Free-to-play games can manage the World Cup RISQ of retention

Free-to-play games can manage the World Cup RISQ of retention

Wednesday, February 21, 2018 Posted by Luke Massey
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The World Cup will put marketing techniques under the microscope

Tom Mitchell, B2B Director at RISQ, makes a persuasive case for big-jackpot free-to-play games driving cross-selling and retention of operators at this summer’s World Cup.

In the US, where state-by-state betting regulation is expected to gather pace over the coming months and years, some are proclaiming the last days of daily fantasy sports (DFS) in the face of the unrelenting march of sportsbook worldwide.

After all, how can a fantasy product compete with a sophisticated sports-betting offering which employs straightforward odds to speak directly to everything from game winners to individual player stats?

However, before they start penning the fantasy-sports obituaries, one simple attribute could yet help bring DFS back from the brink ahead of this summer’s World Cup in Russia: retention.

Genuine player engagement and customer loyalty has been difficult to achieve for countless sportsbooks. Customers come and go in an increasingly standardised market for prices and offers, and the World Cup only promises to extend this trend. Client acquisition is one thing (enticing players with an introductory offer, or a standout price is facile) but these limited-time feeds cannot generate lasting retention, which is naturally the ultimate objective for all operators.

Besides, regulators are rightly cracking down on misleading sign-up bonuses (due to their disingenuous terms, or onerous rollover requirements). So it always helps to have other incentives up your sleeve.  

Football’s showpiece event will put each operator’s marketing techniques under the microscope in June. Having canvassed numerous operators, RISQ has recently launched a partnership with SportCaller, the free-to-play-sports-contest specialist, which we believe will build a bridge between mere acquisition and genuine retention: big jackpot, free-to-enter “predictor” games. 

These free-to-enter World Cup Predictors will run alongside all the World Cup action, focussing on everything from match winner / correct score to dedicated player-performance markets in multiple-bet formats. Furthermore, these contests guarantee a winner for each prize pot, and will be run in conjunction with additional sweepstakes.

The games can be easily customised and branded to any platform to run alongside all the matchday action, securing recurring visits with a suite of new betting challenges each day which can capture the hot topics and players of the World Cup as its 32-team-strong bracket unfolds.

It’s a great way for operators to build acquisition and enhance retention, even reactivation of dormant clients with a free competition that offers players the chance of a big jackpot win, and an interest at every stage of the tournament. With this in mind, operators should align their overall package with complementary products which augment cross-selling and extent the player life cycle, bringing new depths of player-engagement. For basic user “hang time” remains the holy grail for any online offering.

The crucial variables to these free-to-play contests are their innate gameplay and payout potential. In short, users want playability coupled to a jaw-dropping prize. RISQ’s “Predictor Jackpot” solution now enables us to structure odds and paytables for predictor games to the tune to £10m which compares very favourably with existing products (e.g. Sky’s Super 6 fantasy football game promotes a mere £1m pot).

Jackpot size is not the only driver, though. Attainable prizes which regularly “trigger” will equip any jackpot game with an instant credibility. Therefore, the tiered rewards system that RISQ operates, scaling with behavioural data (e.g. the level entries), can now adapt proactively to boost the chances of that winning trigger.

Operators also want to offer free-to-play games which can both effortlessly educate and promote their markets to customers. So the best games will run off predictor challenges which merge simple propositions (e.g. which striker will win the Golden Boot) with more sophisticated bets like scorecasts (pricing the first goalscorer and correct score of a game in one combined quote).

It’s then a short stepping stone to convert these players (via corresponding “bet prompts” et al) into paying customers with an impactful ROI. Indeed, 10% conversion rates were previously cited from the free-to-play to real-bet domains (with an average stake-size of £12 per bet), and that was before RISQ’s breakthrough solution joined the party.

Accessibility and playability across all devices is, of course, paramount too - particularly on mobile, where smartphone adoption rates continue to ramp across emerging markets. In fact, with a fresh audience set to be acquainted with World Cup betting for the first time, any game which can enthuse and energise its client-base will deliver improved retention.

The best characteristic one can attribute to the right free-to-play offering is that these games should feel truly organic – i.e. nobody is questioning why you’re offering them. The format must also be natural to the make-up and accompanying excitement of the World Cup. And with many more free-to-play formats set to be introduced across the sporting calendar (e.g. golf’s four majors, Wimbledon, and the next Premier League season) these solutions can cater for all sports fans.

Indeed, even if your initial gains simply centre around corralling core consumer data (e.g. emails, demographics, preferred sports) any campaign to convert is still a big step closer to consolidation.

To butcher a line from Field of Dreams, we already know that if you build a jaw-dropping jackpot, they will come. Now, if that jackpot is married to an engaging free-to-enter game, they’ll return and stay. Players will be more likely to promote and share their stories on social channels as well, as they compete for bragging rights with friends and fellow contestants on tailored leaderboards and inter-player leagues.

This paves another way to personalisation, as operators progressively seek to appeal directly to partitioned audiences with bespoke content suited to them. Sportsbooks and casinos, on the other hand, will always struggle to foster such interaction because betting endures as a private pastime where players are more likely to keep their experiences to themselves.

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