GPWA Times Magazine - Issue 33 - October 2015

Player retention: It’s not just for operators anymore Most affiliates are focused on customer acquisition, but to build a sustained revenue stream, they should also think about how to keep their players in the game. By Aaron Todd A few times a week, Jeremy Enke picks up his phone and sees a reminder that DraftKings is running a contest and he only has a few hours left to enter. Enke is a frequent player on the daily fantasy sports site, so it has mountains of data on what he — and players like him — might be interested in. DraftKings uses that data to send him “push notifications” with in- formation he’d like to know. “I’ve actually signed up for contests be- cause I got a push notification,” says Enke, the founder of Poker Affiliate Listings. He’s now the director of acqui- sition at Pala Interactive, which launched last year. “You send a push, you’re in the palm of their hand.” Welcome to the changing world of cus- tomer relationship management (CRM) in online gaming. Most affiliates spend the bulk of their time thinking about acquisition and leave the retention efforts to the operators. But when a program offers a lifetime revenue- sharing deal, affiliates have a vested inter- est in the life cycle of their players at their partner sites. Those life cycles can vary widely depending on the type of traffic you’re sending and the operators you’re working with. Affiliate programs generally don’t pro- vide affiliates with contact information for their players, so affiliates can’t send out targeted e-mail prompting players who have made a deposit to return. They also don’t control promotions or bonus offers, so it’s no wonder many affiliates spend so much time focusing on acquisition rather than retention. While the bulk of the heavy lifting in CRM is always going to be on the operator site, there are some ways affiliates can influ- ence their players’ life cycles and create a long-lasting revenue stream. Understand changes in player behavior If there’s one constant in the online gam- ing industry, it’s change. Players have be- come very savvy and are looking for the best value they can find. “Back when I started, players were more loyal to the few brands they liked,” says Renée Máté, who has been an affiliate manager with Rewards Affiliates for more than 10 years. “Retention has to work about 100 times as hard as they used to in order to keep the same players loyal, com- ing up with more creative ideas to stand out from other brands.” With many players happy to bolt from one operator to the next — all the while chasing the biggest and best bonus of- fers — affiliates can find it hard to build a base of players to provide a strong, steady revenue stream. That can be frustrating, especially when it seems like there isn’t much an affiliate can do to keep players from searching for greener pastures, po- tentially through another affiliate’s site. Do the operators you partner with have a one-off welcome bonus and then that’s it? Or does it seem like they are constantly offering promotions that give the players great value and an incentive to play? You want players to be happy where they’re playing, to make it their online gaming home. If you find that players aren’t stick- ing around after taking advantage of a welcome bonus, you might want to start shopping around for new programs to work with. Build a community and disseminate the news Operators might disseminate news about their latest promotion via e-mail to play- ers, but there’s no guarantee that players are going to open that message. If you’ve built a community that players return to on a regular basis, you’ll be able to spread the word about the promotion and maybe get a player who hasn’t been active for a while to return and give an operator an- other chance. “To keep players coming to a site, you need to give them new information all the time,” says Máté. “There are a few sites out there that add new bonuses and offers to their home page every single day. Someone looking for new bonuses would likely be back every day to see what’s new.” Enke recommends getting creative. “If you’re an affiliate and you can fig- ure out some sort of app and be able to send push notifications through that app, you’re going to be miles ahead of every- body else,” he says. 46 Player retention: It’s not just for operators anymore