Personalisation and gamification: The new generation of online casinos

In just a couple of decades the remote gambling sector has risen from nowhere to be a multi-billion pound business which, according to official figures, contributes over £5 billion a year in terms of the UK’s gross annual yield, some 39% of the total amount generated by all kinds of gambling.

Within gambling sector more broadly, one of the most competitive areas of all is in the world of online casinos. The market is a crowded one, with gaming brands big and small competing for a share of the huge revenue on offer. But how are these brands aiming to attract and retain this huge consumer audience?

The customer experience is key to winning and growing a loyal following – and there are some incredible innovations taking place to go above and beyond to deliver the best. Online casino brands have two very powerful tools to make this happen: personalisation and gamification. Gaming sites aren’t the only ones doing this – in fact, these two strategies are also taking the retail world by storm.

But as sites that by definition provide entertainment, online casinos are perhaps one step ahead of other industries in this regard. So let’s look at how they’re leading the field to deliver a personalised, gamified customer experience.

How online casinos make it personal

Personalisation, as the word suggests, is making the whole gaming experience a uniquely individual process. Few can have missed the news that big data is going to increasingly shape the way we live our lives, both now and in the future – and online casino personalisation is a perfect example of it in action.

Every time a player goes online at a site, their every action is recorded and the data is saved. This includes how they navigate round the site, which games they go to first, how long they play, how much they gamble and win – even which kind of slots games they favour playing.

The most sophisticated online casinos can then do some intense number and data crunching to build up a very detailed profile of the player in question. This isn’t just of a very obvious benefit to the casino – it will also provide a more tailored gaming experience for the player themselves. For example:
  • Welcome back messages – if the player is returning to play for a second time
  • Bespoke homepages – on the main page, presenting games the player had played before
This combines to transform the online playing experience into one in which the player is valued as an individual, just as if they were going to their favourite land-based casino and being greeted at the door by their name before being led straight to the games of their choice.

It’s easy to see that the higher the level of personalisation, the more valued the player will feel and the stronger the bond that will be developed with the casino in question. What’s more, the majority of consumers expect personalisation as a type of service, because it helps them feel more recognised as an individual.

Personalisation is by no means a new technique. After all, we’re all used to receiving junk mail informing us by name that we’ve been specially selected for some offer or other. But the digital age means that, compared with the blunt instrument that it used to be, this version can be used with infinitely more precision.

Gamification in gambling

Gamification hinges on a simple human truth. Psychologically, humans like to compete and rewarded for our actions – therefore, gaming techniques are a key way to attract and retain customers.

This is where gambling brands have an advantage, as their products and services inherently involve playing games and earning rewards. Some of the incentives players are given are casino bonuses, free spins, comp points and loyalty rewards. While these rewards look differently, they all have the same objective: if players perform an activity, they’ll be rewarded for it.

After all, visiting an online casino is not just about playing games and winning money. Gamification is a technique that, like personalisation, can foster great loyalty in customers – despite using very different triggers to achieve its aim. Fundamentally, players are likely to return to casinos where gamification techniques such as bonuses are in practice – because they know that new and exciting experiences may await them, not to mention surprising ways to win.

So there may be special games or tournaments that players find themselves eligible to enter, or loyalty schemes that allow them to build up credits towards, or simply to be included in thanks to their regular play.

Gamification works best when used alongside personalisation. For some real-world examples, one only has to look at one very popular online casino in the UK, where it’s immediately clear how many exciting games there are to play. This site also plays on exclusivity, dangling the carrot of the elite players’ lounge before users – making clear the bonuses and rewards on offer.

It’s the perfect example of how personalisation and gamification can work in tandem to enhance the customer experience.

Where next?

The onward march of both technology and social media over the last few years have both been instrumental in increasing the sophistication of gamification techniques – making it an even more powerful tool, especially when combined with personalisation.

Arguably, personalisation is an even more effective technique, but one that must be used with care. There has to be absolute confidence that the data held for an individual is robust. After all, getting it wrong and delivering messages based on false information will have quite the opposite to the desired effect – or worse still, lead to financial penalties.

That said, increasing sophistication in data capture techniques, and increasingly accurate algorithms governing what happens with that data, mean that this may not soon be an issue.

So we can expect to see the online casino experience continue to become ever more refined until, perhaps, every visit to every site becomes a uniquely bespoke experience.

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