How a chatbot is helping the AFL win more fans

New Messenger-based chatbot not only helps answer customer queries, it's bolstering fan engagement


In an era where making things easy for the customer has become paramount, it is not surprising to see many brands turning to chatbots to resolve customer queries quickly.

For the Australian Football League, its experiment in creating a Messenger-based chatbot has proven capable of not just of answering common questions, but also improving overall fan engagement.

According to AFL fan engagement editor, Matt Price, the AFL bot for Messenger was conceived during a 2017 hackathon at the AFL and launched ahead of the finals series in September that year.

“It began as an experiment to see whether we could build a finals assistant for Messenger, which would answer fans' questions about matches and events,” Price tells CMO. “We knew a large percentage of our fans were already active on Messenger, so it was a natural fit for what we wanted to trial with the bot.”

Today, the AFL has a network of over 50,000 fans who have interacted with the chatbot, but Price says he is more interested in looking at who's actively engaging on a daily or weekly basis.

“We have over 15,000 active users per week, and during the season we're adding around 800 active users weekly,” Price says.

It has also provided a way for the AFL to engage more personally with footy fans, especially in the 18-24 and 25-34 age groups.

“We also know footy fans are busy and we know different things matter to different fans,” Price says. “The bot has been a great way to make it more convenient for time-poor fans to keep up to speed with the footy news that matters to them.

In addition, the AFL has encouraged fans to provide feedback regarding what they'd like to see as part of the experience.

“Fans told us they wanted to know when teams made late selection changes, so we introduced that service midway through this year,” Price says. “Now you can get an alert when a player is withdrawn from a team on matchday, in time to make those vital changes to your AFL Fantasy team.”

Alongside news alerts, the bot's most popular in-season feature is the Friday Footy Quiz, which is taken on average by 6000 people every week.

The challenge now is to continue to maintain engagement between seasons. Price says during October, the AFL trialled nightly wraps of player trading news, along with a weekend digest that uses a storytelling format allowing fans to choose how deep they wanted to go with a particular story.

“We were encouraged by the engagement rates and feedback, so that format might be something we develop further across the off-season and into next year,” Price says.

The AFL is also continuing to explore new ways to tell stories on Messenger and connect with footy fans.

“Only a fraction of footy fans have discovered the AFL bot to date,” Price says. “However, we know that a large number of AFL fans use Messenger, so we think there's plenty of opportunity for further growth.”

Read more about how other brands are using chatbots:

Follow CMO on Twitter: @CMOAustralia, take part in the CMO conversation on LinkedIn: CMO ANZ, join us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CMOAustralia, or check us out on Google+:google.com/+CmoAu 

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Show Comments

Blog Posts

Sustainability trends brands can expect in 2020

​Marketers have made strides this year in sustainability with the number of brands rallying behind the Not Business As Usual alliance for action against climate change being a sign of the times. While sustainability efforts have gained momentum this year, 2020 is shaping up to be the year brands are really held accountable for their work in this area.

Ben King

CSR manager & sustainability expert, Finder

The trouble with Scotty from Marketing

As a Marketer, the ‘Scotty from Marketing’ meme troubles me.

Natalie Robinson

Director of marketing and communications, Melbourne Polytechnic

How do we break out of our marketing echo chambers?

Clients and agencies can get stuck into a particular way of behaving and viewing the world, but there are ways to break out of our marketing echo chamber.

Steve O'Farrell

Managing Partner, The Royals

It's a good idea. Customers really should control their data. Now I understand why it's important.

Elvin Huntsberry

Salesforce CMO: Modern marketers have an obligation to give customers control of their data

Read more

Instagram changes algorithms every time you get used to them. It really pisses me off. What else pisses me off? The fact that Instagram d...

Nickwood

Instagram loses the like in Australia; industry reacts positively

Read more

I tried www.analisa.io to see my Instagram Insight

Dina Rahmawati

7 marketing technology predictions for 2016

Read more

The saying is pretty tongue in cheek. It's not saying that marketers are bad people, nor that they don't take themselves seriously. There...

LYF Solutions

The trouble with Scotty from Marketing - The CMO view - CMO Australia

Read more

Given Scotty's failed track-record in the marketing realm the memes and the ridicule is very apt and is in no way a reflection on marketi...

denysf

The trouble with Scotty from Marketing - The CMO view - CMO Australia

Read more

Latest Podcast

More podcasts

Sign in