Increasing engagement with your customer base is a challenge for every business, but those working in the online casino industry have one of the toughest challenges of the lot. The online casino industry has become increasingly crowded over the past decade, to the extent that there simply aren’t enough players to go around. In previous years, the casinos would battle each other with ever-more generous (and complicated) bonus offers to attract and retain players, but new rules and regulations have made such a strategy difficult to pursue during the last few years.
The casinos do have some reasons to stay positive, however; the widespread return of online gambling to the United States continues apace, and more than half of the countries 50 states have now announced plans to legalize online gambling in some form. It has been almost three years since the first online real money casino in Pennsylvania launched, and player numbers are still rising, suggesting that there many more American players are waiting to join the online casino boom once legislation is passed by their state.
Many of the states which have already begun to permit online casino gaming have copied European style regulations, meaning that bonus offers alone are unlikely to be enough to promote player engagement over the medium to long-term. Whilst bonus offers do continue to be offered, the casinos have come up with several new ways of attracting new customers; here are some of the most successful:
Bonus offers were by far the most popular and effective means of attracting and retaining players in the early years of the online casino industry. Unfortunately, some players begun to find ways of exploiting these bonuses, forcing the casinos to enforce increasingly strict and complicated rule sets to prevent such abuse. This eventually led to some legitimate players being caught out after failing to read the complex terms and conditions attached to such offers, which culminated in an intervention by regulators to force casinos to simplify the bonus deals that they offered.
This was probably a good thing, but some players have expressed their dismay at the rapidly shrinking number of promotional benefits available to them. Typical bonus offers are now often restricted to just new players, whilst existing players are targeted by many kinds of alternative promotion instead. Examples of alternative promotions include sweepstakes, where players can win free bets, spins, or bonus funds, and races, where players are encouraged to try and win as much as possible during a set period with cash prizes being paid to the luckiest players.
Referral schemes are currently all the rage, too – share your link with your friends via social media, and you will receive a credit in your casino account each time somebody uses the link to sign up at the casino. The best casinos have been especially generous with their refer-a-friend offers – take Unibet, for example, who offer $50 for every friend that you refer.
Traditional laptops and PCs are now the smallest device category amongst online casino players, so it’s perhaps unsurprising that many online casinos now offer a dedicated mobile app as well as a standard website. Mobile apps can offer a far richer and more immersive experience than a simple website, partly because the entire display is used by default when using a mobile app. This has several other advantages, too – it is far easier to create a straightforward and coherent user interface when you have the whole screen to play with.
Mobile apps ensure that players stay within the casino environment for longer, whereas customers who are playing via a website may spot another tab and decide to switch off at any time. Users of mobile apps are far more likely to create a list of their favorite games, and after they have spent the time putting such a list together, they are then much more likely to return to that same casino next time they play.
Current casino applications are already excellent, but their quality and functionality are still increasing and improving at a rapid rate. As devices continue to become more powerful in the future, we are likely to see a corresponding increase in the speed and capabilities of online casino apps as well.
The younger generations who are now just beginning to explore online casino games have grown up playing incredibly deep and detailed video games. Some of the biggest gambling software studios have taken note of that fact and begun to try and implement some of the elements of modern video games into their online slots and other gambling games.
You only must look at the popularity of mobile games such as Candy Crush and Ark of War to see that the millennials and Generation Z are more than willing to spend money on mobile games, and the online casinos would very much like to get in on some of that action. Games such as Play’N’Go’s “Gemix” incorporated several aspects of popular mobile games such as levels, coin collecting, and collectable modifiers that change as you progress through the slots many different worlds. As long as such games are popular, it seems likely that this “gamification” of the online slots market will continue in the future. If a player feels that they have gained a strong benefit in an online slot by investing money at their favorite casino, they are much more likely to carry on playing with that same casino in the future, rather than investing in a fresh account elsewhere.