Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Marketing managers and responsible gaming managers have the same ultimate goal

Player protection has typically been viewed as a compliance activity by online operators. This was re-affirmed to me following a recent discussion I had on the benefits of player behaviour tracking with a marketing manager. A summary of our conversation will be familiar to many in the industry;
  • The use of behaviour tracking technology is primarily used for detecting VIP players (such as grinders at poker) in order to quickly identify them and retain them before they slip away 
  • Acquisition costs are high and these types of players are difficult to get
  • A relatively small percentage of players deliver the largest share of revenues
  • Therefore focusing on VIPs is not an unreasonable strategy 
But what about the vast majority of players that do not fall into this VIP category? Are operators realising as much value from these relationships as they could be? If the answer is no then could responsible gaming and player protection be better leveraged to manage the customer lifecycle? And what if the the marketing and responsible gaming managers were measured using similar KPIs (key performance indicators)?

Marketing 101 text books will teach you the importance of STP; segmentation, targeting and positioning. If executed well STP can move an organisation from differentiation to customisation, the holy grail of marketing. But this is very hard to get right. Take an industry that has been here for a long time such as financial services. To do this well the organisation must be able to collect customer data from all channels, monitor significant triggers in a customer’s life (e.g. change of job, significant credit), track key events and react accordingly (mortgage expiry), offer logical selections (such as savings v. competitors) and undertake propensity modelling based on key variables (such as credit company risk profiling). Whilst the best organisations can do this and do put more emphasis on maintaining the most profitable customer relationships they also put serious effort into making all customer relationships profitable and sustainable if possible.

 Applying these principles to online customer relationships could help convert some of the short-term player relationships to more sustainable relationships. How? For example, if one of your newly acquired non-VIP players was demonstrating early signs of problem gambling behaviour would it make more sense to send an undifferentiated marketing offer to this player or to send more personalised and meaningful tips on their game play and how they could keep it fun? In other words would you rather keep this type of player for a month or as an active player for 12+ months?

With this in mind why shouldn’t the responsible gaming manager also be measured and rewarded on player retention rates as well as their other responsibilities? And why shouldn’t the marketing manager be encouraged to design a sales campaign for a new regulated market that emphasises innovative player education features? Marketing is about meeting customer needs (and not primarily advertising) and responsible gaming should focus on all aspects of the customer lifecycle (and not solely compliance). Whilst marketing and responsible gaming managers' have different management responsibilities they ultimately have the same goal – building sustainable customer relationships.