Victor Pronk, Commercial Director at Incentive Games, says that retention provides a huge opportunity to innovate and is the key to long-term success
I strongly believe that this industry can count itself among the very best when it comes to customer acquisition. Operators and their marketing teams, as well as the third-party providers that support them, have absolutely cracked the code when it comes to engaging new customers.
But the same can’t be said for retention. This is an area where a lot more can and should be done by operators, marketers, and suppliers, especially when you consider that the cost of acquiring a player is five times more expensive than retaining one.
Player retention boils down to three core factors – customer satisfaction, customer experience, and customer success. Satisfaction is the hardest to manage as it is influenced by interactions with different parts of the online casino or sportsbook.
Experience is all about how well the product is presented and whether it is easy to navigate and use. Success is achieved by providing entertainment and making the player feel like a winner – rewarding the player with new content and daily prizes via free play games is a great tool for this.
To drive retention, operators must ensure they excel across these three areas. This means having a great product, exemplary customer support, and a well-managed user journey. This will lead to satisfied customers, but it is important to remember that satisfaction is linked to expectation.
For that reason, operators must not only meet but exceed player expectations. This means making them feel like a VIP and that their loyalty is valued and properly rewarded. To do this, operators must go beyond basic rewards such as spin the wheel games.
Gamification is an effective tool in this regard, but it is rarely used by operators to drive retention. If they do, it is via the previously mentioned spin a wheel games or scratchcards which use the power of variable reward to engage the player.
However, the basic mechanic of these games actually allows the player to see that they are often getting no reward or if they do, a low-level prize. This means the reward is no longer variable which in turn means the player stops coming back for more.
I strongly believe that retention provides a huge opportunity for operators, marketers, and providers to push the boundaries and come up with new ways of delivering high levels of customer satisfaction that ensure they remain loyal to a particular casino or sportsbook.
It is something we have been focusing on and have enjoyed success with. For example, we recently developed a bespoke game for a tier-one operator where the customer has to come back to the site every weekday to collect footballers for the upcoming weekend.
Every time one of the footballers scores a goal, the customer is rewarded with a cash prize. The game and gamification mechanics achieve a much higher level of return because it touches many-core drivers of retention – variable reward, FOMO, ownership, appointment dynamics, etc.
More broadly, free play games have proven to be very successful when it comes to retaining customers. This is because they help increase customer satisfaction, experience, and success by providing entertainment and making players winners.
Since freeplay is free, the player never really loses. Even when they receive a reward that is potentially worthless – such as a defender for Brighton & Hove Albion FC – they do not know the value of the player yet as the event (the weekend game) takes place in the future.
The player could score and they could receive a cash prize. Because of this, they do not feel a negative emotions. This can’t be said for a spin wheel games where the random number generator could and often does deliver a no-to-low value prize.
Retention is ultimately the key to long-term success for operators. The acquisition is important, but if players jump ship to another brand after a couple of months, then it is impossible to unlock the maximum lifetime value from them.
Of course, with the cost of acquisition increasing significantly in some of the biggest markets operators can’t afford to not have a solid retention strategy. An operator with higher levels of retention will be able to offer lower bonuses and spend less on marketing.
This is turn makes them more profitable and more competitive and who wouldn’t want that.
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