As a marketplace for tickets to live events, SeatGeek has come a long way since its inception just 9 short years ago in 2009. SeatGeek was founded on the idea of using technology and a mobile-first platform to disrupt reselling of tickets for sports, concerts, and theater. From a partnership with the National Football League to being named the next Billion dollar startup by Forbes, they've certainly done a commendable job.

We caught up with Shoji Ueki, Senior Director of Growth Marketing at SeatGeek, who will be speaking at Button's fourth annual TAP conference on October 4th. As he puts it, "We're trying to create an open ticketing ecosystem where fans can buy directly within social media apps, ecommerce websites, and any other place they spend their time online."

Don't miss Shoji at TAP 2018 along with the rest of our amazing lineup. If you use code "TAP-Content50" at checkout, you can score 50% off your ticket!

Q: Research from Criteo has shown mobile app users are the most valuable throughout the entire customer journey— from initial conversion rate to average order value and repeat purchase rate. Does this hold true for SeatGeek? How has SeatGeek prioritized acquiring and engaging mobile app users?

Shoji: Our mobile app users are our most loyal users on average, and we certainly see higher repeat purchase rates among them. And this is something we account for when measuring the lifetime value of our users.

On the other hand, we actually see higher AOVs from our desktop users. Demographics may be a partial explanation: older users tend to both transact more on desktop and have more disposable income. I also think that users still tend to feel more comfortable making really high-end purchases (e.g., super bowl tickets) on desktop. But I'd imagine that both of these effects will diminish over time.

SeatGeek has always been mobile first. We're focused on making it as easy as possible for people to experience live events, and this means making the process of finding events, buying tickets, and entering the venue as frictionless as possible. Mobile is critical part of making this all possible. We actively try to steer our users to our app because we know that this makes it most likely that they'll be long-term active users.

Q: How has personalization and local messaging played a role in SeatGeek's mobile marketing mix? How have you used personalization to enhance the user experience?

Shoji: Personalization is really important to us. We sell tickets to a wide range of events, and we think we have something for everyone. Of course, any given person is likely only interested in a small subset of the live events we have on our platform. So it's really important for us to be able to surface the performers and events that the user is most likely to be interested in.

Personally, I would have attended many more live events in the past if they were easier to discover. But I don't always know when my favorite artist is in town, or when my favorite basketball player is on the court at Madison Square Garden. By surfacing the right events to the right person at the right time, we have an opportunity to not just grow market share, but to also help expand live event attendance broadly.

We use a variety of different signals in an effort to make this easier. Location is an obvious one— if you're in Dallas, events in Seattle probably aren't relevant to you. We also look at what teams, artists and events you've viewed on the SeatGeek app in the past. We allow users to "track" performers, which is a great way to ensure you don't miss out on important updates. We have a Facebook integration. And we allow you to connect your Spotify account, so we can let you know if the artist you're listening to happens to be performing in your city this weekend.

Q: What role do partnerships play in SeatGeek's mobile acquisition and engagement strategy? What channels have you found most effective?

Shoji: Partnerships are huge for SeatGeek. We're trying to create an open ticketing ecosystem where fans can buy directly within social media apps, ecommerce websites, and any other place they spend their time online. Just last month, we announced a partnership with Snapchat where consumers can buy specific live event tickets directly in the Snapchat app. And we've been doing something similar with Facebook since last year.

We also work with a range of other partners, such as news publishers and shopping apps. A big bottleneck is often the technical effort necessary to implement the partnership, particularly when the value of the partnership is still unproven. (Most companies don't have engineering teams the size of Facebook's!) This is where Button's ability to streamline the entire process is a really big help to SeatGeek.

Q: Thinking beyond the ticket purchase, what has SeatGeek done to capitalize on the entire event experience and interact with users before, during, and after an event?

Shoji: SeatGeek started as a pure metasearch engine for tickets, and we'd send users to another website to complete the purchase. Since then, we've made pushes to expand both up and down the funnel.

Starting at the top of the funnel, discovery has been a big focus. I mentioned a lot of our personalization and recommendations features earlier, but there's definitely more we can do here.

We also want the purchase and entry processes to be completely frictionless. Once you find tickets you like, we have a 2 tap checkout process. In a lot of cases, you can have the e-ticket instantly delivered to the SeatGeek app. So you can go from standing outside a venue, deciding you want to attend the game, and being in there in a minute. We believe that this seamless experience will ultimately lead to more people attending live events.

Beyond that, we're actively thinking about how we can add value to other parts of the live event experience.

Q: SeatGeek now has millions of marketplace members buying and selling tickets across thousands of venues. What are the challenges of having a marketplace this size and how does SeatGeek address them?

Shoji: We have a long tail of performers, venues and events on our platform. And these are constantly changing. An artist may have a concert tour onsale without warning, which causes demand for tickets to skyrocket. In tournaments, matchups are determined at the last minute. And, even in the regular season, demand for Yankees tickets fluctuates depending on whether they're playing the Red Sox or the Marlins this week.

The ever-changing nature of the ticketing industry makes ensuring we're fully capturing demand a challenge. This requires utilizing automation and dynamic creatives to ensure our ticket listings and marketing campaigns are always up-to-date. It means ensuring we have a good grasp of how ticket inventory, matchups, weather, etc. will impact demand, and we understand the value of a given user in a changing environment, so our marketing spend is as efficient as possible.

Q: The Fall conference season is approaching, including TAP 2018, which SeatGeek is speaking at. What are you most excited for at TAP?

Shoji: I'm looking forward to being with a ton of bright people in the mobile commerce industry. It's always a great opportunity to catch up with people in the industry and meet a lot of new ones. And it allows me to take a step back, be exposed to new ideas, and learn a ton that I can bring back with me!

We can't wait to see you at TAP 2018!