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Counting on Convergence

Moving online players to your land-based casino

Counting on Convergence

Harnessing the power of convergence between online and offline properties can increase round trips to, and revenue on, your casino floor. Here are a few suggestions on how land-based casinos can take advantage of the evolving digital world.

A Platinum loyalty player at her local casino plays her favorite slot theme on the casino’s website for the third day in a row. She receives a text message offer the next day with an offer for two-for-one drinks at the casino bar for redemption any Wednesday night that month.

A VIP at the casino 100 miles away from where he lives drives within 25 miles of the casino on a business trip one day and receives a text message on his phone offering him a free dinner, tonight, at the casino.

With an online player community with the right features and capabilities, there are limitless user cases that bring incremental visits from your players online to your casino floor.

Just the Facts

Let’s start with a baseline of our current situation:

More than 26 million people are playing the top 10-rated Facebook casino games each month. There are more than 130 million smart phones in the United States alone, with Google activating over 1.3 million new Android devices each day.

According to the 2013 Active Gambler Profile report, 72 percent of U.S. active gamblers play casual games online—up from 56 percent in just two years.

Growth and change in these areas evolve so rapidly that there’s a good chance these statistics will be out of date by the time you read this.

Don’t worry—this isn’t an editorial about the evolving digital landscape. Many industry experts and various subject authorities have covered that already.

The goal here is to empower land-based casino operators with information to evaluate and implement solutions that exist today to drive players from online—on desktop, laptop, tablet or mobile devices—to your casino floor, regardless of your current online gaming regulatory environment.

Three things will greatly enhance your opportunities to benefit from the convergence of offline and online gaming options: 

• an engaged player community customized to your casino’s brand;

• a platform that exposes your online player community to games with marketing and promotions that increase loyalty and engagement while driving them back to your casino more often; and,

• a data-driven approach to integrating all marketing channels and maximizing ROI.

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Community Chest

Online player communities already exist for your casino.

Some you may own and manage, like a Facebook page, Twitter feed or YouTube channel. Others exist at the whim of the internet and its patrons—pages that cover your casino on Wikipedia, threads on fan sites like SlotMachinesForum.com, and countless others built and run outside the confines of your planned marketing mix. The methods available to harness players’ online activity to drive visits to your casino vary by the platform you choose, with options including: 

• a destination branded entirely to your casino, where your player data is kept secure and confidential; and,

• a destination where your brand shares space with others, where your player data is accessible to a number of third parties.

If you prefer the first choice, there are options to expand your brand online and build your own player community wholly branded to your casino, complete with marketing capabilities and free-play gaming experiences. And research shows players may prefer you pursue this option: according to the Active Gambler Profile, while over 90 percent of active U.S. gamblers would be interested in gaming through a branded i-gaming website, only 15 percent of those would be interested in gaming through a social networking site.

%image_alt%Everyone can agree on the importance of maintaining the privacy and integrity of your player data, which becomes more difficult when utilizing platforms like Facebook where your player data is used to serve ads from other companies (including competitors). Facebook has its appeal, including 1 billion users and a low cost to participate, but your organization could benefit more by using your casino’s Facebook page as an acquisition and retention tool for your own digital player network.

Compelling content and offers can bring fans to your network, and free games that mirror those on your casino floor can keep them engaged and returning more often, but a key benefit of creating your own digital player community can allow you to best monetize these players—an integration with your player loyalty system.

By connecting your casino management system and your online player community, you get access to a 360-degree view of player activity, both on and off your casino floor. You can leverage this information to deliver hyper-targeted offers to players, uniquely tailored to their preferences and activities to increase the likelihood of redemption.


Can You Hear Me Now?

Zynga announced last month a layoff of almost 20 percent of its workforce, partly as a result of the ongoing struggles to keep pace with player migration from Facebook and other social game platforms to mobile and multi-platform gaming experiences. The current purchase rate of mobile devices is 3 times faster than that of PCs, while the adoption of tablet devices has already matched the growth rate of PCs. Among key casino player demographics—of people over 45, up to 65 percent who recently acquired mobile phones purchased a smart phone.

This is the sweet spot for engaging your players online—it’s where in-casino players, online gamers and mobile users meet. Mobile experiences require content tailored to the device, and as online players continue moving from desktop to mobile for both browsing and gaming, it would seem prudent that a casino looking to build an online player community should ensure that, in addition to having a solution branded to their casino, they offer their players the ability to engage on any internet-enabled device they choose—desktop, tablet or smart phone.

%image_alt%A majority of smart phone users rarely find their devices outside of arm’s reach—one of the additional benefits of building your online player community with full mobile capabilities. Offer redemption rates on mobile coupon campaigns are five times higher than those on traditional printed coupons, and in a note more specific to our industry, mobile marketing communications (SMS and “push” notifications) see average open rates over 30 percent, compared to a casino industry average of 12.5 percent for e-mail campaigns, according to Casino Marketer statistics.

Finally, there’s the cost savings from mobile marketing campaigns—mobile promotions can easily be sent daily or weekly, as opposed to monthly direct mail campaigns, at a fraction of the cost and lead time required in traditional printed coupon campaigns. Less cost, better results—is that something you might be interested in?


Drive Incremental Casino Visits

We’ve covered some basic best practices for building your online player community:

• It’s branded to your casino and is customized to your casino’s offerings.

• It’s connected to your player loyalty program to give you the best insight into your players’ activity online and on your casino floor.

• It offers an integrated experience across your players’ online access points, everything from desktop computers to tablets and smart phones.

Build your network on the right platform and you’ll have access to impressive marketing capabilities. Some of the best strategies to drive players from your online community to your brick-and-mortar property harness these marketing capabilities and the power of mobile to reach your players anywhere.

“Push technology” allows mobile apps to generate pop-up notifications users can click to learn more. This can be set to trigger at times that best benefit your casino’s slower periods; set an offer for midday on a Tuesday redeemable that night if you’d like to drive incremental visits to your floor Tuesdays.

“Geofencing” allows you to set coordinates on a map and trigger events when members of your target audience enter or exit those boundaries. Some platforms will allow you draw these areas on a map, and set offers to trigger for specific players using your app on their mobile device if they cross the geofencing line. Harness this technology to reward players as they enter your property, or to extend them an offer for their next visit as they exit your parking lot.

Rules-based campaigns allow you to “set and forget” offers on some available platforms, inclusive of start and end times, caps on your liability from offer redemptions, and more, allowing you flexibility to tailor your digital marketing to best complement your current marketing mix for maximum benefit.


Casino Connection

Connect your digital player network with your loyalty program to leverage tools like push technology, geofencing and rules-based campaigns in harmony to craft personalized offers based on a player’s value to your casino, offers triggered based on time, player activity or both. Using the three above marketing capabilities, here’s an example of a campaign you could run through your network:

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Campaign Goal: Drive additional traffic to your casino on Wednesdays.

Setup: Configure a campaign that offers any of your Gold tier members living within 15 miles of your casino a free buffet. The buffet offer will appear as a push notification on their mobile device should they travel within five miles of your casino anytime Tuesday or Wednesday before 5 p.m. The offer is only extended to the first 100 players who meet your campaign’s criteria.

You could distinguish the above offer further by offering a different incentive to players based on their preferences, such as an appetizer at your sports bar for some players instead of a buffet. With the right tools, your offers can only be limited by your imagination, and will allow you to drive the right players from online to your casino floor in the manner most beneficial to your operation.

When evaluating potential offers, you may see better success with offers that are more compelling than any of your players would find elsewhere. You can train your players to associate offers through your player network with the highest value, which will both encourage them to check the network (online or on their phones) more frequently and make them more likely to redeem the offers they see there.

You could benefit further by extending an additional reward to players you drive from your online network to your casino. A welcome message on their phone with a dinner discount coupon (triggered behind the scenes as they enter the “geofencing” of your casino) is the perfect extra touch to increase player loyalty to your growing online community, and by extension each player’s future revenue potential for your operation.

A recent study by AlixPartners, a research firm in New York, found that “online enthusiasts”—those that like to game online and in casinos—have an average theoretical that is 10 percent higher than brick-and-mortar-only players. These “online enthusiasts” have higher gaming budgets and visit land-based casinos more frequently than their offline-only counterparts.

Regardless of your jurisdiction’s current legalization status in regards to online real-money wagering, these are the players you want to start engaging today to drive the future success of your casino floor. Your casino can build and benefit from this digital network today—where will you start?

Rory Shanahan is the head of marketing for Williams Interactive LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of WMS Industries Inc. and sister company to WMS Gaming Inc., founded to provide premium products and services to the global i-gaming industry, from the Play4Fun Network to full real-money wagering online casinos. Contact Shanahan at [email protected] or www.linkedin.com/in/roryshanahan/.

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