Check out our latest interview focusing on retention with Araz Heydariyehzadeh CCO at Scout Gaming
Do operators need to go beyond loyalty schemes and bonuses when it comes to retention? Why?
Retention in the iGaming industry is incredibly difficult to get right. Based on what we know from intenrally and from market research, it is much harder to keep players engaged with online betting brands than it is with other products in other sectors.
The most common retention tool used by operators is of course bonuses and loyalty schemes, and they do work when deployed effectively, intelligently and as part of a well planned marketing strategy. There are some big players in the iGaming industry, like Skybet, who do this very well.
If it’s not done well these incentives are really only effective for as long as the bonus lasts – once the free spins have been used up, the player is no longer motivated to remain loyal to that specific brand and can jump to offers from another provider. Loyalty schemes do keep players engaged for longer, but with most being tough to progress through, they too can have their limitations. Despite this, operators still throw big money behind bonuses and loyalty schemes in order to stand out from their rivals and keep players coming back.
It is important to consider the bigger picture, and other – potentially more effective – ways of retaining players. This means looking at the player experience being offered and identifying ways of delivering even more value and entertainment. For online sportsbooks, this could be launching skill games such as fantasy sports for the first time to give players a reason to return to their book each day, week, or month throughout the season. Operators can also run marketing campaigns and promotions around these games to take retention to the next level.
How can fantasy/social/skill games be used to drive retention rates?
These games are hard to beat when it comes to retention. The very nature of fantasy sports requires players to return to the operators site regularly. In the case of daily fantasy sports, players return to change theoir teams, set captains or make substititions, this deepends their engagement with the operators brand. Our latest data shows that the average player logs in four times a week to make changes to their team. This in part helps to drive some incredible stats for our partners. According to the indexed numbers of users in the Scout Network, there are clear indicators that fantasy sports and especially season-long games boosts retention.
Here are some highlights…
- Churn after 12 months = 30% still active
- Churn after 24 months = 20% still active
- Churn on season-long fantasy tournament players = 50%+ still active in month nine
- Acquisition = +15% more players on a yearly basis after launching fantasy sports
- Time spent on site = fantasy players spend 20%+ more time than regular sportsbook players
Sportsbooks can expect between 10% and 30% of their player base to engage with fantasy sports products which in turn can significantly move the needle in terms of turnover and GGR.
What makes these games so effective when it comes to retention?
Playing season-long fantasy sports requires the player to log in each match day at the very least and usually over an eight-month period. That is certainly the case when tournaments are hooked up to large prize pots which is something we offer via the Scout Network. Fantasy really is a great retention tool by design, but it can also be used to drive cross-sell as, over time, fantasy players become trusting of and loyal to the operator’s brand. Indeed, we have measured a 45% increase in turnover and a 20+% increase in GGR on our partner’s sportsbook users that engaged with our fantasy products compared with those that did not.
How important is the skill element here? And what challenges does it present for operators?
According to a study by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, fantasy sports games reward skill rather than luck. This conclusion was reached after analysing thousands of win/loss records of fantasy players over several years. The indexed numbers in the Scout Network confirm this conclusion. Given the skill factor in fantasy sports games, players can train their skill set and apply their advanced knowledge of sports to improve their odds of winning. But similar to other skill games, this presents a challenge for operators.
To sustain a balanced game economy, measures have to be taken to ensure that all participants have a fair chance of winning and that even those who are new to the concept have an enjoyable experience. A game economy where only a small percentage of users have a chance of winning is unhealthy and ultimately drains that all-important liquidity from tournaments. That is why we carefully analyse games and ensure a healthy economy for all. This led us to make several changes to our popular Premier League Season game such as reducing multiple entries from single users, prohibiting certain tools used by high-volume players and softening rules around saving free transfers. This ensures that more casual users can come back to play the season game, thus improving retention rates even more.
How can these games be used in wider marketing activity to keep players coming back from more?
It is important to highlight that skill games are far more social and community-driven than sports betting and casino, and season-long fantasy games in particular add an additional dimension to the sport itself. This generates more fan and player excitement, and often throughout the entire season. Players can also improve their knowledge by embracing the community, chatting in the forums and researching insights and advice.
There is a growing content creator market directly involved with various forms of Fantasy sports which really taps in to the community feel for these types of games.
This is highly desirable from an operator perspective. Giving players a single ticket to a season-long fantasy sports tournament is not only cheaper than offering free bets or loyalty schemes, but the incentive lasts for the entire season. When this is combined with the social element of fantasy and how this helps to drive engagement further, it is clear to see just how powerful fantasy sports is when it comes to retention.
In terms of how to market fantasy sports, we have recorded cases where the addition of a targeted fantasy bonus such as a free entry ticket being added to a CRM email reactivation campaign has generated impressive returns. In one instance, the click-through rate was 25x the average and in another case, 2,000 inactive customers were reactivated within 24 hours of the email campaign being sent out.