Strive Gaming: Localization is ‘mission-critical’ for retaining players

Strive Gaming's Jamie Shea spoke with SBC Americas about North American marketing methods and maximizing player acquisition and retention.
Image: Shutterstock

With advertising and marketing becoming more prominent in the North American gambling industry, it is important for operators to address these areas correctly, as they’re a fundamental component of customer acquisition and retention strategies.

Jamie Shea, Chief Marketing Officer at Strive Gaming

Jamie Shea, Chief Marketing Officer at Strive Gaming, recently spoke with SBC Americas about why she joined the company, marketing methods for operators across the US and Canada, and maximizing player acquisition and retention reach in each respective market.

Congratulations on your new role with Strive Gaming! Why have you decided to join the company?

I’ve been lucky enough to work with Max Meltzer (CEO) and Damian Xuereb (CCO) in a previous life and found them to be the ultimate pros. Their understanding of the North American market is unrivaled, and they know exactly what operators need from a PAM solution. 

When I decided to make a career move, I reached out to see if there was a way we could work together and the rest, as they say, is history. I’m so excited to have joined Strive Gaming as Chief Marketing Officer and to be along for the ride as the company goes from rising star to power player. I’ve been working in the gambling sector for more than three decades now, and I’m passionate about doing anything and everything I can to drive it forwards. 

For me, the repeal of PASPA in 2018 was hugely exciting and the opportunities that it has opened up to deliver thrilling and engaging betting and entertainment experiences to players across the US are unprecedented. Strive Gaming has the PAM platform to allow operators to unlock the huge potential on the table so to answer your question – who wouldn’t want to join such a kick-ass company?

With Strive Gaming, you’ll be working between Las Vegas and Vancouver. What opportunities are there for the company in the Canadian market specifically over the next year and how do they differ from prospects in the US market?

Strive is for operators targeting the entire North American region, so both Canada and the US. Ontario has proved to be hugely successful, and we’re here to help operators make a play in the market. As it continues to open up, we’re looking at how best to push forward with partnerships and integrations. 

The province will absolutely be a catalyst for others to legalize online casino and we see Canada as having just as much potential as the US. That’s why we have offices in both markets with our Vancouver HQ acting as a hub for our incredible team of technologists, developers, and product specialists. I see it as a huge privilege to be able to work between here and our Las Vegas office. 

In terms of how Canada and the US differ naturally the pace of regulatory roll-out is different, with Canada being slower than the US but it’s clear there are significant signs of further regulation in significant states in the US and potentially in other provinces in Canada over the next three years, it’s an exciting time to be on this side of the business.

With limited advertising options in some Canadian provinces such as Ontario, what can operators do to maximize their acquisition and retention reach?

Responsible gambling is rightly a top priority for operators and providers, and it must always be the foundation from which acquisition and retention campaigns are launched and run. This is certainly the case when spending big money on above-the-line campaigns featuring high-profile celebrities and brand ambassadors. But spending big doesn’t always mean spending smart and I think there’s a big opportunity for operators to drive acquisition and retention through education. 

Online sports betting and casino are still very new for US and Canadian players, so there’s a knowledge gap when it comes to how to bet online, the types of bets available, what odds mean, how mobile slots work, etc. Those that can make this information easy to understand and accessible have the potential to become the brand of choice for new online bettors and players. Of course, bonuses are needed, and offering free bets and bonus cash is a great way for players to learn how to wager and play slots without using their own money. 

Given the cost of acquisition, retention is vital so bonuses have a place here, too. But ultimately retention comes down to the experience the players received at the sportsbook/casino – if they have a bad experience, they’re highly unlikely to return. That’s why sportsbooks and casinos must offer a flawless experience across all areas from bonusing to onboarding, odds and markets to payments to exceptional customer service. But it must be remembered that this is an entertainment activity so operators must ensure players are having fun at all times.

At DraftKings, you were VP of Sportsbook Operations and VP of VIP Marketing. What advancement opportunities are there for sportsbooks in operations and marketing in North America?

There are so many states and provinces that are changing their regulations for online sports betting and casino, and each of these is a new opportunity for operators to explore. But operators must be mindful of the differences between each state – both regulatory and cultural. 

States are diverse, with different sports and different teams being popular. That presents an opportunity for betting brands to use these allegiances to engage bettors and allow to them wager and play in a way that enhances their experience of watching their favorite teams and players compete. 

Ultimately, localization is mission-critical and those that nail this will find they are able to acquire and retain players at scale in each of the states/provinces they target. Again, it’s all about providing a safe, secure environment in which consumers can have fun will betting on sports or playing slots and table games.

You’ve also led several sportsbooks across Nevada. What CRM lessons can online sportsbooks learn from retail?

For me, it always comes back to sportsbooks and casinos being providers of entertainment and fun. It’s about bringing a new dimension to being a sports fan and watching a team and players compete, and Las Vegas casinos and books have mastered this. 

Of course, online and mobile allow players to access betting experiences from home or elsewhere so it’s important that operators marry the convenience of online and mobile betting with the community and interaction that comes with retail betting. Those that can bring the unique elements of land-based and online betting together will ultimately be the ones that claim the largest share of the market.