1on1 with Dorothy Creaven on how the industry is handling mobile

1on1 with Dorothy Creaven on how the industry is handling mobile

Tuesday, December 20, 2016 Posted by Andy McCarron
Element Wave CEO on mobile UI and UX

Dorothy Creaven is the co-founder & CEO of Element Wave, a Mobile Marketing Automation technology built for Betting and Gaming. TotallyGaming.com caught up with her to discuss how operators have been adapting to the mobile platform.

Totally Gaming: Mobile is now the lead vertical for igaming and sports betting operators, how do you feel the industry has adapted overall to mobile as a user engagement channel?

Dorothy Creaven: Operators and brands were relatively quick to produce and launch apps initially, however the quality of early releases left much to be desired. Gradually, the quality of mobile products is increasing however there are still major improvements to be made in overall UI (user interface) and UX (user experience) design in order to gain a smoother look-and-feel and therefore a higher return on player loyalty on mobile.

Legacy technology also plays a part when it comes to real-time audience targeting and fast bet settlements. CRM and marketing data within betting operators tends to be at least 24 hours old. Now, due to strong collaborations between technology partners and operators, there are ways to work around these legacy issues and data-mine in real-time as a faster way to target mobile players. User engagement strategies are moving towards more highly targeted and personalised in-app messaging approaches rather than untargeted, blanket-style marketing.

Multi-channel marketing has been adopted well, with operators making the most of all available routes to re-engage the customer. However, the omni-channel approach is often misunderstood and without the significant investment required to generate a true omni-channel culture, players will continue to experience inconsistent look-and-feel experiences across the various channels.

TG: How do you define a broad term as ‘consumer-centric’ for betting operators, what should this really entail?

DC: A consumer-centric approach is defined as providing a positive customer experience throughout their whole player lifecycle, looking closely at their pre and post purchase events in order to drive repeat business. In iGaming specifically, this begins with movement through the player funnel from new customer acquisition to registration, first deposit, first bet, first win/lose experience, right through to re-engagement and repeated actions.

The focus has begun to shift away from pushing out generic marketing campaigns whose sole aim was for only the brand to gain. The newer consumer-centric model now has the customer at the forefront of each campaign: creating engaging products that your users won’t want to put down, to supplying customers with key information before they know they need it, to providing excellent customer support at any opportunity to drive a positive experience for both brand and user.

For example, if a player loses the fifth leg of their multi-bet, refund their bet if it’s the first time they’ve bet on their mobile device. This type of campaign builds brand loyalty in a market rife with competing operators offering better odds or bonus options.

Betting operators have a wealth of user data available to them, finding ways to harness this data to create more personalised experiences for users should be at the forefront of a more consumer-centric approach.  

TG: Assessing the industry mobile value-chain, where do you feel operators are being underserved and what impact does this have on final operator's product output for consumers?

DC: Betting experiences on mobile are often still mainly modeled around the old-style paper betting slips from shops. Mobile users end up scrolling through countless markets and options - many of which do not interest the player at all - until they find the market or option they are looking for either by using the search functionality or just by chance.

The brands that win on mobile do not copy old experiences and put them on a smaller screen, they reinvent the experience with mobile in mind. Betting is typically a highly pattern-driven activity. Players have strong preferences around the sports, games, odds, and types of bets that they place. Mobile gives operators endless data-gathering power on player’s patterns and preferences, and yet most operators are not utilising this data stream to personalise the mobile experience. This means that players get generic, similar experiences from most brands and this in turn leads to poor brand loyalty.

Betting operators are still quite focused on two to four week bonus-based conversion and retention cycles. Mobile data shows that at least 50% of people installing a new app for the first time will run it once and never again. Operators need to focus their attention on creating a great first impression and a differentiated user experience, instead of retargeting people with generic bonus offerings.

In European sports betting, 70% to 90% of mobile bets placed are in-play. The data speaks for itself; mobile players love the action and immediacy of in-play on mobile. Operators have an opportunity to deliver amazing experiences and dramatically increase turnover by listening to their mobile players and tailoring the in-play experience. The vast majority of mobile marketing is still focused on pre-match betting and bonus-based communications. Despite the technical challenges of in-play marketing, real-time data-mining, event-driven in-app messaging and machine learning solutions exist, are affordable, and have the potential to deliver significant impact to revenue.

TG: From your perspective, how should industry stakeholders develop ‘consumer-centric’ practices and competencies that should lead operational benefits?

DC: Betting and Gaming operators should look to the high street retail brands in the US to gain some inspiration into accepted consumer-centric practices outside of the industry. Companies like Zappos and Amazon have invested considerably into creating a customer-centric brand and culture within their organisations to provide a positive customer experience along all points of their lifecycle. They focus heavily on pre-sales retargeting tactics as well as reliable after-sales customer support to build long term relationships in order to drive heavier repeat business and higher referrals.

In Betting and Gaming, one of the most pressing issues still to tackle on mobile is to massively improve the (usually) dreaded new user registration process. Brands and operators should look to make the whole process much more enjoyable by gamifying this usually cumbersome user journey. For example, a small timer could appear at the top right hand corner of their signup journey with an in-app message to encourage users to “beat the clock”. Let them know how far they are along the way with a visual representation or progress bar. Small user interface improvements can have a significant impact on conversion rates of successful registrations.

TG: With mobile established as a key vertical, where do you feel that mobile capabilities will be pushed to in order to meet new industry and consumer demands? (essentially what's next for mobile?)

DC: Operators will need to invest more into data-driven technology partnerships to solve the many crossover issues around multi-channel marketing and audience targeting. For example, users who receive a push notification on their mobile device may not always welcome the same messages via email or web notifications. In order to avoid this issue, operators should choose a partner with a strong focus on real-time data and automation.

There will be tighter integration between apps especially around the area of payments. With open banking APIs coming down the line, there will be a considerable burst of innovation around payments. Mobile users will have much more choice and ease around how they pay for goods and services on mobile, leading to smoother user experiences and improved brand loyalty by providing easy ways to make and receive payments. In addition, with the advancements in fingerprint authentication, technology will also help improve new user signup and purchase journeys on mobile.

Chatbots, voice recognition, and machine learning are already starting to make an impact and this will continue to rise throughout 2017 and 2018. Mobile apps will navigate away from the one-size-fits-all touch points towards a two-way conversational experience where brands provide highly personalised and tailored experiences at scale to their customers across multiple channels.

Element Wave will be attending ICE 2017. Visit them on stand N2-100 or to book a meeting click here.   



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