Former Pinnacle Marketing Director Aly Lalani is one of the key drivers behind the launch of BetRegal.com, a new sportsbetting and gaming brand created to provide its customers with the “highest possible value” in prices. In the fourth diary of this series, Lalani is back to talk about the challenges of building a functional front end for the product.
Having explained the genesis of the brand and defined both the go to market strategy and the beginnings of an acquisition strategy, we were ready to make our move. This takes us to October 2016, where we set a target of having the BetRegal product to market with a functional front end in time for LAC in February 2017. That’s only four months, so it’s an ambitious goal but what better way to re-establish old affiliate relationships and begin developing the brand than with a shiny new product at LAC.
As it happened, it turned out to be more like April 2017 before we were comfortable with a beta version of BetRegal that had a slimmed down product offering and still had some obvious UX inefficiencies. The full product offering was tested and ready to go live with a few trusted affiliates from around July this year. Nine to ten months to turn an idea drying on the back of a napkin into a competitive (from a product offering perspective) igaming product. Still a pretty quick turnaround, right?
Let’s go into this process in some more detail. It started with our decision to choose the iframe solution from EveryMatrix, rather than building the sportsbetting interface ourselves. This was a tough decision but in the end came down to efficiency. Our goal is to get to market ASAP. I have gone through the process of redesigning a sportsbook product, and it’s no easy task.
We knew from the start this would ‘handcuff’ us somewhat on design and user experience, but there was a clear upside – integration using this method would take less than half the time, which clearly satisfied our desire to get to market quickly. The downside, we would have very little control over the fundamental usability aspects of our sportsbook, and would be relying on what Every Matrix defined as their sportsbetting experience to be our own… at least for now.
Okay so the iframe solution takes care of the design and UX work for the sportsbook product, but there are lots of other website elements that we need to design and build. Working with EveryMatrix also allows us a very competitive casino product with games from top providers in the industry like Microgaming and NetEnt. So we need to ensure we build a user friendly, engaging casino lobby.
There are many other pages that also need to be designed and developed, like the guest homepage, promotional pages. Also, there are a ton of content based pages (about us, help, FAQ’s) that will all need to be managed through some sort of CMS. Once we have the front end wire-framed and designed, we will need someone to help us actually build out our designs, and plug in the backend API’s..
Not being overly technical myself, it was difficult to say the least to know where to find someone who could help us out with all of these aspects, especially given our ultra-ambitious timelines. We decided the best way to find someone who could manage this process efficiently is to find someone who has done it before. We approached EveryMatrix and asked for a list of service providers who have integrated their API’s previously. With that list in hand, we arranged initial Skype chats with each to try and find the best partner for us.
In the end, we decided to work with South African based Vegas Kings to help bring our vision to life. We chose Vegas Kings for a couple of reasons. They had done this type of integration with Every Matrix before, so they knew which pitfalls to avoid. They work with some of the largest brands in the industry which is reassuring from a credibility perspective. Perhaps most importantly, they had the skill set to do both the backend API integration with EveryMatrix as well as the front end development of the pages we have designed.
As much as I enjoyed this design phase, and how great it was shaping up to be in our boardroom amongst ourselves, we needed to launch the product to gain crucial customer data – in our opinion the best indicator of which changes we should make and at what priority comes from customer feedback, through both customer support tickets and affiliate feedback. It’s not like we plan to launch the website, cross it off the list and move onto the next task. This website will be a living organism that will continually change and adapt based on the wants and needs of its users.
Fortunately, after extensive work on the product with EveryMatrix, including stringent testing on applying the aggressive management of our pricing model and the connection of the player lobby to game vendors, we were in position to launch the site.
Again, this is where my prior industry connections came to the fore once again, as we were able to quickly get on board with some of the affiliates I have worked with in the past. We had also developed a relationship with iGaming consultancy TAG Media, who we envisioned as conduits to help us kick-start our acquisition efforts by exposing us to a wider group of potential affiliates. TAG Media also proved to be a very valuable resource through the process of integrating and testing our affiliate platform, www.BetRegalaffiliates.com.
In previous diaries, I stressed the importance of finding a European affiliate manager, but the relationship with Tom Galanis and his team at TAG Media has provided us with an effective short term solution. Of course we still plan to hire a full affiliate team, as we see affiliates as a fundamental acquisition channel in the long run.
Rather than worry about hiring affiliate managers right away, we can leverage Tom and his team’s experience and network of affiliate contacts to not only acquire new affiliates, but also to manage them on behalf of BetRegal. This can only be a short term solution as eventually we need to have all acquisition channels managed internally, but I think is feasible for the first while and it helps buy me a little time to focus on the many operational issues that come along with launching a new product.
A few months on, and generally I think we are moving in the right direction. Of course there have been challenges and frustrations, which we will explore in more detail in the next diary, but we are moving forwards. Certainly, as our team gets more accustomed to the EveryMatrix platform, we are learning to address some of the issues that all startups have to deal with.
Stay tuned. BetRegal is starting to make its mark.