The online gambling industry, like so many other sectors, is an ultra competitive space. It is a landscape of exceptionally similar product portfolios and customer journeys. Creating niches is infinitely harder than ever, but has also never been more paramount.
So where are these customers and what interests do they have outside of the bookies?
How can operators engage with them?
How can they build loyalty?
A channel that can be used to answer all three of these questions and many more is social media. It’s a world born out of 21st century digital advancements. It’s a world in which bookmakers have started to live, some doing better than others, but none fully optimising the immense business value to living here correctly.
The main industry players embarked upon their Twitter journey towards the end of the last decade. Twitter itself, having recently celebrated its 9th birthday is now firmly established as a critical engagement tool, but it’s questionable as to whether the sector is keeping pace and following best practices.
This paints only the briefest of pictures, as now some businesses operate a number of Twitter accounts as customer touch points.
Analysis of those main Twitter accounts for the 7 gambling companies shows there has been a 60% increase in the number of tweets made during the first four months of 2015, compared to the same period in 2014. In isolated instances the increase was in excess of 100%.
The industry gets the fact that investment in social media as a whole is now a necessity over a long since considered luxury or nice to have, but are businesses channeling their efforts correctly?
Building loyalty with your social audience
Between 80% -‐ 90% of individuals who are active on bookmakers’ social accounts are male, but how, as a business, do you assess if your content is achieving its objectives?
Any social platform can of course evolve and be utilised in ways founders didn’t necessarily legislate for. Currently the predominant industry trend is to use this medium as a platform for product promotion, somewhat veering away from a vehicle for creating engagement, conversation and two way dialogue.
This analysis, above, is taken from over 5,000 social media posts around one bookmaker at this year’s Cheltenham Festival and illustrates how the social channels are flooded by bookmakers’ promotions and offers.
Does this engage punters?
Does this help build brand loyalty?
This one-‐way mouthpiece, whilst it does create a degree of brand and product awareness, is under utilising the very obvious opportunities to build rapports, connect with people and understand the very audience each business is striving to convert and retain.
As a bookmaker, of course you want news of your latest offer to be heard by as many social users as possible but to achieve this, you do not always need to be standing behind the microphone.
The term viral is synonymous with social. Analysis here of a free bet offer shows that over one third of users include friends in social chatter surrounding free bets, those users create significant brand awareness within their own social community and improve a brand’s reach without being seen to impose their promotions on anyone (and all without spending a penny!).
If brand loyalty is the name of the game, bookmakers should surely focus on rewarding customers that show loyalty. There are too many examples of customer loyalty going unrecognised by bookmakers (too busy with their promotions and microphone?).
The online trail shouldn’t go cold after positive user sentiment is conveyed, highlighting why detailed monitoring of such specifics must become a business norm.
Mining the social data to reveal actionable insights about your customers
So who in the industry gets the largest share of consumer voice and are the most talked about online brands?
Paddy Power, who have long since been applauded for the their social strategies, have dominated social dialogue in the first four months of 2015. A high level view below starts to give an indication as to the main topics of discussion, which represents only the start of analysing this information through automated outputs.
Gambling operators sit on a wealth of customer data. The ones that are making the more informed decisions are the ones who invest heavily in Business Intelligence as they seek to intimately understand customer betting behaviour, trends and patterns.
Diving deeper into one of these clusters of data, bookmakers can draw actionable insights from the unsolicited opinions being provided by customers on a daily basis. Here we look at customer sentiment towards a bookmaker’s app.
Looking beyond general sentiment we can ascertain WHY perhaps there is customer dissatisfaction with the app (crashing). In addition, we gather valuable insights to WHEN perhaps they use the app (when bored).
The point is that by harnessing this social data in the correct fashion, brands can build a more accurate persona of their customer. This in turn can be used as leverage in producing more effective marketing strategies and product development.
Who are these customers and what are their interests outside of the bookies?
The opportunity also exists to gain insight as to customers’ interests outside of businesses one to one interactions with them, something that is largely overlooked.
This analysis pinpoints the main user talking points, incredibly powerful data that should be incorporated into internal strategies, and additionally compares two leading industry brands.
Bettors of course heavily discuss topics in and around sport and gambling, and the information provided reflects this. However gleaning further insight allows for a more targeted and personal approach to business strategies. Understanding this gives an entirely new perspective to acquisition and retention approaches and helps to address consumer needs and issues. Social media is empowering consumers with a far-‐reaching voice that every brand must actively monitor and participate in.
Personalisation is a hot industry topic in 2015 and now the opportunity exists to gain an understanding of customer’s entire social digital footprints, identifying the content most popular amongst your audience.
Such granular analysis allows for a previously unprecedented understanding of customers and delivers incredible business insight.
Early adopters and forward thinkers are now utilising social media, not only to promote their brand but also to assist with digital marketing and growth strategies. They demonstrate through their activity the positive and tangible return on investment that such detailed levels of engagement can bring.
As data underpins the key decisions of today, businesses can no longer afford to sideline social media or treat it as a secondary concern. It represents as a very clear tool to improve performance, influence inbound marketing strategies and has the potential to create some much needed differentiators.
Many businesses still don’t deem there to be a correlation between positive business outcomes that derive explicitly from online social activity, but the data and arguments today are now far too compelling for anyone to ignore.