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Don’t Date Your Data

With so much information available to casino operators these days, how can you evaluate its quality?

Don’t Date Your Data

For as long as I can remember, data—and what we did with it—was always an essential part of the world of casino marketers. Today it has become a focal point for anyone in marketing looking to build a case, get more budget, or justify the existence or continuation of any marketing program.

The challenge seems to be that a new data source comes with each day. The key is how we filter through a plethora of data and create the stories that matter to our business.

“Casino operators and marketers have no trouble generating data,” says Dan White of Dan White & Associates. “I think where the problem can exist is having mechanisms in place to filter or distill data in a meaningful way so that operators can then put that data to use and make good decisions.”

That can become a real challenge despite (or perhaps because) more companies are offering analytics services and ways to approach your data management. The number of tools and processes being introduced can seem quite daunting. If you are operating on a smaller budget, it could also appear you are missing out on something significant.

The trap can happen when filtering compresses data too much. Anytime we are dealing with data, we can tend to compress the complexity of the data down to something that is simplified for understanding.

However, that compression might lead to a flawed interpretation. A lack of filtering can be problematic because we end up looking at vast amounts of data. That opens the door for everyone to latch on to their favorite data point (typically because it paints the best picture for their efforts).

The solution is for the organization to identify and prioritize the key metrics that are important and meaningful and then build the reporting to capture that information. This process is critical if you are DIYing your analytics, but it can also be invaluable when considering a third party. Rather than allowing a third party to tell you what is vital to your business, you tell them so that they can give you the data you need to meet your goals.

We have to know our actions lead to the correct response, and that response has to be revenue at a lower cost. For years, we have followed that line of logic in the mail and with our players clubs.

Today, more and more of our messaging channels are measurable. Suddenly, the advertising manager and media buyers have to learn the tools of data science. The ongoing migration of a simple tool like Google’s Universal Analytics to G4 is likely the most talked about today, but as casino advertisers invest more of their media dollars into digital, understanding and filtering data becomes as important to them as understanding the copy and images that will create the desired response.

If you’re not already dabbling in data, it’s time to take small steps.

Some operators benefit from planning and analysis and business intelligence resources, but for those who do not, all is not lost.

Ask the questions that will help you grow the business.

Profitable Customers founder Mary Loftness has been (in her words) “crunching casino data” for 22 years. In that time, she can say the answers have always been in the “why.” In her view, you must understand why business was the way it was yesterday, last week, last month, and last year. You must understand why expenses were such or why the players club is growing or not. Asking the why will lead you to the data that will help you make the decisions to continue growth.

For White, this takes the form of trending reports, which he says would be his first step to understanding a property’s operation. In my experience, it was something we called the segmentation report, which also looked at trends by segment—a snapshot of offers, redemptions, revenue, and profitability.

As you can see, the solutions can vary, but all intend to find the story that will lead to growth.

Agree on the meaning.

One of the most important steps we can take is to ensure everyone understands the meaning of the data we rely on. While, as an industry, we have metrics that are universally accepted, new streams of data are coming into play, giving us new points to measure (or not). An obvious example is social media. When we first started using social media, we often created report after report of likes and shares, but with no real value to the measurement. I can remember website reports touting page views! Likewise, traditional media buys solely based on impressions, cost per point, and GRPs have lost their luster.

Understanding the data that results from our actions and what those measurements mean to the business is a must. More importantly, everyone involved must agree on the value of that data.

We have all been in situations where departments might present different reports based on the same information. The data might not match up or might be completely different. The result can lead you to a very unclear story of how the property is performing. The leadership team must define success metrics, and then everything should cascade from there.

Format for your audience. Data visualization may be one of the most valuable modern marketing skills.

Once you start your data journey, make an appointment to revisit everything in 90 days to understand if the priorities are still the same. Whether you are doing everything in Excel or have partnered with a third party, this checkpoint can ensure you are consistently working with the most relevant and valuable data.

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