Table of contents
What you’ll get from this guide
Gaming and betting are well-established industries with significant roots in physical spaces (high streets, casinos, race tracks) and old media (television, newspapers).
However, the global internet gaming market is huge and growing: it’s anticipated to reach $51.96 billion in 2018, and $59.79 billion by 2020. This spells a huge opportunity for online gaming sites.
However, as with any industry moving from bricks-and-mortar into the digital space, legacy issues are bound to arise. Winning market share in this competitive space is difficult, so marketing online games creatively and persistently is key to gaining and sustaining audiences.
Underpinning all of this is the unique internet gaming challenge of having a product where the differentiation (more or less favourable odds) is relatively transparent. This makes brand loyalty and lifetime value harder to drive without incessant (and ultimately unsustainable) offers and promotions.
This guide will cover the key marketing challenges faced by internet gaming providers – getting sign-ups, cross-selling to your existing customers and driving loyalty – and offer ways to address each issue in smart, sustainable ways.
Attracting registrations from first-time customers
With a wealth of choices available to them, first-time internet gaming customers can go anywhere to place bets or play games.
This means that online gaming sites need a smart customer acquisition strategy, with a clear understanding of the customer journey and how to optimise it. Here’s what you’ll need to cover in order to increase those registrations…
Delivering a strong user experience
With so many options available on a single online gaming site – from sportsbook to casino games – the amount of choice can turn into confusion, which in turn can lead to abandoned registrations or lack of deposits. A good user experience through clear design and content is key to converting, especially for new users.
Align with your acquisition tactics
Arriving on a landing page that’s crowded with too many offers or options can be confusing. If you’ve created a specific advertising campaign – say, for a specific sports event – make sure that the way to register and bet is clearly signposted on a dedicated landing page and that the message of the ad matches the message of the landing page.
Give clear calls to action
Help users navigate with strong calls to action, such as ‘play now’ or ‘sign up here’. Remember, if you make your users work to become customers, you’re likely to lose them.
Don’t make it too hard to sign up or check out
If your registration funnel has too many steps, it’s likely that users will simply lose interest or give up. Make sure that users can create accounts in as few steps as possible. Ensure that it’s easy and simple to enter card information and personal details. Find out more about how to create a great checkout experience here.
Mapping the customer journey
Understanding the customer journey – that is, the process that an individual follows from being unaware of a product to becoming a loyal repeat customer – is a fundamental part of effective marketing.
When it comes to marketing online games, this is crucial.
You should invest time in mapping your customer journey – in other words, creating data-driven visual representations of how a user will find your site and the multiple touchpoints they’ll go through before and after they land on your page (get the full guide here).
A clear idea of your customer journey helps you better understand where you have opportunities to optimise the experience for increased performance.
When you’ve mapped your customer journeys, you’re in a better position to optimise them.
Making your experience seamless and relevant is the cornerstone of effectively marketing online games – given that the gaming industry has long-since been at the forefront of commercial data science, this should be no surprise.
Understanding an individual customer’s preferences and position in the customer journey is pivotal to a retention play in gaming (more on that later), where favourable odds can easily draw a customer away to a competitor. Building an experience around their behaviour is where you can make all the difference:
- New or returning customer – create an individual experience for new visitors, who may be new to online gaming and need to be guided through the process
- Location – is there a big game or event coming up in this user’s area? Make a specific offer to entice them
- Basket data – nudge them towards completing the payment process with offers based on what they’re considering
- Device type – more and more bets are taking place on mobile. In these cases, it’s important to provide a seamless experience, whether that’s an app or a responsive website that provides a high quality user experience.
- Pages visited – what offers and styles of gaming are they interested in? Make an offer – like free or discounted games – based on their user journey and the content they’ve viewed.
- Traffic source – where did this visitor originate from? What does this tell you about their demographics and habits?
Use overlays to re-target abandoning customers
Overlay technology is the fast and simple way to make your onsite experience responsive to user behaviour. For example:
- Serve compelling offers to incentivise registration
By marketing to potential customers showing intent to exit, you have the potential to recapture potential lost revenue. For example, a UK-wide fast-food brand found a 13% uplift in conversion rates by targeting exiting visitors with a 25% discount offer and gained an extra 50,000 leads per month.
- Ask for an email sign-up
Building your email list can also be a valuable way to bring potential customers into the sales funnel for nurturing. For more detail on the benefits and how-to’s of email capture, check out our email capture guide.
Cross-selling to customers
Once you’ve signed up a new user and they’ve started to deposit and play, the next step is to turn them into a valuable asset by engaging them with different types of internet gaming.
For example, if a customer has signed up in order to make a bet on a football match, converting them to a different sport or gaming type will add value to that acquisition. A bingo player meanwhile might be effective cross-sold on certain casino games or lottery.
Here’s how to drive lifetime value by creating interest in other forms of gaming:
Create a sense of urgency
One of the features of sports betting is the ‘live’ aspect – which means that creating a sense of an urgency in your marketing is a great way to replicate that buzz for cross-sells into new areas of gaming.
For example, you could create limited-time offers with a live countdown. Psychologically, limited-time offers create a sense of scarcity that compels users to act immediately. By combining a compelling call to action with an eye-catching overlay, sidebar or button, you can recreate the sense of urgency and thrill found in a live game in another type of gaming.
Email marketing with compelling offers
Despite what the detractors says, email marketing remains the most effective way to market to consumers – in 2016, an email automation provider found a $44 return on every dollar brands spent on email marketing.
By creating personalised email campaigns based on behavioural and demographic analytics, gaming sites can design enticing cross-promotional offers that will appeal to specific users. For example, casino customers may be attracted by a casino-like bingo experience.
Marketers should take a methodical approach to cross-promotion, using a combination of incentives, personalised and tailored content in a targeted email campaign to persuade users to try out new forms of gaming.
As with any online business, keeping the attention of customers and continuing to offer what they want is a challenge – but a crucial one. This is especially difficult for online gaming sites since there are endless options available for consumers, with easily comparable odds that mean brand loyalty can easily evaporate.
Here are some ways to change the game and encourage loyalty:
Understand user data to make relevant content
Content marketing is one way to stand out from the crowd. Content marketing can be videos, blog posts, emails, onsite content and social media, and can be used to gain attention, win over customers or differentiate from competitors.
For example, Paddy Power’s Twitter account is well known for being humorous, such as when the social media manager got a text from someone who believed they were texting a woman they’d met the previous night – and posted the entire conversation online, creating a social media sensation and winning a lot of attention and press.
Stay on top of the sports book calendar and other events
Make use of upcoming sports fixtures to fill your calendar with topical content to create a hook that brings users back to your site for specific events, and communicates those events to users in order to keep them coming back. Some sites, like in the example below from Betfair, bake this content into their site functionality:
Consider seasonal and cultural events as well. For example, Gala Bingo has several Christmas-themed promotions:
Make use of behavioural analytics here to ensure that customers are kept engaged and in-the-know about upcoming events and opportunities to play. For example, if a customer is about to leave the site after placing a bet or playing a game, let them know about an upcoming game or live event to encourage them to continue playing.
Diversifying in the off-season
Football accounts for more than 70% of all sports betting; when the season ends, the reduction in revenue for is a less-than-ideal situation, so it’s essential that marketers play a part in keeping those users coming back. In order to retain this business and keep interest in your site high, you should attempt to increase bets from sport fans by offering:
- Other sports that run during off-season
- International divisions of the same sport – i.e. Australian A-League while the English Premier League is in the off-season
- Virtual games
- Different live-action events, such as TV shows
- Novelty bets to generate renewed interest in visiting the site, such as the royal baby name
Identifying and nurturing VIPs
You should be able to identify which customers are power users – they should be nurtured in a different way from others. Using words like ‘VIP’ will make them feel valued and inspire loyalty, but the VIP experience must be more than just a label. As the Harvard Business Review says:
“Loyalty shouldn’t be a data-driven gimmick for capturing customers and market share. It is one of those rare virtues that can be both a means and an end for new value creation in healthy relationships between consumers and companies. But that only happens if companies commit to offering loyalty as well as asking for it.”
Online gaming marketers need to identify and invest in the drivers of VIP satisfaction. Offering high quality customer service and maintaining high customer satisfaction will also be key to both retaining the VIPs you have and attracting future VIP users.
Keeping leads and customers warm with email offers
Guide customers towards new and different experiences by offering loyalty incentives. Some ways that internet gaming customers can be incentivised and engaged include great content, free play offers, discounts and limited-time offers.
The key to successful use of email campaigns for retention is in segmenting customers based on past behaviour, stage in the sales funnel and source of acquisition.
A huge range of factors affect marketing success in the online gaming space. From the complexity of the acquisition funnel to the attempt to raise customer lifetime value in a fickle market, you’ll need to deploy a range of strategies. Some of these strategies will be complex, such as engaging with your data in order to fully map your customer journey. On the other hand, there are solutions that you can start implementing today in order to start driving value while you work on the bigger tasks at hand.
Ready to make your gaming site work harder? Get your free CJO consultation today
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