Introducing SmartLinks for TNEW

Author: Will Gregg

We are always looking for ways to reduce friction in user experiences, removing barriers to engagement and most importantly conversion. The global pandemic has placed increased pressure on organisations to maximise revenue through encouraging donations or bringing onboard new donors both to help stay afloat and continue to fund longer-term innovative artistic projects.

We often encounter constraints with purchase paths and APIs that can limit the impact of new marketing initiatives, requiring users to navigate through a multitude of specific pages to achieve the task they set out to do.

A website user’s attention is often divided and their attention span limited. If a task is too difficult to achieve, if there are too many hoops for the user to jump through, or worse, it isn’t possible, then they will simply give up. 

We’ve been working on a way to streamline the user experience of adding additional items when buying tickets. We’ve done this through developing a solution we like to call SmartLinks.

SmartLinks is a service that bridges the gap between TNEW and your marketing site to provide additional functionality to reduce friction in upselling, offer your members exclusive access to content and add donations to the basket in a single click.

We’ve developed two different types of SmartLinks;

  • URLs, which can be linked to from anywhere on the web not just your own site but social media, email campaigns or QR codes.
  • API, a set of endpoints that can enhance your site functionality with a powerful Tessitura proxy that utilises the latest REST API.

Case study 1: instant access to members-only events

First off let’s take a look at a membership upselling opportunity that is an easy win as you start inviting audiences back to your venues.

Offering early access for members is commonplace among the arts and culture sector. If you’re a member you can often book tickets a week or two before the general public, the main incentive here is that you can then book the best seats.

There is an ‘upsell’ opportunity to encourage those who aren’t members to join to get early access and can prove very effective when you have a popular performance that is likely to sell out quickly, however, asking people to go through the process of buying a membership before coming back round the purchase flow to find the event they want to book for again and then choose their seats is arduous and often leads to large scale drop off as users give up trying to navigate the journey.

With SmartLinks we can make the whole process much simpler, by providing a single button to click. Membership is added to the basket, rewards are instantly activated and the customer can focus on booking the performance they want with no interruption to the purchase flow.

We recently implemented this solution with Theatre Royal Plymouth.

Performance listing on an iPhone with a SmartLink to add membership

We added a prompt at the bottom of the screen for any event that is for members only. If a customer isn’t signed in and a member, the prompt is displayed.

 

A clear call to action features a special SmartLink. The SmartLink runs the customer through a middleware service that handles the heavy lifting of becoming a member;

  1. Check for a TNEW session using the shared session API, if there is one we use it, if not we create a new session and decrypt it for use with the REST API.
  2. We use the REST API to add a membership to the TNEW cart, we also include a contribution note which is required.
  3. Next, we upgrade the customers’ Mode of Sale so they are given the benefits of membership immediately.
  4. Finally, we redirect the customer on to the performance list for the event so they can book.

The whole process takes less than 5 seconds and the customer can continue booking through TNEW with their newly acquired access. They’ve saved themselves several clicks and at least 5 minutes and you’ve gained a new member as soon as they checkout.

iphone displaying Hairspray performance dates

Case study 2: exclusive content for members

Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington DC has the world’s largest collection of the printed works of William Shakespeare. They offer a huge range of resources for their teacher members who purchase their memberships through TNEW through a standalone teacher portal.

To manage access to exclusive content for Folger Shakespeare Library’s teaching portal we use our SmartLinks API. This uses TNEW to authenticate users and then determines who should get access.The teacher portal is built using WordPress and is not connected to TNEW.

Access to Folger Shakespeare Library’s resources is a benefit of becoming a teacher member, so in order to control access and verify eligibility, we needed to find a way for WordPress and TNEW to speak to each other securely and reliably.

TNEW shared sessions enables us to load in details of the current TNEW session, however, it only tells us so much. We also need to know if the logged-in user is a teacher member and the membership is valid. For that, we need the REST API.

Teacher members may also need to be using the site for a sustained period of time, much longer than the standard 20-minute length of a TNEW session, we don’t want to keep asking for authentication but for security reasons, we also don’t want people logged in indefinitely.

We used the API version of SmartLinks to make verification requests in the background asynchronously without having to place a loading screen in between every resource.

The flow-diagram below details how users navigate between the teacher portal and TNEW to authenticate their session and gain exclusive access.

A customer who is not logged in is presented with an overview of the content with a link to become a Teacher Member or sign in.

The sign-in link takes the customer to TNEW with a redirect set in the URL to return to the original content they were viewing. They login via TNEW and once logged in are redirected back to the teacher portal.

Once back on the teacher portal the SmartLink API fires off in the background to check that the logged-in user has a teacher membership and it is valid. If it is, the resources are displayed.

As the teacher browses the portal the API is being pinged in the background to keep them logged in by regularly resetting the TNEW session expiry to 20 minutes.

If the teacher has left the site then the session will time out gracefully and they will be logged out automatically if they haven’t done so themselves.

Not only does this feature help upsell memberships, but it also helps to validate the value of the membership by displaying an overview of the content available exclusively to members.

SmartLinks – Smart extras

IP Whitelisting
Tessitura requires a static IP to whitelist against, this can be troublesome for a lot of modern day website deployments that have no fixed IP. The SmartLinks service has a built-in proxy that allows us to whitelist a single IP and provide access to the full Tessitura REST API without you having to change any of your existing website infrastructure.

Extendability
By having both URL and API functionality hooked up to the Tessitura API there are many more possible applications for SmartLinks to help extend your TNEW implementation. Other potential use cases include straight to basket donations, abandoned cart emails and much more.

Get in touch

If you would like to learn more about SmartLinks or see a demo, email us on team@substrakt.com