James King, Chief Marketing Officer at ConquerCasino.com (ProgressPlay), says that sportsbooks can learn a lot from online casinos when it comes to driving loyalty
Online sportsbook operators are undoubtedly innovative, you just have to look at the products launched over the past few years to see that operators enjoy pushing the boundaries and taking the player experience to the next level.
In-play wagering, bet-editing, cash out and custom bets are just some of the game-changing features and tools that have hit the market of late.
Indeed, it could be argued that online sportsbook operators have done more than any other betting vertical to deliver ground-breaking upgrades to their players.
But one area where online casino operators have taken the lead is loyalty, and developing schemes and programmes that keep players coming back for more.
The majority of sportsbooks do offer some form of player loyalty scheme, from points to tiers via cash back, prizes, enhanced odds and free bets.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with these methods – indeed, many online casino sites use similar programmes to reward their players.
That said, a growing number of casino operators are looking to loyalty schemes as a way of standing out from their rivals and offering even more value to their players.
This is certainly true of those that have taken inspiration from the video game world and built programmes that require players to undertake missions to earn trophies and rewards.
In some cases, players earn points for carrying out a range of tasks within the casino – signing in, depositing, withdrawing, unlocking certain features in the game, etc.
Points are accumulated and once a level has been cleared, a prize is unlocked. This could be free spins or bonus money, or the chance to have a spin on a special prize wheel.
Others have taken cash back loyalty schemes and revolutionised them by removing the wagering requirements that would traditionally be attached to such rewards.
Online sportsbook operators simply haven’t moved the needle in the same way?. Why? Because until now other areas have been identified as being a greater driver of bottom-line.
But as the online sportsbook sector continues to become more competitive, and what were once unique and innovative features become standard, other avenues must be explored.
This is where loyalty schemes come into their own.
The power is in the player’s hands, and they want to be rewarded for remaining loyal to one brand over all others.
Sportsbook operators targeting millennial and younger player groups, as well as their current customers, will soon learn that traditional loyalty schemes will not suffice.
So what can sports betting brands learn from online casino operators when it comes to loyalty, and is there anything they can deploy themselves today?
The first thing is to think outside of the box and be more fun. Some of the best casino loyalty schemes are, frankly, a little crazy but they work incredibly well.
For example, a new customer could start with a player who earns different coloured boots every time they clear a level.
Players could earn points for undertaking certain activities within the book – betting on different sports, placing different types of bets, winning certain bets, etc. Every time a task is complete, they could also receive a trophy to add to their cabinet. And when each loyalty level is cleared, they not only earn a boot but a free bet.
The second thing is to deliver genuine value. It’s ok offering free bets but if they come with high wagering requirements, they are unlikely to offer genuine value to the player.
Operators could consider lowering wagering requirements or doing away with them entirely. In short, take a quality over quantity approach to rewards and prizes.
In essence, it is about developing a loyalty programme that is unique and interesting, and that offers move value – whether in terms of fun or reward – then what is already out there.
Online casino operators are doing a great job of this at the moment, and online sportsbook brands can certainly take a page out of their book.
James King – CMO – ConquerCasino.com (ProgressPlay)