- Flexi Group
Engaging audiences to increase retention: roundtable part two
Since the inception of igaming, retention of existing customers has been paramount to growth and as competition within the sector has increased between operators, CRM is now more important than ever.
We spoke to Bar Konson, Head of Sales at NuxGame, Thomas Aigner, Head of Business Development at Ibex.ai and EvenBet’s Chief Executive Officer Dmitry Starostenkov about the changing face of retention, CRM and what makes a promotional campaign a success.
CB: What are some of the key elements for creating an engaging and proactive campaign?
BK: Reaching the correct audience at the right time with a suitable campaign is key, and operators do this through segmentation processes, where creating localised campaigns for players that share the same interests leads to promising results in return, and quickly.
For example, if you have a player within a segment built around American Football and send them a free bet on the Superbowl prior to the event commencing, the campaign will deliver strong results. Additionally, within the casino vertical, offering free spins for a particular provider to slot enthusiasts will equally provide positive engagement.
TA: We are now at a point where we can stop thinking about campaigns and the performance of campaigns and start thinking more about single actions that are best for each individual player.
By definition, a campaign is designed for a specific group of players in order to keep them engaged but by using AI to show the right content and messages at the right time and channel we can fully personalise the experience to each individual player and not retain them with a campaign that is only good for the average player. At this granularity, we can analyse what is best for each individual player taking into account what has worked in the past and what can be optimized to help develop new strategies and creative ideas. We want each player to be engaged in a safe and fun environment whilst developing new actions to retain them.
“IT’S ALSO ESSENTIAL THAT PLAYERS FEEL REWARDED FOR THEIR LOYALTY” Dmitry Starostenkov, EvenBet Chief Executive Officer
DS: Effective acquisition and retention of customers are vital ingredients in any igaming business, but poker’s innate social element makes these all-important factors significantly different to implement than in most other games. Operators looking to diversify their offering with poker need to cater their marketing strategy to match the game’s unique nature.
Tournaments are a prime example of this. Poker was built for these kinds of events and people will join a site just to get involved. But there are different tournaments for all kinds of players.
It’s also essential that players feel rewarded for their loyalty. The longer they remain on a site and the more games they play should result in going up in levels. This allows the operator to reward players of higher levels with greater incentives. For example, give them a bonus when they reach a higher level or give them a higher percentage of rakeback.
This allows the operators to easily introduce further incentives including VIP tournaments for elite players, set up cash tables for players of particular levels or organise tournaments and tables by the currency the players prefer to use.
CB: These campaigns can lead to bonus abuse by customers, which has become a growing problem within the industry, how do you combat this?
TA: Ibex analysis the expected CLV for each player under a large number of different scenarios. Using deep learning algorithms, Ibex sends an offer to a player only if sending that offer will change the player’s behaviour, and if that change in behaviour more than covers the cost of the offer.
If Ibex sees that a player is only depositing when receiving bonuses and has gameplay/withdrawal patterns that make bonuses unprofitable, it will decrease the bonuses sent to that player or stop bonusing them altogether. This negates the possibility of bonus abuse or the possibility of unprofitable customers.
DS: As with any form of gaming, sign-up bonuses can attract bonus-hunters along with the longstanding customers the operator hopes to draw. However, poker has the capacity for a wide range of bonuses aimed at encouraging player loyalty. There are ideal bonuses for different situations that make bonus abuse more difficult.
Customers that continuously spend time on your site need to be communicated with and shown they are valued. A strong retention tool to reward such loyalty is the reload bonus. Best reserved for high rollers and VIPS, it encourages players to redeposit, with the site matching the deposit. This is best rewarded when the customer has played a set number of hands.
“THE BEST ACTIVITIES ARE ALWAYS THOSE WHERE THE USER FEELS THAT HE IS CONSIDERED AS A VALUABLE PERSON” Thomas Aigner, Head of Business Development at Ibex.ai
A first deposit bonus, in which the operator matches the player’s first deposit, has become a vital tool for remaining competitive with so many affiliates on the market and also inspires loyalty. Most sites will match 100 per cent of the player’s deposit up until a certain amount, but some have found value in going as high as 200-300 per cent. Understanding which bonuses to offer and who to offer them to is a vital skill.
BK: Anecdotally, we don’t send non-depositing players a multitude of bonuses anyway. Trends show that if a player hasn’t made a deposit after receiving a no deposit bonus, there is a 98 per cent chance the customer will not make a return in the future. However, we have developed a risk management team that scans for fair bonus wagering rules and acts accordingly, with this synergy providing our clients with effective bonus campaigns.
CB: Outside of promotional activities how else can operators engage their audiences to increase retention?
DS: Casual engaging mechanics are more important now more than ever to online poker and casino games. For example, missions and quests with different levels and objectives. By creating the right kind of quest with rewards, an operator can make a player try different game formats, explore poker room options, engaging them more. In our platform, we have a completely customisable tool to setup these missions allowing our operators to make numerous missions and track their efficiency through CRM.
The social nature of poker also means that word of mouth is one of the vertical’s most powerful marketing tools. A referral programme can go a long way to enhancing this. Ideal for retaining customers and attracting new ones, this bonus is awarded to players that bring new customers to the site and should be paid out after the newcomer has played a certain number of hands.
For more experienced players, guaranteed prize tournaments can be enticing. The operator puts up the prize money and knowing this amount from the start makes the tournament very attractive for customers. However, this can tempt professional players, meaning the buy-ins could equate to less than the guaranteed prize money. It’s important to choose the right tool for the customer you are dealing with.
BK: Operators are increasingly having to develop their casinos with a focus on entertainment to increase the lifetime value of players and overall engagement metrics. This is made possible through consistent additions of products and verticals that they offer through NuxGame’s expansive platform.
Within the context of CRM, communication between an operator and its customers shouldn’t be limited just to whenever there is a campaign to promote. Regular updates around an operator’s growing portfolio, upcoming sporting events, increasing jackpots and so much more provides additional opportunities to welcome back customers outside of promotional activities.
TA: I think content was always stated to be king and has been within the live casino environment anecdotally speaking I’ve seen how great content can drive growth and retention. Additionally, gamification can also be an option if you can trigger the intrinsic motivation of game-play where you can compete with others in a social environment to be at the top of a leader board and get recognised for doing so.
Nevertheless, I think the best activities are always those where the user feels that he is considered as a valuable person and can be part of a community which can only be achieved if we’re able to really personalise experiences and not create more campaigns and activities for an average group of people.