Heracles Almelo is a Dutch professional football club based in Almelo. Formed in 1903, Heracles currently competes in the Netherlands' second tier and is battling for a return to the highest Dutch league, 'De Eredivisie'. The home stadium holds 12,080 fans at capacity, including 500 visiting fan seats, and 1,700 business seats.
Heracles Almelo (partnering with Adwise) has been using MessageBird to develop interactive marketing campaigns since the summer of 2022 and has rapidly expanded their use of the platform to launch new channels, build their fan database and increase engagement using WhatsApp, Voice and automation.
Heracles Almelo was looking for new ways to engage with fans to drive sales of both seasonal and individual game tickets. The club traditionally used email and social media to reach fans, but in order to generate more excitement they wanted to talk to new and existing fans on more channels. With the entire fan experience shifting to mobile, it was important to them to update their customer database with more information about preferred conversational and personal channels like WhatsApp and Voice.
Heracles Almelo ultimate goal was to increase engagement with customers over multiple channels to drive ticket sales. They faced a few key challenges in reaching this goal:
- Low opt-ins: While opt-in rates for email were good, in order to reach fans on new conversational channels, Heracles needed to build their database of opted-in fans.
- Number of channels to leverage: Seasonal ticket renewals were critical to Heracles and they wanted to expand their channels beyond email. Heracles' goal was to convert at least the existing 6,400 fans into season ticket holders by using an omnichannel strategy.
- Improving channel preference data: Heracles knew there was potential to reach their fans on new channels, but had limited data to tell them what channels would perform best with their audience.
Heracles partnered with Adwise, a full-service digital agency, who recommended MessageBird, a global leader in omnichannel communications, to craft the vision for fan engagement and multichannel campaigns. MessageBird and Adwise recommended that Heracles use WhatsApp and Suara for fan engagement campaigns to deliver hyper-personalized and engaging messages from players on conversational channels that have high usage and open rates with Heracles’ fan base.
Automating voice calls with player voices
Heracles used MessageBird’s Suara channel and built customer engagement journeys using Flowbuilder, to send supporters an automated telephone call from one of their favorite Heracles football players thanking them for their season ticket renewal and support. MessageBird’s Voice API allowed Heracles to make, receive, and monitor voice calls from a MessageBird voice-enabled virtual mobile number, to and from any country around the world. Using MessageBird’s voice automation meant that the club no longer had to manually call customers, instead they could spend time optimizing their campaigns and tracking engagement.
Sharing interactive and personalized fan content over WhatsApp
It was important for Heracles to reach fans on the highest performing channels. On average, WhatsApp has a 75% read rate and 15% click-through rate - which meant that Heracles could increase real-time fan engagement by communicating on the platform their fans use most. MessageBird’s API WhatsApp helped Heracles send campaigns at scale with interactive content like personalized messages and videos from players. Fans were encouraged to forward the message to their friends on WhatsApp, which helped the campaign go viral beyond the initial target audience.
Increase Fan Engagement
Heracles wanted to create social buzz with their messaging, and while they had a sound email open rate (+10% above the industry average), it wasn’t generating real-time excitement among their fan base. Using conversational channels like WhatsApp and Suara meant the club could be more effective at reaching fans, creating buzz and getting fans to opt-in through marketing that felt more personal. Using the voice of players made the campaign personal and interactive which created hype that spread across social media as fans commented ‘who called you?’ These replies helped the club better understand the engagement of the campaign and interest in real-time.
The close collaboration between Heracles Almelo, Adwise and MessageBird enabled the club to quickly and easily build campaigns that converted fans across channels. Launching WhatsApp and Voice as additional fan communication channels helped Heracles’ increase fanbase reach, opt-in coverage, and engage with a larger audience. Using WhatsApp and adding interactive content like videos and personalized messaging from players encouraged fans to engage more with the brand, which led to an increase in fans renewing their season tickets or upgrading their seats. Heracles is now trending towards an all-time high for season ticket sales.
- Over 3,000 new opt-ins. Combining social, email, and WhatsApp to drive opt-ins meant Heracles could increase their database with rich first-party data which went beyond email - giving the team the ability to message on mobile channels like WhatsApp and Voice.
- 98% open rate on WhatsApp Connecting with users on their preferred channels meant an increased ROI from each campaign.
- +50% of fans answered the automated player calls. Fans loved hearing from players and excitement over player calls carried over into more engagement on WhatsApp and social media.
To learn more about what's possible with MessageBird, and to see how we’ve helped other organizations, check out our customer stories page.