Online Casino Engagement: Why Money ISN’T everything!

The recent growth of the online casino market is unprecedented and has been a major foundation of growth for the iGaming industry as a whole, however, this also means that it has, of course, become highly competitive as a result. Players have more choice than ever, making it increasingly difficult to acquire and retain their loyalty.

Traditionally, the online casino sector has relied upon monetary rewards and bonuses to minimise churn levels. However, Alexis Wicén, CEO and Founder of Unibo believes that there is a more cost-effective way to do this. Through harnessing the power of gamification and a Unified Back-Office, Alexis believes you can achieve better retention results than ever before. We caught up with him to find out more about these tools and most importantly, how the iGaming industry can best leverage it going forward.

What is gamification, what are the benefits and how can we, as an industry, best leverage this as a tool?

“Gamification is the process of taking something that already exists – in our case Online Gambling – and integrating more game elements into it to motivate participation, engagement, and loyalty. These game elements can be a wide range of different things such as Narrative (“Mario needs to save Peach”), Competition, Randomness, and Achievements. In our industry, there are several areas which can be gamified. The first to come to mind is, of course, gamifying the Gameplay by adding things such as Tournaments, Missions or Jackpots in a layer on top of the games will give players that extra reason to play at your site instead of your competitors. There are ways of gamifying other areas of the player journey as well, such as Deposits, Registration / Login, Uploading of KYC documents and even making sure the player plays Responsibly.”

With so much competition in the market, what can operators do to better engage players and stand out from the crowd without the use of monetary incentives?

“For a long time, many iGaming sites have focused on Acquisition through large welcome offers boasting high percentage bonuses. However, operators often see that a large chunk of the players do not even use the welcome offers, and the ones who do are in many cases only doing so because they have found a way of getting the edge on their side and jumping from operator to operator just using any bonuses they are given. The current use of “deposit and get” or “lose and get” (cashback) promotes the wrong things to the player. Using these makes the player associate getting something from the casino only when things that the player doesn’t want to do happens. Sure, the player understands that they need to make a deposit to play the games, but it is not something they want to do. Using gamified promotions instead focuses on the positive things a player will experience, such as Playing and Winning.”

Offering large bonuses is a common way for operators to reward players and keep them engaged. However, this can be very expensive. How can operators lessen their bonus spend whilst still maximising player lifetime value?

“Offering large bonuses often eats up a large chunk of your promotional budget. For the player, getting a large bonus right away often leads to players increasing their bets and if they win, they are required to spend a long time betting through the wagering requirements. We have noticed in our case studies that giving smaller rewards more often during the player’s gaming sessions leads to much more engaged players who keep coming back to the brand. A 100% up to €100 bonus for example is a cost of €100 bonus money, you can give a lot of free spins spread out over a longer time for the same cost. Giving out smaller rewards during the gameplay can be done through Missions and Prize drops.”

What is a ‘Unified back-Office’ and how can this be leveraged by CRM teams to streamline their work processes?

“Historically, Game Providers have been the ones building gamified promotional tools. Red Tiger Gaming came out with Daily Jackpots, Netent were early with flexible Tournament types, Yggdrasil have their Boost promo tools and PlaynGo offer Tournaments and Mystery jackpots among other things. Because of this, many operators have focused on using these tools rather than building their own. This has required CRM and Casino teams to learn all of the back offices of the providers they want to use, and then build their promo calendars accordingly. Providers without this kind of functionality would also often be overlooked in the monthly calendar. With Unibo’s Unified Back-Office, we have put all the promotional tools in one, easy-to-use place where CRM teams can execute the setup of their monthly campaigns in a fraction of the time and promote any or all of their game provider’s games.”

Editor’s Note:

After catching up with Alexis, it’s clear that the traditional way of acquiring and retaining players in the online casino space is in need of an update. The intense level of competition in the market means that monetary-based incentives are providing increasingly less ROI.

Alexis believes that through gamification and integrating more game elements into the customer journey, operators can motivate player participation, engagement, and loyalty more effectively.

It will be interesting to see more industry stakeholders adopt this more sustainable approach and take a step away from their core monetary-driven promotional strategies. It will certainly help to usher in the new generation of players, already accustomed to social gaming. We look forward to seeing how this transition will change the shape of our industry going forward.

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