With professional sports leagues around the world either getting back underway or putting clear timelines in place to start the new season, the sports betting industry now needs to switch its focus to reactivating the players who have churned.

You certainly don’t need us to tell you how badly Covid 19 impacted vendors around the world, with hundreds of millions in lost revenue over the past 3 months.

Since mid-March, we’ve seen short-term pivots to old reliables like casino games and poker, and a stronger emphasis on niche products like eSports (which we wrote about here) and Virtual Sports (check out our guide here).

 If you’re interested you can watch the corresponding webinars on those topics; Promoting eSports as a traditional vendor and Converting players to Virtual Sports.

On Monday 15th June, we hosted an in-depth webinar looking at some tips and tactics to re-engagement your player base after the lengthy lay-off. You can watch that back here, or continue reading for an overview of the topics we covered.

Note: We used the European soccer leagues as the main focus for the webinar, but all of these tips apply just as well to other regions and sports.

What did we learn from the return of the Bundesliga?

The German football league was one of the first to resume, in late May. It was a welcome relief for vendors around the world, not just Germany!  

Here are some of the key lessons we learned from this.

Without a reactivation campaign, a high percentage of players won’t be back

As you can see from the chart below (created by our partners at Optimove), an average of 65% of European sports bettors returned to bet on the Bundesliga. Unsurprisingly, it was German bettors who were most keen, but there was a strong showing in other regions too.

Of course, more players will return in the UK and Ireland, for example, now that the Premier League has resumed. Likewise in Italy when the Serie A is back on screens on June 20th. 

The big question, however, will be exactly what percentage of bettors will not return?

We put the following question to those who attended the webinar; What percentage of bettors do you estimate will return “naturally”? i.e. without marketing or bonuses?

The responses reveal a fair degree of pessimism within the industry.

  • 90-100% (0%)
  • 75-90% (21%)
  • 50-75% (43%)
  • Less than 50% (36%)

This is clearly something that everyone in the industry will be closely monitoring for the next few weeks. It’s only in the fullness of time that we’ll know the answer, but our own research here at Xtremepush predicts that between 15% and 25% of your pre-Covid players won’t be back unless you make an effort to reactivate them.

There is a big opportunity to grow your marketing opt-ins over the next few weeks

Looking at the performance of our clients during the first few weekends of Bundesliga action, it was fascinating to see some big increases in engagement figures for both push notifications and on-site messages (or “pop-ups”).

The click rate for web push was approximately 20%, a four-fold increase on the typical rate. And not only that, but there was a five-fold increase in the number of new players opting to receive push notifications.

Meanwhile, on-site messages promoting odds on the Bundesliga after a login event were at 40%.

This is a clear indication that fans are hungry for news and want to be kept updated. With many of the leagues operating under an unusual, staggered timetable there is a big opportunity to grow your marketing lists. 

We strongly recommend promising to keep players informed about the schedule and kick-off times as part of your opt-in strategy in the short-term (for email as well as push notifications).

Outbound channels and smart segmentation are the only ways to re-engage with inactive, churned players

Another question we put to webinar attendees was; What do you think will be the biggest challenge when it comes to re-activating bettors?

  • Making bettors aware of returning sports and the new schedules (7%)
  • Re-engaging churned players, who have been completely inactive (53%)
  • “Bonus warfare”- Too many vendors trying to offer big bonuses (40%)

The biggest concern is how to re-engage with players who have churned completely.

That’s why your outbound channels (email, SMS and push notifications) are vital right now. You simply cannot rely on players making their way back on-site or into the app by themselves.

But hand in hand with this is personalisation and segmentation. We really cannot stress this enough; segmenting your players into distinct buckets, based on their activity (or inactivity) over the past 90 days is crucial.

Otherwise, you will end up in a scenario where you are needlessly throwing out bonuses to players who will be back anyway. It’s much better to keep those bonuses for the players who have churned.

So we have broken it down into three broad categories of soccer bettors and what we recommend your initial reactivation approach should be for each.

  • Players who have visited the site in the last 30-60 days and placed a bet

Most likely they will have bet on a casino product, but not necessarily (who remembers when we all became fans of the Belarusian league?). These bettors are still engaged to some extent and more than likely will not need much encouragement to start playing again. We recommend that you start outbounding them with informative content (line-ups and fixtures) to nudge them back to the live odds pages. You should only need to use bonuses as a last resort if they are not engaging.

  • Players who have visited the site in the last 30-60 days and haven’t placed a bet

What we’re looking at here is a segment of customers who are still interested in betting, but will need encouragement to start playing again. You may want to layer in some favourite team attributes in order to really get their attention, but support that with a small bonus (maybe 20%). If they are not engaging, then gradually increase that bonus and keep feeding them informative content.

On-site messages, triggered when they visit casino games, for example, would also be an effective way of bringing them to the live odds page for their preferred sport.

  • Players who have not visited the site in the last 30-60 days

This is the group that will be giving CRM managers sleepless nights! These players have well and truly churned. 

Don’t be afraid to outbound them with a big bonus as early as possible, and start warming them up with informative content in the days prior to a big game.

Beware of over-messaging!

There is one caveat in all of this that we need to highlight; be careful not to over-message bettors for the next few weeks. It’s likely that bettors are going to be inundated with emails and pushes, especially if they like to bet on a number of sports.

We recommend that you set a strict limit on the total number of messages an individual player can receive, either per day or per week. Not every supplier can do this, however, and it’s almost impossible to achieve if you are reliant on separate point solutions for each channel.

Wrapping up

As the sports betting industry’s leading supplier of player engagement software, we’re working closely with vendors around the world to help them reactivate their players. Feel free to get in touch to discuss our solution or to get advice on any specific use cases you have in mind.