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CX in Gaming: Personalization and Customer Relationship Management

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The COVID-19 pandemic caused the suspension of many in-person sporting events, as well as the temporary shutdown of casinos and other gambling outlets. This spurred a large shift to online gaming. The global online gaming (sports betting/gambling) segment is large and growing, with the global market expected to reach $127.3 billion by 2027 with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 11.5% from 2020 to 2027. This market consists of those participants solely focused on online betting offerings, as well as traditional media companies and physical casinos. The segment leverages the same CX solutions and strategies that other industries use, but there are unique attributes to this market that cause it to rely heavily on personalization & optimization and customer relationship management (CRM) solutions.

Solutions offered in the online gaming market are incredibly similar, making the market commoditized. This results in the need for targeted personalization and engagement to differentiate products. For those companies looking to support this segment, there are some barriers to entry, including regulation and compliance issues. Companies like Intilery and Optimove have CRM, personalization, and automation solutions that are used in the gaming market to increase engagement, manage data, and orchestrate a personalized customer journey. Mobile gaming operators need solutions that are easy to deploy and use hyper-segmentation. With little to no difference among myriad product offerings, operators rely on the ability to manage customer engagement, offering the right communication at the right time, through the preferred channel with the correct offer.

I recently spoke with Guy Leshno, communications and public relations (PR) manager, and Jeff Laniado, senior account executive, enterprise, from Optimove to learn more about how these technologies move beyond marketing automation to improve upon the customer experience for those engaging in online betting. Optimove is a leader in this market segment, with 85% of gaming operators using its solution to operate at least two marketing channels. In the past year, the company has added more than 40 new operators to its client list, which includes Rush Street, the Pennsylvania Lottery, Favbet, and Entain. Optimove’s Relationship Market Hub includes solutions for orchestration and decisioning, analytics, and an artificial intelligence (AI) bot.

According to Laniado, there are several factors that make the gaming market unique compared to other industry segments. One is the amount of data churned out. This data can include deposits, number of hands, and wins/losses, as well as historical data. The volume is extraordinary for each interaction. Another factor is the dependence on promotions and bonuses to drive engagement. This is a huge part of the industry and is used as a way to keep operators’ gaming solutions top of mind in a sea of similar offerings. The ongoing engagement between online gaming operators and the end user is another unique factor. Compared to an online retail engagement where someone may hit an e-commerce site, buy a pair of winter boots, and then unsubscribe from future emails, online gamers have an ongoing relationship and use pattern, allowing for many more opportunities for engagement. However, this engagement has to be highly personalized, including data points such as:

  • What sport is their favorite?
  • What type of game do they most frequently participate in?
  • What are their favorite teams?
  • Do they place bets on the weekend or during the week? How often?
  • What is their average win/loss? Average bet?
  • Have they lodged a customer service issue? Should a campaign be temporarily suppressed?
  • Have they been on a losing streak?

One interesting way personalization is being leveraged is in its use for socially responsible gaming, encouraging healthy and safe actions and mindsets for users. This will become increasingly important as online gaming expands and becomes more widely legalized. Not all players can recognize when they might be in over their heads or showing a pattern of unsafe betting. The use of personalization to categorize players by risk level can help identify people who might be on a path to unsafe behaviors. Optimove uses its orchestration engine to help differentiate between VIP and at-risk players, many of which show the same betting patterns. Optimove creates a unique weighted scoring system for each operator using its technology. The scoring system consists of player attributes that could indicate a player is developing at-risk behavior. Different weights are assigned to each attribute and red flag behaviors are addressed. An example is provided here:

“… players who have recently experienced a number of losses in a row and make a deposit, may be trying to win back their losses. This is often an indication of a player who might be developing unhealthy behaviors. Instead of waiting for the machine learning algorithm to flag this player as one who is likely to become at-risk, or worse, wait for the player to develop a problem, operators using Optimove can easily identify suspicious behaviors and react to them in real time, at scale… Operators can easily identify players who are exhibiting the first signs of unhealthy behavior and trigger a website pop-up encouraging the player to take a timeout and refrain from making an additional deposit.”

(Source: Optimove)

While it is true that operators are using these CRM, personalization, and automation technologies to market and gain revenue, there are critical CX aspects in play as well. Promoting responsible gaming will be a crucial focus area as it demonstrates a commitment to a player’s health, aids in retention, and fosters brand loyalty.

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