As we approach our second CasinoBeats Slots Festival, the first of four in 2021, we continue to look into the impact the pandemic has had on the online casino slot sector.
During the first part of our CasinoBeats 100 Club we asked our members whether there should be an increased focus placed on the ways in which online casinos will retain the new cohort of players?
In the feedback, we were told that the industry had been ‘handed’ an opportunity due to current world events which has seen an increase in player activity.
In this second part, we delve into whether enough is done in relation to retention and if new and existing players are rewarded for their loyalty.
We asked: Does the online sector currently do enough to retain and build loyalty with its new and existing customers?
One of our members, Tim Parker, COO at superseven.com, exclaimed the sector does ‘nowhere near’ enough in relation to player retention, yet noted that it’s something which will change.
With the wheels already in motion in the UK amid the country’s ongoing Gambling Act review, Parker to claimed that ‘no longer will casinos be able to rely on lazy operations and poor UX’.
“I think that you will start to see far more corporate social responsibility programs and announcements, in a way in which you are already seeing in the US mega operators and throughout the wider corporate markets,” claimed Parker.
“You can already see this in some of the monopolies around Europe but this will become more commonplace alongside better RG programs where players feel safe, well served and not just a number in a massively profitable organisation that is happy to just greedily take money.
“This is the perception that sadly exists with many of the current players and the industry needs to understand, accept and continue to work to change this viewpoint.”
Echoing the thoughts of Parker, Degree 53’s marketing manager, Jenny Winter, emphasised that the sector could ‘be doing much more’ for their long term customers, suggesting it offers better and more personalised promotions and loyalty schemes to increase retention.
She commented: “Lots of non-gambling products now offer points systems or memberships where the more customers spend, the more points they earn, for example, Adidas. This would be a great place to start. Casumo, Sky Bet and Paddy Power already have loyalty clubs, so it can work really well for different verticals.
“I remember years ago, I received an email offer from eBay explaining that because I’d been a loyal customer with them for over a certain amount of years, they gave me £10 off my next purchase. There were minimal T&Cs, which gave me confidence that I could spend it any way I liked. Small gestures like these go such a long way. Although I wasn’t even thinking about buying anything, I used the offer on their site and I actually spent a little more, so eBay still made a profit from my purchase.”
Yet Winter also expressed the challenge gaming operators face in achieving greater loyalty programmes, ‘certainly if their website is built on a legacy platform, which results in getting all historic customer spending data becoming a lengthy and laborious task’.
“Starting small, perhaps within the customer services area, could be a great opportunity for some small wins,” Winters continued. “A great example of excellent customer service is the refund policy on the Deliveroo app. They use an automated system for resolving customer queries if something goes wrong with their orders. They automatically credit the account within seconds.
“The customer is more likely to keep spending with them because of this simple feature. Small gestures like these go a long way in customer retention so it is worth starting off implementing small but really useful features before adding all the bells and whistles.”
Staying on the notion of operators and the systems that they use, Melvin Ritsema, managing director at Royal Panda, stated that most operators have ‘quite sophisticated systems’ in place to engage with customers along with some kind of loyalty programme/promotions.
Ritsema said: “There is always room for improvement, but at this stage there doesn’t seem to be anything revolutionary. Gamification is often overrated when you take it too far. It needs to be meaningful for a gambler.”
Helen Walton, Glück Games’ COO, was more adamant in expressing her thoughts on if the online sector does enough for player retention, asserting that ‘we know they don’t’.
Walton went on to acknowledge that, as an industry, ‘we know our own problems’, yet consistently reject taking action to address them. She emphasised: “Having got customers hooked on deals, the industry is obsessed with squeezing margins, lowering costs, maximising scale and treating product and experience like a commodity.
“Food retail went through its own decade of agony twenty years ago when it built deal-hungry, promo-hunting customers – it has taken it years to wean customers off deals and carve out distinctive positionings.
“Of course price and value matters to customers, and supermarkets are relentless in their drive on value – but it’s not a race to the bottom, instead it’s meant really understanding customers and ways to appeal to the head, heart and pocket at once. Lidl didn’t steal market share from Sainsburys with value baked beans or with buy one get one free deals, they did it through offering BlackForest ham that tasted almost as good as Parma ham, but was half the price.
“Innovation on product, experience and pricing are all crucial to create something that customers actually want.”
Concluding our members responses, Mark Knighton, CEO at Obsidian Consultancy, noted that there are ‘definitely’ more creative options which the online sector could take advantage of yet it all depends on the market’s current regulatory frameworks, which he stressed are ‘definitely putting a strain on the ability to deliver a more creative marketing’.