25 October, 2021

The right tool at the right time

Hybrid Interaction Founder and Consultant Shahar Attias opens up the discussion on Marketing Automation Platforms.

“…A company’s sales come from two groups: new customers and repeat customers. One estimate is that attracting a new customer can cost five times as much as pleasing an existing one. And it might cost 16 times as much to bring a new customer to the same level of profitability as that of the lost customer. Customer retention is thus more important than customer attraction.” (Marketing Management by Philip Kotler, Uni of Phoenix).

Player management is what this industry is all about (and wild parties with affiliates, but that’s a topic for another medium).

This is what we – CRM people – do: retain customers and increase their ARPU (Average Revenue Per User) or, explained in a more common expression within our niche of online marketing: LTV (Lifetime Value). And when it comes to the systems we use, well, it’s like an old pair of jeans: it’s got to the point where it’s comfortable, and you just can’t imagine how another one can fit as perfectly. The ugly-yet-familiar interface, same reports with the good-old missing fields, list of KPIs nobody has ever used; it has become a part of you and the stuff your corporate culture is made of… pure nostalgia. And hey, you’ve got yourself a pretty decent business going on without those shiny graphs anyway, right?

Meanwhile, in a parallel world, new ventures are being established. They are basing their CRM back-end on technologies that evolve with time and adapt to the modern needs of operators like you. Knowing that such advanced tools might be giving the other guys a competitive advantage, it is indeed right for you to look into the newest trends in Campaign Management. Enter: Marketing Automation.

Why is this so important to us – iGaming Player Managers? Now that we are already established, retaining users becomes the most crucial aspect of marketing, and therefore, enhancing the engagement of existing customers is vital. Hence, excelling at player development is one of the most sought-after qualities of a CRM team, and this makes a good Marketing Automation solution as the most frequently used tool in our arsenal.

Now, assuming your name isn’t Colonel Jessup and that you can handle the truth, then the reality is most gaming brands operate a very similar campaign management technology. Quite simply, since the vast majority of the industry tends to rely on technological solutions from a minimal pool of B2B providers, most CRM teams are actually using the same tools to maximise profits from their databases. While in my webinars and courses, I always remain tool-agnostic and teach about concepts and best practices that can be executed with a basic calculator and some common sense (honestly, only one of them is mandatory), it’s pretty clear that with the right technology, operators can really boost their CRM optimisation. In this case, what kind of features does a Marketing Automation Platform need to have?

First and foremost, it would ideally mimic and optimise the daily routines of the CRM team when they are conceiving, launching, operating and analysing a promotional campaign (or Promo) for their active and inactive players. Such systems should first offer an easy segmentation of any potential target group, or filtering, in simpler terms. Next, the system should provide the ability to configure any relevant offering (bonuses, duh?) and distribute the associated marketing materials to the segmented target group. Once this is done, behind the scenes, the Marketing Automation Platform should allow launching the promo at the given time, execute the promo (meaning, awarding the reward to the eligible users as soon as they meet the publicised pre-defined requirements). Last comes an analysis module, which ranks the recent promo’s results with KPIs from previous marketing efforts.

Such capabilities should allow the system to deal with both “ad-hoc” promos (say, a weekend offer such as Deposit X – Win Y) and with User Journey Triggers: as soon as something happens or doesn’t happen (eg, detecting newly registered non-funders/once a player has reached Y days without depositing). This would be an extension of the former functionality, allowing to decide on an activity-related occurrence (detected in real-time) that would “loop” players into a segment being constantly reviewed by the system and present various offers in a tree-like decision-making format (“if-then”). This circle will continue until the player meets the criteria that were pre-defined as success. Otherwise, he/she stays in the ‘’loop’.”

But wait, the vital essence of a successful Marketing Automation Platform is… Automation! The latter should be integrated with the bonus mechanisms, on-screen instant communication channels and, most importantly, deep access into the players’ database and constant review of the games and transactions. In fact, with a fixable enough User Interface, this module on its own can also function as a sophisticated reporting tool, and that’s always an excellent benefit to have.

Oh and speaking about User Interface, preferably this entire flow of promo creation should be operated from within a single screen (meaning, no need to jump in between various systems to deliver the mentioned tasks). Yeah, right.

Think we are done? Here we can even raise the bar! Unlike some people's potential dating partners... This holy grail of a marketing platform should have Real-Time capabilities. Imagine having the ability to, based on results from previous actions, and according to calculated behavior-based alerts (as they happen), have a system that could conduct all of the above while the players are still logged in. Boom! We are talking about awarding personalised cashback to high-profile VIPs the second after they leave a gaming session, in which they have lost above a pre-defined threshold (and base the level of reward on that recent activity); yet before they angrily leave the site and swear they will never return. Impossible? Much like The Six Million Dollar Man, we have the technology.

As you can see, a successful Marketing Automation Platform would integrate with many different functions of the back office. This is why most operators prefer to stick with their default solution from their B2B provider. In most cases, stock-packaged systems work better, behave more fluently, and have fewer flaws in between the modules.

Given the constant lack of IT resources in our industry, a small company could definitely do without dealing with the complexity of a project of this magnitude, so this does sound like a sensible choice. And let’s face it, unless someone else can do it for you, integration sucks. Ask any programmer, and you will hear precisely the same (well, most likely, you will get a furious reply in Russian, but that’s the gist of it).

At this point, the intelligent reader might ask: well, why are we even having this discussion in the first place if no one can implement such external systems anyway? The correct answer, as always, would be: it’s all about that ROI, ‘bout that ROI (no treble). With such fierce competition on the acquisition front, brands that can’t take full advantage of each new player’s LTV will not last. Thus, to meet the deck of slides handed out to investors and remain “perfectly positioned for rapid growth,” operators must innovate and differentiate. Simply benchmark the unique capabilities and advantages said Marketing Automation Platform can potentially provide vs. the apparent implementation hurdles. #easy

Of course, there’s always a middle ground: operate an external system, but don’t integrate it with your back office, base it on “Up-to-Yesterday” DB refresh rate, and simply utilise it to help with decision making when it comes to player segmentation and value assessment. Is it good enough? Only you can tell. Just bear in mind that this will not decrease the workload for your CRM team, and naturally, it can (at best) assist with “Ad-Hoc” promos (as there’s no integration, there’s no real-time detection of activity and trigger-based User Journeys do not exist). Still, you guys need to run the ROI of such a possible output and decide. Or hire a CRM consultant…

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