Know how to hold ‘em: Six key brand loyalty challenges for the gambling industry

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In a world splintered by choice, Cian Agnew, Enterprise Sales Consultant at data marketing firm, Celerity, explains how gaming firms can keep hold of the fickle punter.



Brand loyalty has been an ongoing challenge for the gambling industry. According to Clive Hawskwood, chief executive of the Remote Gambling Association, the average player has around five online accounts – and it’s not hard to see why.

Gambling customers can’t help but have short attention spans when organisations spend millions of pounds on compelling ads that offer free bets, turns, and spins every year. Organisations build the wandering eyes of their target audience into their business model: during events such as the Cheltenham Festival and the Grand National, irregular or casual gamblers are persuaded to sign up to a new service and have a flutter.

When gambling companies are engaged in a perennial, escalating war of one-upmanship, it’s not surprising that brand loyalty is hard to come by. With an oversaturation of choice, distinguishing a gambling business to its customers and forging long-term relationships can be an uphill struggle.

These five key challenges represent the most important areas gambling companies need to focus on if they hope to nurture brand loyalty and retain their customers.



  • Operational efficiency  



Gambling organisations should make streamlining their route to market a top priority. Operational inefficiencies only complicate and elongate the process of creating appealing offers and sending them to relevant customers.

If promotions aren’t being signed off, or if the business is struggling to align them with regulations, it will limit what companies can deploy in a reasonable timeframe. Brand loyalty can only be maintained if the customer receives relevant offers in a timely, organised fashion.



  • Data security and GDPR



The EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) will come into force on 25 May 2018, and will introduce new restrictions on any organisation that processes, manages, or stores the personal information of the bloc’s citizens. This will naturally introduce further regulatory hurdles for the gambling industry, where huge centralised customer databases are the norm.
Using data responsibly and compliantly will be an important area of focus. In the wake of several high-profile cyber-attacks, information security is intrinsically tied to customer trust – and trust is tied to loyalty.



  • Speed and accuracy



Gambling is inherently time-sensitive: the moment an event is over, businesses can’t make money from it any more. However, getting communications out in time – and to the right people – is increasingly difficult. For example, Sky Bet was forced to end its affiliate programme last November after an investigation launched by the Information Commissioner’s Office: it was judged that the company was sending large numbers of spam text messages associated with gambling.


Companies offering free bets have to simultaneously ensure that their communications are sent in good time – and that they’re sent to the right customers. Irrelevance is no longer simply inefficient: it can have severe legal and commercial consequences. It’s hard to maintain brand loyalty when the brand is communicating too late, and to the wrong people.



  • Personalisation and segmentation


Profile building should be a key area of focus for gambling organisations that want to strengthen ties with their target audience. If a company doesn’t have a comprehensive profile of a user, the time they consume media and the ways they consume media, then they can’t effectively communicate with them.

Segmenting customers according to interests, demographics, transaction history and other key variables is essential. The window for delivering marketing and advertising communications is small, and potentially getting smaller, pending the imminent Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport’s long-awaited review of the gambling industry, which will include the government’s view on the rising number of betting adverts on television. Collecting the right data on customers and deploying it in a responsible, and compliant fashion will be critical if advertising opportunities are soon to be reduced.



  • Customer knowledge



Conversion rates on gaming sites – especially sportsbook betting – are often very low, and unsurprisingly so: ‘customers’ are often just browsing odds or comparing offers. How do gambling companies get these customers across the line?  

Firstly, gambling organisations need to find ways to deepen their understanding of customers’ online and offline profiles. The modern gambler is neither exclusively online nor offline, and understanding their behaviour and preferences across all channels is essential to better marketing communications. Data monitoring tools may aid in the development of more sophisticated customer profiles and behavioural analytics can aid understanding of their interactions with brands.

Options such as advanced retargeting may also help – relatively straightforward when dealing with existing customers who require login details to access odds or offers. Appealing to new or anonymous prospects when there isn’t anything to work from is somewhat trickier.

Ultimately, increasing knowledge of customers and their preferences will dictate whether a business succeeds or fails in a soon to become harsher regulatory environment.

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