Most, if not all, sports betting and gaming operators use VIP programmes to boost player retention. The exclusivity and value these VIP programmes represents varies wildly with some operators offering bonus credits or even cash prizes.

And the only thing standing in the way of players becoming a VIP? Registering.

So, in fact, all players are VIPs. Which rather takes the ‘I’ out of the equation. And because the majority of incentives to join the VIP programmes are little more than loss leaders to net new players, it’s not much of a programme either.

That isn’t to say all operators work this way. Some VIP programmes are more nuanced and offer repeat players on going incentives such as prize draws.

However, unless every player is guaranteed to win a substantial amount of money within their first 6-12 months of joining, they will lose interest and chalk it up to another trick to get their money.

The lack of trust between players and operators means that any offer has to be sustained or ultimately the player retention strategy will fail.

Value In Player (retention)

For any player acquisition or player retention strategy to work it has to be rooted in value. Historically in sports betting and gaming that meant money. Or money off. Or free spins. Or extra credit.

The problem is, when every operator in the world is offering the same thing (or some variation of it) the perceived value declines. It becomes the norm.

Much in the same way as banks offering free cash withdrawals. While banks may perceive it as a significant value-add, customers expect that as standard.

The sports betting and gaming industry has engineered a situation where players expect free spins, bonus deposits and more, just for turning up.

It’s not VIP treatment any more, it’s the vernacular of online gaming.

To deliver value that’s meaningful to players, operators have to be willing to offer more.

The challenge lies in the fact that, generally, consumers don’t want to feel like businesses are trying to win their loyalty.

Even supermarkets that offer customers membership cards, providing them with discounts or vouchers/coupons, struggle to win customer loyalty.

This is because the customers perceive supermarket prices as too high so rather than feeling rewarded, they feel like they’re just getting what’s due.

Moreover, the average customer has around 18 loyalty cards but only uses half. Loyalty as with any kind of engagement is based on relevance.

The advantage that sports betting and gaming operators have is their players are already active in the space and engaged with their platforms. 

The challenge is delivering more value than games and the potential to win big cash prizes.

Player Retention and Relevance

The biggest reason an individual stops using a product or service is because it’s no longer relevant to them.

That could mean they no longer need it, they’re no longer interested or they’ve found a better alternative. In an offer driven space like SBG, it’s usually the latter reason why players churn.

Regardless, the result is the same. 

Moreover, if operators haven’t done enough to keep the player engaged or feeling valued, it’s almost impossible to win them back. No matter how good the offer is. Except, generally, the offers are only targeted at new players.

This leaves churned players and, even worse, existing players out in the cold. The lack of value driven marketing for existing customers will ultimately lower player lifetime value and increase churn. Which has the added impact of driving up cost of acquisition because more players will be churning faster.

The lack of added value offered to existing players is effectively SBG operators getting in the way of their own success.

Existing players are more likely to play, and play more often. Therefore existing players spend more than new players. This should be taken into account when calculating player lifetime value and building out retention strategies. 

The two big challenges however, are firstly, player expectations are now much higher. As they are for most industries. Players expect a much higher level of engagement and added value in exchange for their money.

Secondly, relevance is relative. Without understanding what matters to players, SBG operators are shooting in the dark in terms of increasing player retention. 

Player retention can’t hinge on a single idea or ideas because not every game, service or offer will appeal to every player. But the one big advantage operators have is they have an audience who are already highly enthusiastic about their offering.

Personalised Player Retention

Players want to feel known and valued by the business they’re choosing to spend their money with. There is, however, a problem. In any other industry money is exchanged for goods or services. Adding value through loyalty programmes is a way of growing frequency of spend and average order value. 

In SBG, however, players aren’t buying a service per se. They’re buying the chance to win more money than they’ve spent. 

This can make any concerted effort to retain players seem like a waste of budget. The longer they stay, the more likely they are to win big. 

However, the odds don’t increase nor does, necessarily, the player’s ability to win.

Regardless, the absence of a broad player retention strategy that engages all players will only succeed in driving players away. And drive costs up. 

Sports betting and gaming operators have a huge amount of first party data. This means it’s relatively straightforward to deliver personalised experiences.

Something as simple as a personalised email campaign that, based on their user data, makes players aware of games they might enjoy, can make a big difference.

Similarly a promotional email campaign for players who are on the verge of churning can help to re-engage them. Giving away $50 of credit to lapsing customer is significantly cheaper than the $270-$330 cost of acquiring a new customer.

The more personalisation you can inject into the player experience the more likely you are to retain them.

It is not enough to just offer good games or favourable odds. Players want to feel like you appreciate them for risking their money with you. Which is essentially what they are doing. They are showing a significant level of trust in their chosen operator.

Risk and Reward

The subtext of making a deposit and placing a bet is the player trusts that they are being given fair odds and will be paid if they win.

When players feel like they are being squeezed for their money or that the risk outweighs the odds of winning they will leave and never return.

Because they no longer trust that operator to keep to their word. That trust cannot be won back, no matter what you offer them.

The fact is, player retention strategies don’t really require SBG operators to change the way they operate. They just have to personalise the player experience.

Show them games that are of interest.

Engage them with content about the teams they support.

Offer them favourable odds on their team winning. Or, to spice things up, even better odds of them losing. There are no shortage of ways SBG operators can create a fun, rewarding and highly personalised player retention strategy.

The data is all there for the taking.

The more players are made to feel like the reward for spending with you outweighs the risk, the longer they will do so.

As a result players play more, they play more often and, as a result, spend more because they’ll see the value in doing so.

As a result player retention increases and player lifetime value goes up.

Understand your Data

The first step is knowing what data sits within your business and how to leverage it effectively. 

The ability harness player data means you can deliver an experience players expect. An effective customer data platform can help you to ingest and build a player database that is granular, segmented and actionable.

User your customer data platform and the analysis it provides to refine your messages for maximum player retention.

Data unification, sophisticated multi-channel campaigns, multi-stage journey planning and hyper-personalised communications. It’s a big shift but it is the key to transforming your player retention strategy and increasing revenue.

To learn more about how a customer data platform – with engagement functionality – can transform your business and boost player retention, get in touch and request a demo.

About Xtremepush

Xtremepush is the world’s leading customer data and engagement data platform. We work with various top brands within the Sports Betting & Gaming industry. Schedule a personalised demo of our platform to learn more about how we can help your brand drive repeat players and increase revenue.