What separates business successes from failures is the capacity to attract and keep customers. In this respect, iGaming is no different from other industries. But the tools for thriving in iGaming should be sharper because the competition is fiercer. You need to master reward strategies in order to achieve player loyalty.
Put on the table stellar customer support, efficient two-way communications, a solid product and top all that with cleverly designed rewards, and your iGaming business will go far on the success highway.
A staple of the iGaming industry, casino and sports bonuses are essential for acquiring new players and earning their loyalty or reactivating lapsed ones. And since unlocking the full efficiency of rewards requires a long-term strategy, we aim to share some principles needed to do that in this article.
In B2C iGaming, the clients – or players – give your business value. The crucial thing you need to expand your business is a growing number of active players, through the continuous acquisition of new players and retention of existing ones.
Customer acquisition is simply the number of new customers that end up buying your product. In our industry, that is typically measured by new sign-ups that make their first deposit. It’s a straightforward goal, but in the highly competitive iGaming world, you need to get creative to achieve it. And an attractive welcome package is usually your go-to resource for getting new players. After all, at this stage, players might not know that much about what you offer, and they need a reason to try you out.
Bonuses can be versatile tools throughout your players’ life cycles if carefully crafted. Firstly, when you need to get potential players’ attention, your bonus strategy should bring out some bells-and-whistles. Also, make sure you consider the competition’s offer when settling for a welcome bonus – you need to measure your brand against others, just as your potential customers will do.
Here are some tips to help you check how you measure against your competitors:
Now, armed with valuable insights, whether you choose to offer a generous number of free spins (or free bets for sports), a cash bonus, or a combination by building a welcome package, make sure you still turn a profit by matching their attractiveness with control mechanisms for bonus abuse. The basic idea is that you need to balance acquiring a player with discouraging bonus abusers.
For welcome offers, you should calculate how much you can afford to grant to new players, based on your business data. One way to do it is to make your projections based on the average lifetime value (LTV) of your players. LTV>Costs? If yes, great! Next, is this also true if looking at each and every channel that drives traffic to your website? As an example, does the LTV of referrals from affiliate X justify the bonus costs plus affiliate X’s commission, and all the other smaller associated costs? If not, well, then that affiliate brings you traffic, but not profits.
It is also essential to define the criteria for player reactivation that make sense for you: after how long from their last bet or deposit do players need reactivation, which inactive players should be targeted by a reactivation campaign, and when it’s the most efficient moment to do so.
Another critical KPI when talking about LTV is churn rate: how many of your active players lapse from one month to the next. More likely than not, you will find that the churn rate is higher among new active players than when looking at all active players, which goes to show that the earliest phase it the most critical.
Our data show that the difference in churn is +/-20% higher for players that placed their first bet last month vs players that have been with a website longer than that. Thus, there is a lot to gain from making sure new players stick around, as retention is always a better option than reactivation.
A great way to secure a good level of player loyalty is through a solid onboarding process. Some iGaming operators have looked at the gaming industry, and more should. If you play console games, computer games, or mobile games, we are willing to bet that you often have been walked through a game’s features with a rewarding tutorial. As a player, you are rewarded with low-hanging fruits as part of a guided tour that teaches you what the game is all about. More than that, such introductions typically also emphasise actions that the game designers want the player to make.
If applied to iGaming, this can translate into a multistep onboarding that goes beyond the actual sign-up. Sign up, verify email, upload KYC documents, make the first deposit, launch a game, place a sports bet, subscribe to newsletters (and the list goes on) can all be separate steps that combined result in a player’s first loyalty reward, and progress towards a second loyalty reward.
With the help of a bonus system coupled with a capable PAM, you can target players at the right time and increase your retention rates through rewards, create player segments in the PAM, and then grant bonuses based on those. By proactively encouraging your customers to return, you act to improve your churn rate. Each customer that you avoid losing to inactivity means revenue that you gain by avoiding gaps in their activity and more importantly, reduce the chance of losing them for good.
A loyal client is more profitable than a new acquisition simply because the cost of acquisition is high. It is also is far easier to keep the player in the game than to convince them to get back in the game. Thus good retention reduces the cost of reactivation.
Data across business sectors suggests than acquiring a new customer is five times more expensive than keeping an existing one. What this means is that increasing the player lifetime value (LTV) should be your top priority.
This is particularly the case for iGaming. According to aggregate data from PartnerMatrix, based on more than 60,000 gambling affiliates, the average CPA (cost per acquisition) in the iGaming industry varies around $50-100 per acquisition, and for the casino vertical specifically the CPAs go even higher.
The CPA also varies a lot depending on the location, success of the acquisition campaign and so on. Yet, one thing is clear: you need to maximise the average LTV of your players in order to be in the black after deducting costs from the revenue.
There are no clear-cut rules as to what kind of casinos obtain better player LTVs. There is more than one way to boost player loyalty and profits, but in our experience casinos that employ gamification seem to fare exponentially better.
Bonus gamification – for example, tournaments and missions – can be the preferable strategy for both acquiring and retaining players. It can be the differentiator that gets your new registered players to commit to a first deposit. After all, there are only so many bonus types, but bonus gamification allows you to get creative in countless ways.
It can also be helpful to plan some actions to boost your player engagement. From our experience, these are some things that work best, and that you can further complete with your findings.
When thinking about the long game, an iGaming business should be aware of how it should structure its bonus strategy. Luckily, the industry has access to a time-tested kit of strategies and tools that allow you to keep the right balance between player acquisition costs and player retention costs.
When thinking about the bonus principles that support long term success, we have already mentioned that gamification should be high on the list.
For younger generations of players, loyalty can be a question of competitiveness, and you can give them the experience of a tournament or mission, in addition to plain monetary gains. In other words, use gamified rewards to give players a winning experience even when they are not winning money. Another desirable outcome of gamification is that it is very attractive to real players, and not so much to bonus abusers.
Gamification can also be used in reactivation, such as to invite a player back into the game by offering a soft challenge with an attractive reward, or free entry into a tournament. In the end, remember that winning can have different meanings for your players. Without minimising the importance of monetary wins, keep in mind that you supply digital entertainment. Therefore, build your bonuses inventively, applying what works in other industries if possible.
A well-executed loyalty scheme point makes it so that leaving your website will become a cost to the player because they are leaving behind “progress”, levels, partially-earned-out rewards. Also, playing at another site is a cost to a player because they are not earning loyalty rewards at your site.
Among the other things to consider for a long-term strategy is that you don’t get stuck in the classical bonus strategies. Always search for innovative ways to attract, keep and reactivate players, and employ personalisation and localisation to maximise the impact of your spendings.
Not all your players are the same, and you need to address that. Player segmentation can help a great deal with that, as well as using a bonus system that acts on such segmentation. For example, if you notice wagering requirements are not liked by them, segmentation can help you differentiate the players with consistently fair behaviour and offer them bonuses with more flexible conditions.
Also, keep an eye on the future and employ all the benefits that big data analysis, automation and AI might bring to make your job easier.
Don’t lose sight of responsibility and compliance. First of all, the shifting iGaming regulations will need you to have agile teams and flexible software – on that it depends how quickly you will be able to access certain markets in the future.
Remember that your reputation matters. You need to offer fair and transparent bonus terms and conditions to your players if you want their loyalty, and good reputation greatly increases organic traffic.
A cross-vertical program can be another fantastic way of acquiring and loyalising players, and also reactivating them. To craft a highly performing, cross-vertical reward program for your brands, a great start is to analyse the player data first.
For example, check if customers who bet on sports tend to favour more a certain type of slots, then include some free spins of that specific slot type as a reward for them. Or it might be that a casino player has not placed a bet in a long time, so you can target them with free bets on their favourite sports disciplines.
Make sure you use the right betting software that allows you to apply all of the above and anything else you can think of.
You could consider linking your bonuses with your preferred payment methods. This allows you to reduce payment processing costs by driving payments through low-cost methods, but also to invite payment merchants to joint campaigns, where they pick up part of the bill, thus also reducing your bonus costs.
Especially in the iGaming context, where the CPA increases due to accentuated competitivity, it makes more sense than ever to use wager-driven bonuses. A bonus system that makes it easy for you to use wagering levels connected to any reward is a useful tool to keep your players and make sure you do not throw money over the window.
Therefore, whether you need a new type of bonus, new triggers, multi-level wagering, integrations with CRMs or gamification tools, and anything in between, the technology your bonus system is based on is essential.
Intelligently designed iGaming reward strategies are decisive in building user loyalty, thus increasing your revenue while lowering your costs.
To enable the full potential of gambling bonuses, you should also consider the bigger picture. Reward your players beyond bonuses by providing them with excellent customer service and products that offer rich content and superior user experience.
Supported by the right software tools and built on solid principles, your bonuses are bound to bring sustainable growth in customer acquisition and loyalty.
Read all the articles in our series on iGaming bonuses here.
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