Blurring the lines between players and products

17 June 2020

As the industry begins to emerge from the disruption caused by novel coronavirus (Covid-19), ESA Gaming's Zorica Smallwood looks at how operators can retain customers that migrated to new products amid sporting shutdowns.

As our industry starts to recover and adapt to a ‘new normal’ following a challenging few months, many operators are now pondering how to keep the customers that converted from sports betting to other verticals as a result of cancelled live events and limited markets.

Virtuals, esports, and online casinos all saw upticks in activity as sports bettors looked elsewhere for entertainment. Although some will inevitability return to their first love, many will have enjoyed wandering off-piste and exploring verticals that were new to them.

Don’t pigeonhole players
Retaining their loyalty is nothing new. Operators have long understood the importance of offering a diverse product portfolio and cross-selling between different verticals in order to widen the player demographic and encourage loyalty.

For obvious reasons it can be a challenge as a bettor with a love for sports and all it brings might not be interested in playing slots or have the knowledge of where to start. What recent months have showed, however, is that branding customers as a particular type is almost always incorrect.

If a sports bettor is offered an alternative that complements rather than intrudes upon their sports betting experience, operators can engage them with a variety of verticals, make sure they return and ensure their recent conversion is not just a fad. The key is to offer the right alternative the right way.

Don’t push customers away
Rather than taking customers away from sportsbook they should be offered alternatives within it. Why offer myriad slot games with difficult to understand features and complicated paytables if sports betting is why they came to your site in the first place? Simple quick win and table games are far more approachable and engaging.

They’re also more conducive to quick-fire engagement during a lull in proceedings if they’re watching live sport, for instance. With neat icons, promotional tools and clever pop-ups that don’t drag people away from what for them is the main event, you can maintain engagement in multiple products at the same time.

A new future for cross-selling?
Only time will tell if the recent events have forever changed player behaviour or altered the way operators will approach cross-selling going forward. The biggest challenge will be the marketing of these products and ensuring they become a natural addition to the sports betting experience.

When introducing new products to customers, operators must ensure it feels proportionate, appropriate and, above all, non-intrusive to the sports betting proposition for which they originally came.

What we do know is that many operators have had to work a lot harder to retain their customers over the last few months and come up with new ways to entertain them. They’ve had to look at alternative products and how best to present them.

Product diversity and marketing that is in-tune with the shifting sands of consumer interest have never been more important.

Operators are now future-proofing their businesses by ensuring that their product offering appeals to a wide demographic, whether their preferred vertical is sports or casino, and that there is an easy and natural segue between the products. We are seeing a lot of interest in our games as a consequence.

Zorica Smallwood is an experienced financial executive who is responsible for the strategic direction of ESA Gaming. Her responsibilities include both day to day management of the business as well as outlining a clear direction for entering regulated markets across the globe. She has extensive knowledge of the industry through previous roles at Nyx and eGaming Consulting, as well as through a number of financial positions across the globe.