platform, which is based on LivePerson’s conversational technology.

In 2021, as restrictions and measures in the physical world due to Covid-19 fueled the emergence of the low-touch economy and cashless payments, Mastercard decided to launch an innovative service that would allow customers to order food and beverages from the comfort of their seat can order at sporting events.

Mastercard Slovenia, in cooperation with 2Mobile, developed innovative sports chatbots for the football clubs Bravo and Maribor and the handball club Celje and started the development of a new business model in sports marketing.

Ticket purchase, food and drink ordering and sponsorship activations

The innovative Sportbot solution, powered by LivePerson’s conversational AI, enables customers to order and pay for services on a single platform. It is currently used in two Slovenian football stadiums and a sports arena. Chatbots are available to users on three different chat platforms: Apple Business Chat, Facebook Messenger, and Viber.

Sports clubs are using chat to encourage fans to buy tickets online and order food and drink from their seats, while encouraging contactless payments to reduce queues during matches. Personalized communication with fans promotes chatbots as friends that help them realize their purchase intent.

Chatbots also allow fans to keep up with the latest news during the game, chat with other fans, follow events, discover team rosters and buy tickets or merchandise online from the fan shop. Additionally, Conversational AI allows clubs to proactively engage with users by sending push messages to those who have opted in to receive notifications.

Push messages also serve as a great channel for various sponsorship activations. Conversational marketing is a new communication channel that offers extensive opportunities for sponsorship branding and direct communication with fans through things like messaging, QR codes, coupons and sweepstakes.

2Mobile’s Sportbot solution, powered by LivePerson’s conversational AI, enables customers to order and pay for services on a single platform.

From the first interactions to building a relationship and loyalty

Now more than ever, it’s important to engage with fans in the moments that matter to them and in the ways that matter to them. Because of this, experiences and transactions are becoming more conversational.

The responsiveness of bots is an asset when it comes to prospecting through chat experiences powered by sports clubs. In a fully connected world where interactions with sports fans have gone digital, meaningful interactions powered by Conversational AI are shaping the fan experience and strengthening a sense of belonging to the online sports community.

For example, Mastercard recently created a great sponsorship activation during a soccer final. They connected taxi services to their conversation platform and proactively offered free taxi rides to any fans who consumed alcohol during the game. This was communicated via short messages via chat and fans were able to order a taxi with the help of a chatbot. Last but not least, the cost of this taxi service has been fully covered since it is sponsored by Mastercard.

It’s just one of the ways conversational experiences in sports marketing can help achieve better brand exposure and improve fan engagement, with personalized and direct communications that cater to fans’ needs. The Mastercard case was recognized as outstanding and won several awards for its creativity and effectiveness.

Final Thoughts

Conversational Commerce and Conversational AI can strengthen your relationships with customers and fans, create stronger bonds and thus have a positive impact on your brand. It can increase your sponsorship activations and thus create new revenue streams.

Consequently, investing in conversational marketing and conversational experiences represents the future of sports marketing and fan activation. Are you ready for the next level?

About Katie Curtis

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