Money on the Table: Mobile, Contextand Personalization are the Next BigOnline Gaming ChangersChanging Dynamics in Online G...
MAXYMISER    Getting Foundations in Place: Optimizing the Conversion Funnel    A simple maxim for any online business says...
WHITE PAPERonly through testing alternative usability features (such as resolution) that the registration process wasfinal...
MAXYMISER    For instance, imagine that a newly acquired customer deposits £20 and sits down to play his first hands    of...
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Mobile, Context and Personalization are the Next Big Online Gaming Changers

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The online gaming industry has enjoyed steady growth over the past decade, while banks have failed and world and European economies teetered on the edge of collapse. But don't be fooled: the dynamics that shaped the early days of the online gaming industry are quickly fading in the shadows behind stiff new competition, waves of new government regulations, the ascension of new technologies and changing consumer behaviors.

In such an environment, a one-size-fits-all approach to online gaming isn't good enough. Acquiring visitors is an important first step, but converting them into customers, enticing them to return, and encouraging them to spend more time playing and interacting now are activities that are demanding more attention. Such capabilities depend on new insights about customers and understanding their motivations and preferences. Gaming operators need to know in real time whether their gaming experience is exciting, engaging and, at the end of the day, producing successful return on investment.

Such insight and understanding only comes when operators have continuous evolving online and mobile optimization and personalization programs in place. This means monitoring the site’s performance, testing alternative content, analyzing campaign results and adapting the site to the gaming habits of individuals. Otherwise, money will be left on the table.

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Mobile, Context and Personalization are the Next Big Online Gaming Changers

  1. 1. Money on the Table: Mobile, Contextand Personalization are the Next BigOnline Gaming ChangersChanging Dynamics in Online GamingWhile banks have failed and world and European economies teetered on the edge of collapse,the online gaming industry has enjoyed steady growth. Some estimates show the industry at the$30.5 billion mark by 2015. Yet the freewheeling dynamics that shaped the early days of the industryare quickly becoming nostalgic memories.Success and growth have stiffened competition in the marketplace and tightened operating margins forgaming providers. Shifting government regulations are a constant concern that complicates operations.The rise of new and emerging technologies, such as HTML5 and new interfaces, along with changes inonline behavior with a move to mobile, represent an arms race for development. Although new markets anddemographics beckon and promise significant growth opportunities, potential players in each country or innew demographic segments have their own idiosyncrasies, preferences and motivations. In such anenvironment, a one-size-fits-all approach to online gaming contradicts the forces that define it today—andwill continue to do so in the future.In such an evolving environment, the attention of visitors to a gaming site is fleeting at best. Operators areincreasingly watchful of the cost of customer acquisition relative to revenues. Yet acquiring visitors is merelya first step. Converting them into customers, enticing them to return, and encouraging them to spend moretime playing and interacting now depends on gaining new insights about customers and understanding theirmotivations and preferences. You need to know in real time whether your gaming experience is exciting,engaging and, at the end of the day, producing successful return on investment.Such insight and understanding only comes when you have continuous evolving online and mobileoptimization and personalization programs in place. This means monitoring the site’s performance, testingalternative content, analyzing campaign results and adapting the site to the gaming habits of individuals.Otherwise, money will be left on the table.
  2. 2. MAXYMISER Getting Foundations in Place: Optimizing the Conversion Funnel A simple maxim for any online business says that new content will affect conversion rates one way or the other. Powerful A/B and multivariate testing processes can help sites avoid a false step and lift conversion rates to higher levels. Over time, successful site testing becomes integral to evolving site content and adapting the gaming experience so that both stay in step with what customers are looking for. This is very different than redesigning site content based on design opinion and brand forces. Sky Vegas, the UK-based online gaming and sports betting service, wanted to serve up the best possible content on a landing page so that the maximum number of visitors would click through and register on the site and convert into customers. Test Page Using sophisticated testing capabilities, the company compared alternative incentives to start playing, such as cash bonuses, with free cash and other such offers. The content variables were extensive and the different combinations of elements on the landing page were numerous. Over the course of the campaign, the winning combination emerged: Winning Version Sky Vegas conversion rate improved by 20%. The end result saw the Sky Vegas conversion rate improve by 20%. Given the cost of acquiring visitors, the optimized landing page helped Sky Vegas drive down the cost per acquisition (CPA) throughout other portions of the site. Iterative Improvements Layout and design certainly play a big role in creating the excitement and energy that customers encoun- ter when they come to an online gaming site. However, another aspect of the site­ its usability—also — has a powerful effect on the quality of the customer experience and, consequently, conversion rates. For example, users in regulated markets are required to provide extensive identification information in the registration process. This puts significant pressure on gaming providers to make the registration path on their site as straightforward and easy to use as possible while still meeting regulatory mandates. Yet such a modification may not be as simple as shortening the registration form. Customer-driven test- ing recently performed by a market-leading operator revealed that the gaming site’s existing three-page process actually performed better in terms of conversion rates than the first two iterations of a new one- page form. Based on the results of these campaigns, specific revisions and refinements to the usability of the one-page form were implemented and, eventually, it out-performed the three-page process. It was2
  3. 3. WHITE PAPERonly through testing alternative usability features (such as resolution) that the registration process wasfinally optimized. This example illustrates how optimizing new functionality through a comprehensivetesting procedure is just as critical as optimizing the site’s layout and design.Going Beyond Usability to PersonalizationCustomer-driven content and optimized usability features can greatly improve the likelihood of convertingvisitors into customers. However, once users are registered, what will bring them back to the gaming site,and what will motivate them to expand their gaming experience?Developing a deeper understanding of, and stronger relationship with, each customer has traditionallybeen the area of analytics and customer relationship management (CRM) teams, systems, programs andsoftware. The knowledge, data stores and single-customer views that operators have of their customersbased on transaction records aren’t enough anymore. Instead, operators need to gather, analyzeand synthesize a more complete profile of customers based on up-to-date interests from browsinghistories, search terms and many other data points. This more comprehensive data set enablesoperators to dynamically serve content that is specifically geared to the individual customer’s tastes,preferences and cultural inclinations in the specific context.The registration process and pages described above are examples of how pages optimized for layout,design and usability can be taken a step further. They can be personalized to the unique character ofindividual visitors to further strengthen relationships and increase conversion.Current Registration ContextAs visitors arrive at the registration page, their previous browsing history (both online and offline) can beanalyzed and used for personalization. This is important, because a customer who shows interest incasino games may have a very different reaction to the registration form as opposed to a sports bettor.We have seen evidence that suggests there can be differences. So, if, for instance, a customer hasbrowsed the site’s casino games or was referred from an affiliate site that specializes in blackjack, thenimages and design elements that reinforce those interests might be displayed on the periphery of theregistration form. Such images—perhaps blackjack tables, roulette wheels and other not-so-subtlecasino images—send a rather overt message that visitors have found what they are looking for.This level of personalization, achieved through real-time targeting and dynamic content, can also beinvaluable as gaming sites strive to reach across country borders and break into new markets. Theseprinciples can be quickly and easily applied in geo-targeting applications, thereby updating the site to thepreferences of users from different countries, regions and cultures.Should the Call to Action Be the Same for Germans and Spaniards?Some results we have seen suggest that the tone and intent of calls-to-action (CTAs) for France andSpain could be more suggestive and less direct than the head-on approach employed with customersfrom the UK and Germany. Nordic countries are often more concerned with issues like privacy, securityand safety than players in the UK, who often are keen on the competitive nature of gaming, as well as itssocial and entertainment aspects. These and other personalized considerations reinforce with potentialcustomers that the marketers understand who they are and what they are looking for. The likelihood ofconversion and a lasting relationship improves tremendously.Further Down the Funnel from CPA to LTVMost operators agree that CPA and lifetime value (LTV) are becoming inextricably linked. Conversion ata sustainable CPA is always going to be important, but also ensuring that the maximum LTV is extractedagainst the particular traffic source is now part of that decision.Bringing these two important metrics together is the job of the customer experience team within themost forward-thinking operators. Combining transactional data with contextual in-play data and sessionbrowsing allows marketers to personalize content around each individual customer. 3
  4. 4. MAXYMISER For instance, imagine that a newly acquired customer deposits £20 and sits down to play his first hands of poker with your brand. He promptly loses because he sat at a table with players much better than him. As a result, this one-time casual cash player might abandon your brand, never to return because of what he perceives as a bad experience. Imagine, then, a different and more positive outcome had your organization used powerful personalization capabilities to determine the player’s experience as he registered and direct him to a table at which he would be more competitive. Mobility—Back to the Future? Probably the hottest topic in online gaming—and the online world in general—is mobile. Going mobile first is now being seen as the way for new business to start. Smartphones and tablets, along with myriad other mobile devices, are transforming how, when and where users interact with the site. In fact, a cohesive mobile strategy has become an imperative for gaming operators. With some operators already generating up to 40% of their revenue from mobile platforms, this is one of the biggest opportunities for growth and further engagement with customers today. In a certain sense, mobile simply accentuates the importance of customer experience optimization and personalization because of certain limitations (or opportunities to iterate) based on the restrictions of the mobile experience, including: • Smaller display screens on mobile devices increase the importance of displaying content that will immediately engage the viewer. • Screen resolution varies widely – responsive design is a way to tackle this, but finding the right design of a page per resolution requires testing. • Broadband wireless connection speeds can be slow and spotty today, and network latencies can make large downloads aggravating. • Despite the obvious technical differences, users still measure their mobile experience against the yardstick of a hardwired desktop environment. Coming up short simply opens the door to a competitor that can take your place as the customer’s site and experience of choice. For these reasons, the underlying principles of optimization and personalization beyond just conver- sion take on even greater importance. The customer’s mobile experience may differ decisively from the desktop, but for gaming operators the optimization process does not. Perfecting the mobile experience is still about testing, comparing alternative elements and functionality, dynamically adapting personalized content, and making sure all of this works within the confines of smaller screens, touch interfaces and the shorter attention spans of a mobile user. User-Driven Gaming—The Next Frontier The Internet is an exciting and engaging place for customers of online gaming. And, as online gaming operators have found in recent years, it is a very fluid and fickle place where yesterday’s formula for success can be tomorrow’s false step. In such a marketplace, which is rapidly growing and at the same time becoming dramatically more competitive, operators must search for every edge, not just to survive but thrive. Desktop and mobile optimization, along with advanced personalization, are powerful tools to help suc- cessful online gaming operators quickly size up customers, understand their behaviors and preferences, and deliver an exciting, personalized gaming experience. By dynamically testing your site and adapting its content in real time, you’ll continually learn where there is room for improvement and where new opportunities are emerging to engage customers. This just might be the closest thing to a sure bet in the world of online gaming.4 www.maxymiser.com • info@maxymiser.com • USA +1 212 201 2359 • UK +44 (0) 203 375 0100 • Germany +49 (0) 204 569 4374

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