How iGaming operators can keep customers coming back for more

Written and Published by: on Wednesday, 30 May, 2018
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As the US iGaming market becomes more competitive, operators must either improve the way they retain players or risk being left behind.

In Europe’s mature iGaming markets, the cost per acquisition (CPA) of a new online casino player can now exceed $250. CPAs in Nevada and New Jersey are similarly on the rise, and with more operators sure to enter the market following the repeal of PASPA, the trend is only going to continue on its upward growth trajectory.

The equation is simple: it is cheaper to retain an existing player than acquire a new one.

But how should operators best build a retention strategy that keeps their customers coming back for more?


Back to basics

Getting the basics right is the first step of any sound approach to retention. Do not take your eye off the ball. Every player that visits your casino, sportsbook or poker room should leave having enjoyed a positive experience.

Customers now have an unprecedented amount of choice when it comes to online gaming, so operators must offer a seamless user journey. A single bad experience will cost you the customer.

To achieve this, every segment of your business must contribute. Your product team must deliver the right games to the right players. Your development team must ensure outages are minimized. And your customer support function needs to be available 24/7 to address any concerns.


The power of smart bonusing

At the core of any successful retention strategy is bonusing. For online casinos, free spins may be tried and tested but there is a reason they remain a staple. Most operators offer some element of free spins in their welcome bonus and this is unlikely to change.

What can be harder to judge is how aggressively you should bonus players once they have been onboard.

There is no single answer to this question, which is entirely dependent on the player and where they are in the customer journey.

A player who has registered but not yet deposited can often be converted by an enticing bonus landing in their inbox during the first week.


High-roller heaven

On the other hand, do not get complacent with a customer who is visiting your website frequently. Regular loyalty promotions will continue to incentivize their return and leave them feeling loved.

We have found that generic bonusing rarely perform as well as the bespoke, tailored approach. This means ensuring the bonus matches a players’ average spend.

Don’t insult a high-roller by offering them a $5 bonus, but equally don’t intimidate a casual player with a bonus that tries to pressure them to play above and beyond their comfort zone.

On the subject of VIPs, it should a priority to make them feel valued. Take time to speak to them individually via your customer support, and build a personal rapport.

These are people investing serious money and time into your website. Only by building trust will you maintain that loyalty.

Talking to your VIPs will bring other benefits, as they offer a unique insight into your product. Mine their knowledge and opinions to find areas for improvement, and then refine what you offer to all players.


Content reigns supreme

Retention is not only about throwing bonuses at your players. It is also about effectively communicating with them.

Consider the language and content of your outreach. Does it speak in terms your customer will engage with and understand?

Do not over-communicate with your customers. Coming off as desperate and needy is a major turn-off.

It is also worth considering the channel via which you communicate.

Consider building a dedicated content hub to engage your players. Casino is an entertainment product, so offer content that will ensure players receive a fun experience.

This might involve educating your players about a game’s volatility and different strategies they can use. Ultimately, the more you engage and share knowledge, the better the customer will connect with your brand.


Creative retention

There is no single path to world-class customer retention. The way you keep players coming back can also become a point of differentiation.

Take gamification as one example. Incentivizing players via tokens, leaderboards and other non-cash bonuses can be a cost-effective solution that helps reach casual players.

The key is truly understanding what makes your customers tick. For this task, invest in a high-quality business intelligence tool.

This will allow you to segment users and pick out bespoke, actionable insights that can boost your retention rates. The only limit will be the imagination of your team.

For those in the US, don’t be afraid to look at more mature markets, particularly those in Europe, for inspiration.

Ultimately, offering a 360-degree approach to service, product, bonusing and communication is the only way to foster the long-term relationships required to retain customers.

Given the ferocity of competition across iGaming, investing in retention is likely to be the most cost-effective decision you can take.

If you would like to speak with Warren Jacobs about any aspect of customer retention, he can be contacted at quoting the reference iGUSA.