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Turning customers into fans

At a recent conference BT Sport shared a season’s worth of tips and tricks to help turn your customers into fans.

At a recent conference BT Sport shared a season’s worth of tips and tricks to help turn your customers into fans.


There are a million and one reasons why people go to the pub. The great British boozer is a place to go to laugh, cry, make friends, get away from the stresses of modern life, catch up with old mates, eat, drink, watch sport, listen to music, work and learn how to knit.


Don’t worry, we won’t list the other 999,991 explanations. However, in the course of visiting pubs the length and breadth of Britain over the last year and talking to bar managers we have discovered some really smart ways pubs operate in 2016. These range from getting customers through the door, keeping them happy and, crucially, getting them to return.


Unsurprisingly, many of these reasons relate to the digital revolution that continues to transform our daily lives. From planning a night out on a smartphone app and locating the pub on an online map to paying for drinks via one swipe of their debit card and documenting their evening on social media, customers have been quick to embrace new digital behaviour.


‘Customers have been quick to embrace new digital behaviour.’


The best bars and pubs haven’t been slow to adapt to this new reality either. So much so that it doesn’t sound out of place to describe pubs that aren’t on social media, don’t use a website or haven’t invested in contactless forms of payment as missing a trick.

Here’s what we’ve learned…


Get Social

The stats rarely lie. A whopping 81% of your audience is online, and 59% are active on social media. Nearly half a million conversations about pubs/bars happen on Twitter/Facebook every month. Can you afford to not engage with these methods of communication? It’s free advertising after all.


“We do a lot of our communication via Facebook: “It’s a massive part of our business now. For all the money that you would spend on hard copies – posters etc – if you put that time and effort into social media you see a much bigger reward.”

Soar Point, Leicester


“Social media is a massive thing. Pubs that don’t use it are really missing a trick.”


“Our main focus with social media is engaging with people. We like sparking conversations. We’ll always use as many hashtags as we can when it comes to the football. We find that people use hashtags to find out what pubs are showing the games and we like to get on that. We use sandwich boards too. Social media is a massive thing. A lot of pubs don’t use it – it’s crazy. It’s free publicity. Pubs that don’t use it are really missing a trick.”

The Raven, Glasgow



Chalkboards outside The Soar Point in Leicester



  1. Appoint a social media expert. You don’t need a digital marketing consultancy; a member of staff who is knowledgeable and passionate about social media can be just as effective.
  2. Keep the conversation going. Reply to questions as soon as possible.
  3. Use @btsportbars assets to save time – visit the Manager’s Office on our Customer Zone for more information
  4. Use Facebook, Twitter and co to update what you’re screening. On Champions League nights send out tweets at lunchtime and early evening.
  5. Experiment with different social media channels. Instagram works brilliantly to showcase your best food dishes. Snapchat works really well for up-to-the-minute offers.



*Ensure you’re listed on Google.

*Moreover, claim your business on Google. Mapping becomes a key way for you to build awareness of your venue. Customers – and potential customers – know that you’re open for business as part of the Google Maps service.

*It’s why we recently updated the BT Sport Pub Finder. It’s now powered by Google Maps and our customers are added automatically.

*Have you got a list of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) on your website? What are you regularly asked on social media or via email? Do you tell people when you’re busiest? Whether children are welcome to watch the big games? What would you want to know?

*Review your own website on a smartphone. How easily could you find your own pub?


Don’t Forget The Humble Chalkboard

Chalkboards are back, Back, BACK! Not only are they a means of sharing information, they are humorous, artistic and, above all, effective. They’re a way of ensuring your pub is talked about.


Keeping Your Customers Happy



Contactless payments are no longer just cards


Invest in Contactless. Paying for goods in this manner has gone mainstream in the last year. Not only does it cut down the time of a transaction – thus allowing you to serve more customers – it also increases spend.


Investigate apps like Orderella and Boppl, which allow customers to order drinks from the comfort of their seat.


Get people’s contact details where possible by offering them a free drink. Sign up to an email service, for example Mailchimp, and you can send them offers, promotions, etc.




Wi-Fi plus Arsenal available at The Tollington


The best pubs are community hubs. Offer free Wi-Fi and get new customers through your doors during the day. Up the quality of your coffee offer.


“Free Wi-Fi is important. We want people to come in and take advantage of that.”


Make it as easy as possible to access your Wi-Fi. Do away with passcodes and make logging on a one-click service.


Pubs that offer Wi-Fi and decent coffee have added an extra dimension to their business. A recent study by the Newcastle Business School found that rural areas with a local pub had a greater sense of social cohesion and enhanced community.


“Free Wi-Fi is important. That (free Wi-Fi) is another box ticked. We want people to come in and take advantage of that.”

The Antwerp Arms, London


Keep in Touch

  • Email and tweet offers and news regularly.
  • Do you monitor what people are interested in?
  • Always thank people for their feedback.
  • Share positive feedback to your community.
  • Share broader community news. Be an integral part of your community.



More than a drink



Craft beer at The Raven, Glasgow


It’s not just about digital media and screening the latest sporting action of course. The pub industry is constantly evolving and adapting to new customer trends.


Craft beer has revolutionised vast swathes of the beer sector.


Gastropubs kicked off the massive upturn in the quality of food on offer inside our pubs and the possibilities offered by Street Food have pushed this on further.


Don’t neglect your outside space.


Explore the use of loyalty and discount cards.


Personality goes a long way. Most pubs can’t count on alcohol to pull in the customers these days. That’s why cultivating a niche personality – from housing a record shop in a Glasgow pub and a butchers inside a Suffolk bar to a movie-themed London boozer – will get results.


Last Orders

Most talk surrounding the UK’s bars and pubs is one of doom and gloom. It doesn’t have to be this way. The pubs we’ve visited have bucked this trend. They’ve helped to regenerate run-down inner city areas, fought off the greedy hands of property developers and brought communities together.


Making use of some of our findings should bring positive change to your bar too.