Being able to continue sustainable growth through these uncertain times, whilst also adapting to engage a new type of player, has been a continuing challenge for iGaming stakeholders. Many operators have already seen much success in this period, but some industry commentators believe that the key to success is in creating an environment based solely on trust.
To avoid the risk of oversimplifying the issue, we spoke with Dmitry Belianin, Chief Marketing Officer of Parimatch International to get a more informed, granular view on what it takes to create a truly trust-based environment, what impact the shift in customer behaviour will have and what this means for growth in new markets.
Last year’s events changed the iGaming landscape forever. What was the biggest lesson you learned in regard to customer engagement and how will you use it to your advantage going forward?
“The impact of lockdown on players’ behaviour was critical and widespread across all industries, not only gambling. Expectations have increased as priorities have shifted to health and safety first, which have realigned fundamental human values and beliefs. Eventually, what was previously considered an excellent customer experience has no longer been good enough. Almost all gambling companies have been pushed into reorganizing their approach.
COVID-19 has widened the category and brought forth a more sensitive and selective player in their decision-making. Part of this is a result of players seeking out businesses that demonstrate and build trust. In the sports betting world, it is one of the most important brand attributes.
Creating a safe and personalized environment for players is the key. People were locked in their homes, looking for safe entertainment.
While introducing new technologies such as AI and automation are likely to be significant in developing more seamless interactions for customers, companies need to keep the experience ‘real.’ It is essential not to lose the human touch and make sure that customers are still being served by humans at the key moments.
Deliver targeted and personalized experiences tailored to your audience. Leverage a 360 mix of social, mobile, online search, email, and digital to solidify customer engagement. But be careful with the number of communications. Ensure that you produce less noise than before: people are still overwhelmed with the amount of information they receive.”
Sports betting has been under increasing scrutiny from a regulatory perspective, limiting how operators can advertise, such as the proposed ban of all sports-related sponsorship. What can we do as an industry going forward to maintain brand exposure and player engagement?
“The gambling industry is now facing the prospect of a sports sponsorship ban similar to that imposed on tobacco. However, there are still many loopholes and sponsorship options, such as club TV, stands, player sponsorship, or community/CSR programs. (like tobacco in F1).
I do find the way alcohol companies are switching to their alcohol-free products worth considering. I think that it is the right timing for most gambling companies to consider launching their free-to-play products. I like the Super 6 app by FOX Bet, and I believe it is a perfect example of what can be done in a pretty regulated market, such as the US.”
As the industry continues to grow, emerging markets such as the CIS region and India are showing great opportunities for growth. What can operators do to help push the sports betting vertical even further and encourage growth?
“First of all, increase the category’s size by creating surrogate products and converting people from cross-industries, such as social casinos and traditional gaming.
Second, running extensive brand advertising campaigns using high-reach channels, such as TV, radio, or similarly effective digital platforms. It will also help increase the size of the category and increase the solidity of the existing users.
And last but not least – educating the market by creating edutainment content. Starting from basics and then jumping into more advanced topics such as gaming strategies, markets’ reviews, etc.”
eSports was an alternative sports product that saw an increase in activity last year, attracting a new type of customer. How can we best engage this new generation who are not interested in traditional products and are more socially and achievement focused?
“It may sound obvious, but product gamification is one of the keys to success with a younger audience. Even though many companies know that, but there are only a few examples of the successful implementation of any gamification mechanics in today’s gambling companies’ products.
With levels, progress, and achievements, a loyalty program is a perfect example of such gamification extension to any existing gambling product.”
Dmitry has given us some great insight into the future of customer engagement. We now, as an industry, must be able to cater for the more selective and sensitive player that has now entered the iGaming foray since the onset of the Pandemic. Dmitry believes that finding the right balance between utilising new tech and keeping the personal experience will be the sweet spot for future player engagement.
What content they’re being engaged with will also be especially important when entering new markets such as CIS or India where the focus should be on ‘Edutainment’and free – to play products. A prime demonstration of why Parimatch have seen fantastic growth of recent, a trend we expect to see industry-wide going forward.