Optimove: How to minimize churn among World Cup 2022 bettors

Optimove World Cup 2022 Player Retention
Optimove's Pini Yakuel
Optimove CEO Pini Yakuel

Sportsbook operators can achieve a higher return on investment from their World Cup player acquisition campaigns and reduce churn by using a data-driven personalized approach to retention, according to Optimove Founder & CEO Pini Yakuel.  

Having looked at the task of player acquisition during the World Cup in the first part of this interview, Yakuel used the second installment to tackle the topic of retention and to preview some of the technology delegates at November’s SBC Summit Latinoamérica conference and tradeshow will be able to see at Optimove’s booth. 

SBC: While major football tournaments are always great customer acquisition events, operators will struggle to achieve an ROI on their promotional budgets if those casual players disappear as soon as the action finishes in Qatar. What steps can operators take to minimize churn or, at a later date, reactivate some of the bettors who signed up for the World Cup? 

Pini Yakuel: You are right. Past big-tournament data from millions of player touchpoints show that many players won’t continue to play post-tournament. Many will bail right after the final whistle. In fact, peak event new players, like those acquired during the World Cup, have a 25% lower retention rate and are at high risk of churn.

For operators, this is a real issue. They are spending ever-increasing sums on acquiring new players, only to see them vanish quickly after the tournament.

One way to mitigate that is to get new players excited about other upcoming sporting events. For instance, the Spanish LaLiga is set to continue just 13 days after the World Cup Finals; operators should not wait and instead start promoting relevant matches and competitions during the World Cup. 

New players will give operators hints about what might make them bet again post-tournament. For example, suppose a casual player bet repeatedly on Argentina. In that case, it’s only natural to assume they are also a fan of Leo Messi. Offering that player to bet on PSG in the aftermath of the World Cup could improve the likelihood of retention.

Another way for operators is to create that much-needed hook identifying the type of bet a player appears to prefer over others. For example, if a player bets on Neymar to be the top scorer this World Cup, definitely offer them a bet on Pedro to do the same in the next Copa Libertadores. 

SBC: Optimove has acquired the real-time personalization platform Graphyte and the mobile marketing platform Kumulos this year. What have those deals added to Optimove’s capabilities and how might your customers deploy them effectively during the World Cup? 

PY: Our vision is to empower marketing teams to put their players at the heart of every campaign and the acquisitions you mentioned bring us much closer to fulfilling that. In football terms, this is a perfectly timed assist for operators right before the World Cup.

The acquisition of Kumulos empowers operators to natively execute mobile campaigns using push notifications, in-app messaging, and web push notifications, in addition to pre-existing email, digital advertising, and web channels.

Operators can engage players with dynamic deep links that route each player to a dedicated lobby with offers tailored for them. For example, Brazilian fans would reach a page highlighting bets centered around their team and its stars, while Peruvian fans would reach a generic lobby with best bets for regional teams.

They can also use geofences. For example, in the case that a country has physical retail locations for sports betting, operators can set a digital perimeter around them and trigger a personalized message when one of their players enters that perimeter.

With the Graphyte acquisition, operators gain real-time content recommendations across any channel and touchpoint. They gain personalization from the very first visit. If a player interacts with bets for Colombia, the operator’s website will automatically update to highlight more Colombian bets. If a player is a returning customer, then operators can use recommendation models such as people near you, best bets for you, etc, to personalize their experience.

This allows operators to create a ‘Netflix-like’ experience of bet recommendations that is player-relevant, symmetric, and personalized. And this experience can be expanded beyond the website or mobile app, allowing for a symmetry that ends cross-firing messages that confuse and alienate customers.

Operators can also automatically trigger messages based on universal events from in-play activity such as half-time score, player sent off, or goals. For example, if a player likes to bet on Mexico, and they haven’t placed a bet on an ongoing game, the system can automatically trigger them an offer to bet if a goal is scored inviting them to place a bet on the final score.

The result is a more active, more engaged player, who feels heard, and gets relevant promotional offers at the right time, via the best channel. These are the building blocks of customer-led marketing, and the hallmarks of healthy, long-term relationships that improve retention. 


The SBC Summit Latinoamérica conference and tradeshow takes place at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, Florida on November 1-3, 2022, and will bring together the leadership teams and product specialists of retail and online operators from across Latin America.

Optimove will be showcasing its latest technology at booth A11, while its VP of Marketing, Rony Vexelman, will participate in the ‘Qatar’s Summer World Cup’ conference panel on  November 3.