From Art to Science: How is bonusing evolving in 2020

Bonuses have been around for a long time, and they are here to stay, despite regulatory pressure in many jurisdictions. The principle behind has remained the same, but thanks to technological advancements, the art of giving out player rewards has turned into an exact science.

Nowadays, we have a wealth of data to work with, which paired with the right technology, can help any operator achieve the financial growth they desire.

We are set to explore how bonusing has evolved along the years and why crafting sophisticated player journeys by leveraging a wide variety of bonus types has never been easier.

Stian Enger Pettersen, EveryMatrix’s CasinoEngine CEO, shares his thoughts on the topic and gives some insights on how operators can be successful with their bonusing in 2020.

The intricacies of bonusing

Following the red thread of gambling, players have always loved to receive free of charge perks. Ranging from a free drink at their local casino, five extra bucks to place at their favorite table or consolation prizes in case their fortune looks the other way, gamblers have been hunting bonuses since the very beginning.

While turning from land-based to the online realm, operators have been trying to find the perfect formula to keep players engaged on their websites for a long time. And although it’s easier said than done, granting bonuses according to the players’ profiles and preferences is what sets apart an average casino from a thriving one.

Today, and with all the available technology out there, everything got a bit more complicated, and this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Bonusing has turned its back on experimental analysis, and now it’s transformed into a data-driven discipline, based on more than pure luck.

“Twenty years ago, everything was based more on intuition. A casino manager had to do a lot of experiments, and this wasn’t always based on hard data, because simply put, there was little of it available. The data available was often hard to examine and took a long time to do so.

“As a result, you did what you thought the player wants and prayed it would work. Luckily, casino managers can now look at real-time data which relives a lot of pressure to ‘get it right’ by yourself.” says Stian Enger Pettersen, CEO of CasinoEngine and product owner of the company’s BonusEngine.

The era of real-time data

Managing data and taking decisions in real-time is an essential capability which operators must have when handling bonusing strategies. Ongoing testing should be the standard, as it’s an effective way to determine what campaigns are working as expected. Data, however, is the one big differentiator between how this process worked in the past and how it works today.

According to Pettersen, “The available data and the tools we now have made everything so much more accurate. You can track a player to the point you know his entire behavior and you can accurately predict his next move and give out a suitable reward. For newcomers that can be a bunch of free spins, for high-rolling VIPs a lot more than that.”

Moreover, doing everything in real-time caters to players’ needs as Internet consumers. Big tech companies have been paving the way since the ‘90s and following in their footsteps is what iGaming needs to do, whether we like it or not.

“Not giving out rewards in real-time is simply something you cannot get away with, considering that players are, first and foremost, Internet users yearning instant gratification, like everybody else.

“Imagine having the player winning a bet at 12 AM and receiving the reward one hour later. It simply doesn’t work, no one has that kind of patience. It’s like searching for something on Google and not receiving the information you need right away.”

Recognizing customer behaviors patterns, dynamically segmenting players and activating real-time bonusing are slowly making their way into iGaming’s jargon, from conferences, webinars to more exclusive places such as board rooms.

From advanced algorithms, AI and machine learning, everything is possible and considered, especially since they can boost casino’s and bookmakers’ acquisition and retention campaigns as T1 best practices have been showing in the last years.

“We are working with milliseconds and very sophisticated configurations to make sure it works like a Swiss clock,” Pettersen adds. “The goal is to help operators attract, retain and reactivate players in a smooth, automated and data-driven manner.”

Crafting gamification and player journeys

There is a wide range of different ways to reward players, each with its own appeal and strengths. Rewards can be granted based on eligibility filters in combination with triggers on specific actions, such as betting a certain amount on certain games or sports, or simply logging in, or making a deposit.

Tech makes configuration options unlimited, but the secret lies in knowing when to pull the trigger.

As Pettersen emphasizes, “Operators can offer a lot of different bonusing options, and there is no secret that acquisition and retention heavily rely on awarding bonuses. But it’s not only about giving free spins or five euros as a welcoming bonus.

“It’s also about tournaments and gamification features that really help out operators make everything so much more interesting and eventually build a unique value proposition that players recognize and think about when deciding where to play next.”

As tech becomes more complex, so are the expectations of the players. Challenges, tournaments with leaderboards, and achievements are only a few tools that gamification has made available to operators and which can add more than one level of entertainment and competitiveness to the gambling experience.

EveryMatrix’s freshly re-launched BonusEngine is striving to do precisely that. While reducing operational load and freeing teams to focus on strategies, the solution comes to serve as a partner in boosting player engagement through campaign design, gamification, and real-time rewards.

“Getting players to engage, extend gameplay time, and return more than one time is a result of more than just one component. But as we’ve seen many times, bonusing done right is a crucial part of the process and can get revenues up in a matter of days.

“The challenge is to do it based on real-time data while protecting players at risk and making sure compliance requirements are met. Luckily, we have a lot of high-performing tools to do so, and I can wholeheartedly say that the job has never been more interesting”, concludes Pettersen.

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