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A national obsession

The Welsh Rugby Union (WRU) is the governing body for rugby union in Wales. Founded in 1875, the WRU are responsible for the Welsh National teams at all age groups, the National League and Cups, and supports the Welsh rugby regions with centralised contracts and infrastructure. While leading the men’s and women’s rugby in Wales, the WRU are also the proud owners of the Principality Stadium – the world renowned 74,000-seater venue in the heart of Cardiff – and a central part of Welsh culture.

With the WRU and the game in Wales directly and indirectly benefitting from ticket sales, maximising matchday revenues is key to sustained growth. Consequently, both the WRU and Principality Stadium websites heavily promote ticket purchasing, and use a third-party e-ticketing platform to process sales.

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Tackling the ticketing gap

While high-profile international matches do not struggle to reach capacity – England and New Zealand are big draws, for example there is often as much as 20% capacity available at most games up to kick-off for international, with other regional events such as Judgement Day also rarely reaching full capacity.

Spread across journeys from both websites into the Ticketmaster system, the WRU believed that the current process was resulting in a lack of clarity for customers, as well as a lack of conversion optimisation to ensure that they were maximising ticket sales. As Discovery experts, Spindogs were engaged by the WRU to investigate and audit their ticket purchasing process, making recommendations to not only improve conversion and ticket sales, but also to improve the user experience and increase customer satisfaction.

Intended as a business case for change – with other nations use the same e-ticketing provider – the WRU took a lead role on behalf of the other 6 Nations members to define clear and actionable improvements which could be implemented across all 6 nations in one hit.

Applying a holistic approach to a singular journey

Although more focused in remit than the majority of our Discovery projects, we nevertheless still needed to take advantage of the full range of analysis experts, tools and tactics at our disposal to understand the purchase journeys and identify areas of concern and opportunities for improvement.

It was important to approach the task holistically – this was not simply a design and layout CRO challenge – and consider both on-site and off-site factors, review content and messaging, engage with target audiences and assess the underlying technology to build a richer picture and inform more considered recommendations.

Let data tell the story

We’re strong advocates of using data and analytics to uncover insight and inform decision-making, and with the WRU providing a very focused challenge it was important to paint a picture of the ticketing journey through data before applying best-practice human analysis. Using a combination of Google Search Console, Google Analytics and Mouseflow – a UI heatmapping and clickmapping tool – we identified some unexpected opportunities as well as confirming some of our assumptions.  

Unsurprisingly, mobile users were predominant – with nearly 60% of users entering the sites via mobile – and we were already prepared to address the mobile experience when reviewing the UX. We also, similarly unsurprisingly identified that ticket focused searches dramatically increase in the month of the game, and we were similarly minded to recommend an escalation of PPC activity to ensure visibility at key times.

Why search engines are the first step on the UX journey

What we were not anticipating, however, was the point of entry for most searches was a non-conversion focused page. For example, a search result for ‘Wales v Ireland tickets’ would take a user to an information page about the fixture (team news, history etc.), rather than a page focused on purchasing a ticket or understanding ticket options. Similarly, we identified that the upcoming fixtures page received a high volume of traffic, but with no CTA for ticket sales against each fixture.

An excellent example of how the UX journey begins offsite, this crucial observation could have easily been overlooked if reviewing the website navigation in isolation. As a result, we were able to recommend focused landing pages for ticket sales that were better designed for conversion and a redirection of search optimisation activity to ensure relevant visibility in search engines.

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Challenging data with real-world interaction testing

With our analytics analysis immediately pointing toward opportunities for improvement it was essential to validate some of our more subjective observations through a detailed best practice UX audit, and more importantly, through interactive user testing.

Gathering a testing team drawn from a wide range of demographics, each within the WRU’s target audiences, we set a series of interactive test journeys (e.g. purchase a ticket for X match for an adult and child), recorded and challenged their responses, collating the common threads together.

Reinforcing strengths through user testing

Thankfully, the experience confirmed many of our conclusions regarding the challenges some users were facing, and also reinforced some of the strengths of the WRU site and ticketing journey.

It’s often easy to focus on the negative when assessing a user journey or a website as a whole, but where possible it’s worth providing reassurance that the remedial tasks are not overwhelming, and that in actuality, with a few small changes you can make a big difference. Our user testers were very complementary of the layout on the WRU sites and found them very engaging.

It’s third-party and I’ll cry if I want to

One of the key challenges with the ticketing journey was the WRU’s reliance on Ticketmaster’s e-ticketing portal to not only process, but promote match tickets. With many landing pages within the e-ticketing system (particularly for PPC activity) it made the visual experience jarring, and the layout and navigation often confusing.

Key friction points on the journey such as enacting a sign-up before being able to browse ticketing options, the addition of unnecessary additional steps on landing pages and accidental engagement with navigation items were all identified with heatmapping and clickmapping, and subsequently confirmed through user testing

Not the best seats in the house

However, the biggest opportunity for growth was the ‘Choose a seat’ tool, and we were able to track and map hundreds of journeys and see it was having an impact on conversions. The map-reliant interface makes seat selection difficult on a mobile (remember the site usage is nearly 60% mobile), and a huge amount of clicking back and forth to find available seats made the experience more difficult than it needed to be.

Our suggestions included a filterable process where tickets could be identified prior to entering a map view and some visual/UI improvements for mobile users, and further visual cues during the checkout process to reinforce purchasing decisions.

Leading the 6 Nations (and more)

Following our presentation of the report, WRU enacted a series of changes to their website which resulted in improved user experience, a clearer user journey, and better search optimisation.

Crucially, however, Ticketmaster have since updated their e-ticketing system to address the pain points identified during the process, ensuring that not only will the WRU benefit from increased ticket sales, but the rest of the 6 Nations and other events beyond will benefit from a greatly improved user experience as well.

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