Real Salt Lake Builds Fan Engagement and Loyalty with Podium

SMS campaigns in 6 months
higher open rates with SMS vs. e-mail
SMS campaign click rate
SMS marketing subscribers in 6 months
< 3 minutes
average response time

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About Real Salt Lake

After their first game in 2005, Real Salt Lake (RSL)—an American professional soccer franchise, based in Salt Lake City, Utah—quickly became a household name, getting involved in the community and winning the hearts of local fans. The RSL team is focused on community involvement and always on the lookout for new opportunities to serve. The team often sends players to schools to motivate students and even into grocery stores to surprise shoppers with free groceries. “It’s great to know that we’re making an impact more than just playing games here at the stadium,” said Brady Ulloa, a Business Intelligence Manager at RSL. “We are out in the community and people know that Real Salt Lake is an organization that helps the community.”

Responsible for managing data, technology platforms, and moving the organization forward through digital transformation opportunities in marketing and sales, Brady started as a Fan Relations Representative for the RSL team. In his original role, Brady used Podium to send texts to season ticket holders. “I got familiar with Podium, but as my role developed, I saw that there was a lot more to Podium that we could use,” said Brady. 

In his new role, Brady was tasked with solving a few challenges for the organization, such as creating easy and convenient ways to connect with customers and fans, routing messages internally, and boosting fan engagement with promotions. Podium offered the right solution. 


The Challenge

Before Podium, Real Salt Lake struggled to streamline communication with fans and customers through email and on the website. Email open rates were low and frustration was high when fans visited the website without a clear process to connect with RSL staff. 

Email wasn’t providing the right results. With an email database of 60,000 people and open rates around 8%, the team wasn’t getting the results they wanted. “The results didn’t show how many people are actually engaged in our product. They showed how little people are engaged with email,” said Brady.

No clear way to connect with a Real Salt Lake rep on the website. It was difficult for website visitors to easily contact someone at the RSL organization. The team wanted to remove barriers and create an easy way to start a conversation, directly from the website. 

No convenient way to communicate with fans and customers. Each of the 7 departments within the organization—RSL, Real Monarchs, the team store, ticketing, premium tickets, fan relations, etc.—needed to connect with fans, attendees, and the local community. “Email wasn’t getting through to people,” said Brady. The team needed a dedicated communication channel for each department. 


The Podium Solution

With Podium, the RSL team has found incredible success and increased convenience with customer communications. Texting and Webchat create personalized customer conversations that are easy to start and easy to route to the right person internally. More specifically, RSL uses Podium to deliver: 

A better way to connect with fans—texting. “Everyone’s on their phone, why are we not texting people more?” said Brady. With Podium Campaigns, they were able to do just that. RSL uses text campaigns to send match day notifications, promote ticket and merchandise sales, and build their brand by showcasing community events and team updates–all leading to a more personalized experience for fans and increased fan engagement.

A faster way to connect with fans and improve lead generation. With Podium Webchat added to the website, the team can now better service customers with quick responses and easy answers to questions. “It’s super convenient that Webchat just pops up. That’s how we get a lot of traffic—people asking simple questions,” said Brady.

A more direct way to connect customers to the right department. With the addition of texting and a centralized inbox for all customer communication, the RSL team has created a single input for customer contact that can be easily (and automatically) routed to the right person internally. “To be able to have one number that I can text directly to RSL and get answers to any questions, that’s the biggest benefit,” explained Brady.

Each department can now connect with customers conveniently while elevating the brand as a modern, cutting edge business that is easy to work with and understands how fans like to communicate. 


Results and ROI

In just one year of partnering with Podium, RSL has enjoyed results like:

→ Reduced average response time to <3 minutes for more than 5,000 conversations
With more than 5,000 Webchat leads on the website, the RSL team has lowered their average response time to under 3 minutes. Podium Webchat helps the team provide a timely response to both new and returning visitors that need to quickly reach out and ask a question.

→ Collected 4,114 text campaign subscribers in just 7 months

The RSL team started collecting text opt-ins to grow their text database after they implemented Podium. And the list grew to more than 4,000 customers in just 7 months! 

→ Connected with customers in over 9,000 conversations in just 12 months

Combining both text conversations and Webchat messages, the RSL team has managed over 9,000 conversations in just 1 year. And those messages are providing real insights into what customers want to see in the future. “I’m excited to start seeing who clicked a link, for example on a season ticket promotion, and then be able to target those people with more season ticket deals,” said Brady.

→ Sent over 40 campaigns in 6 months with click rates as high as 30%

Even though their text subscriber database is smaller than their email database, the team is seeing incredible engagement. “We’re routinely getting 12 – 15% click rates,” said Brady. “And everyone sees the texts.” In just 6 months the team sent over 40 text campaigns and click rates on some campaigns were as high as 30%.

“The connection that Podium helps facilitate—that relationship between us and the fans–is the biggest driver of the success we’ve seen.”

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