Mark Dennis is Head of Marketing for Low6, the award-winning gamification platform whose whitelabel games and technology powers sports betting operators, sports leagues and franchises, media organizations, and major brands around the world to help engage and monetize their digital fanbases.
As more States go live with the regulation of online gambling in North America, it has become a race to the bottom for market share. We’ve seen huge amounts of money being pumped into customer acquisition with a potent mix of ATL/BTL advertising, affiliate partnerships and sign-up promotional offers. But the operator with the deepest pockets is by no means odds-on to win the race to be market leader. In the long run, it will be the operator with the best product offering that will rule supreme.
Taking a step back, I have the pleasure of working with marketing peers across a broad range of sportsbook operators, leagues, teams, and wider media organizations. It pains me to see it but more often than not, their department’s focus has been narrowed into a promotional lever. How best to produce a slick TV ad creative, trend on TikTok, optimize their ROAS (Return on Ad Spend), or improve their SERP (Search Engine Results Page). But what about shaping and improving the Product? One of the OG 4 Ps of Marketing. Oh we have a Product team to do that.
From working in a tech company myself, I can see the value of having a specific product team to own and manage development. However, marketing is part of product and product is part of marketing. The business may well be signing up players for less than $30 bucks but if your on-site proposition isn’t that great, whether poor UI/UX or limited product offering, then those users will quickly bounce. And for a business, that’s a massive issue. Most players you acquire won’t stick around and marketing is then forced into expensive and time-consuming win-back campaigns. It becomes a vicious circle. One that can only be stopped with an engaging product.
Free-2-Play product works for marketing
This is where Free-2-Play gaming comes in. Not only does it broaden an operator’s product suite but the no-barrier entry to participate is a real driver to new users not quite ready to become valuable customers. Let’s not forget, most Americans have never placed an online bet in their lives before. By offering simple predictions in the form of Pick’em games you can combine the fun of gaming with the education of odds and tips. The option of not just playing against the house but competing against your friends is also a novel twist that allows the acquisition of new players through peer advocacy.
Forward-thinking operators are also starting to use gameplay data to personalize their product which deepens the player experience and, ultimately, improves retention. For example, if a player is consistently backing a team or certain athlete within the F2P environment, these interactions can be registered and fed back into future communications to offer the best real-time odds on those selections.
More established operators are also leveraging new formats of Free-2-Play games. Players are consistently looking for new experiences and the addition of unique games means they are less likely to bounce. We’ve also seen first hand that it can attract new players and demographics to your brand, with our NFT-led games mass appealing to Gen Z crowds. And with unique gaming and products you can also establish yourself as a standalone differentiator among a noise of like-minded sportsbooks. FanDuel executed this brilliantly several months ago with same-game parlays. Looking over the pond too, for another history lesson, the likes of William Hill and Ladbrokes only really started to gain significant market share when they partnered up with third party technology companies to enhance their product offering.
Operators and marketers take note – Promotion can lead a horse to water but it’s the Product that will keep it drinking!