1on1 with Degree 53's Andrew Daniels

1on1 with Degree 53's Andrew Daniels

Thursday, September 29, 2016
MD of UK-based web studio on its Penn Interactive project

Las Vegas locals and US regional casino operator Penn National has stepped up its online presence in recent weeks. First came the $170m acquisition of social game developer Rocket Games in early August and then in mid-September announced the launch of a fully responsive and data-driven website that hopes to clearly differentiate the company’s offering. TotallyGaming.com took the opportunity to talk to the site’s designers, Manchester, UK-based Degree 53 and its managing director Andrew Daniels about how the implementation of data analytics provides the key to converting traffic into customers.

TotallyGaming: Can you go into detail regarding some of the personalisation you have added to the site? You mention the analytics tools, what will they enable the site to do?

Andrew Daniels: We’ve added the personalisation tool, VWO (Visual Website Optimiser) to the back-end system of the HollywoodCasino.com website to enable the client to automatically offer relevant games, content and promotions to its users based on their behaviour. It also enables A/B testing to monitor which campaigns work best.

Analytics tools, such as Google Analytics, help businesses to track traffic to and within their websites. They can see daily figures of users, what pages they go to, how often, how long they stay on each page, where they navigate from the landing page to or at what point they leave the website. Custom events can be set up to help monitor conversion rates across key features of the website.

Analytics tools generally help to manage and monitor website performance, identify which pages work best and appeal least to the visitors. This means the website owner can make the necessary changes to improve on-page engagement and conversion rate.

TG: Is there now a science behind how sites are designed for customers?

AD: We used analytics from the existing HollywoodCasino.com website to understand pain points and popular features that needed to be corrected or surfaced as required. The science is probably following the UX best practices and tying them with business objectives or KPIs of the website.

For a gambling website, the priority is to guide users to start playing, betting or gambling as quickly as possible. Therefore, they should be displayed on the homepage and allow users to easily access them. The website owner needs to review the most popular and important functions that would enable the user to have a slick experience and, ultimately, meet the KPIs.

TotallyGaming: How does the data analytics employed help with the bounce rate?

AD: By viewing pages with the highest bounce rate, the website owner can identify why they don’t attract visitors to browse the website further, make a transaction or contact the business. It could be down to usability issues, which means the UX or design of the website needs to be reviewed and improved. Another reason could be that the content is simply not relevant to the users, in which case they decide to leave.

To minimise bounce rate, businesses can use similar content models of the most popular pages with the lowest bounce rate to apply to the ‘faulty’ pages. If users can’t find sufficient information and leave, businesses should ask anyone interacting with customers about the questions they get asked the most and publish the answers to them on the website. The UX and design can also be improved if the issues stem from them, as well as deleting any underperforming pages if users don’t find them relevant.

TotallyGaming: What do you see as the future for data analytics here? What will be the next step in the evolution of responsive websites?

AD: Data analytics is becoming more important in tailoring content to website visitors to offer them the best user experience and stay ahead of the competition. It is crucial to monitor which pages perform well and which of them don’t to minimise bounce rate. Businesses need to invest more resources into their online platforms to consistently monitor traffic, identify any issues and fix them in a timely manner. Analytics tools can also help with providing personalised content which can significantly improve the way users interact with the website and brand.

Analytics allows companies to see which devices are used to access the website. This way, companies can ensure that their websites can adapt to the specific platforms and screen sizes. With mobile traffic overtaking desktop devices, websites need to become responsive and adapt to smaller screen sizes. As online gambling is a growing area, it would be even more important to offer services for mobile users, as well as desktop customers to ensure that all types of users can assess their preferred games.

Totally Gaming says: Penn Interactive Ventures is making some noteworthy moves in the online space and its work with Degree 53 provides an interesting insight into the process of going about providing a fully-responsive website. According to the company, it has helped provide a 31% increase in page views and a 21% fall in the bounce rate which suggests the pair are on the right track.

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