Customer Engagement Strategies from the Trenches of Social Gaming

by Apoorv Kashyap and Lee Ashby

Customer engagement is becoming the linchpin in a digital brand’s success. Now that brands have defined and built digital customer experiences, it’s the customer engagement strategies that are allowing customers to stay engaged on the digital platforms, and thus benefiting both sides.

We spoke to Lee Ashby who is a 20-year veteran of customer engagement (many of which have been spent in various social gaming enterprises) about his take on customer engagement and the lessons that can be applied to a wider digital ecosystem in order to create greater customer engagement.

Customer engagement is not a new concept, by any means, nor is it unique to the digital world. In fact, it’s one of the key reasons why physical retail stores are stacked and shelved in a certain way. To find the most obvious thing, customers are required to traverse to the back of the store. Loyalty programs have also been central to customer engagement strategies for some time.

What makes social gaming a bit more unique than the CE of the past is that there is no direct product sell to the customer. Instead, it is the overall time spent on the digital channel which maximises the revenue generation for the provider. Yes, the better and more engaging an online game is, the more likely it will keep the players playing. But there is a strong need to fill the gap where the customers need to be engaged in more ways than just the games they play, to make sure they keep coming back and continue relishing the platform in its entirety.

There is a strong need to fill the gap where the customers need to be engaged in more ways than just the games they play.

1. Recommendations

Lee believes that, after all, there are similarities between Amazon, Youtube and social gaming platforms. There are a number of products or games to offer, and in order to keep the player’s attention, it is important to understand the player’s persona and recommend her the next best game.

We know Amazon and Youtube are among the most successful platforms harnessing the power of our behaviour on the web and recommending the right content in real-time.

Successful gaming studios are constantly creating new games and features, basically more content. However, to simply push these to the customer would create a bad experience. Hence many ‘games’ never see launch on a vast scale. They have been tested on smaller cohorts checking that the perceived metrics get hit first. Just as Amazon recommendations are an evolving tool, each data tag from the customer goes into creating the next best experience.

It’s the same with offers and promotions. A successful social game might have over 100 active campaigns, each targeting a specific customer segment. The recommendation feeds into what campaigns the customer sees, allowing greater uplift.

These kinds of real-time recommendations are a product of a lot of machine learning and data engineering, and they can’t be scaled by the rules-based rigid systems of the past.

2. Treasure quests and rewards

Lee has a tremendous amount of experience formulating creative strategies for customer engagement, based on reward mechanisms.

Providing an interactive experience outside the core gaming loop allows us to understand the customer at a deeper data level. As players earn their rewards, that behavioural information can get fed back into the reward they receive. Social gaming studios can use a creative license to make quests, challenges and rewards really come alive. However, fundamentally, it’s about a customer earning and making that journey to completion.

We can tell them how far along they are, and we can make that journey suddenly jump out and surprise them with spot rewards, but the goal of the customer is to complete…as well as play.

A great example of rewards is Hotels.com. Their core promotional message in all their advertising is not the fact you can book a hotel for the night. It’s that you can get a night free when you book 9 nights. Already training the user about the reward and getting them to adjust their behaviour.

3. Building a community

Among the most important lessons that Lee shared with us is about the importance of building dynamic “communities” within any digital platform. Community is the new word for customer segmentation. Static customer segments that were the staple diet of a bygone era of marketing is now being replaced by more dynamic communities that your digital platform can build, based on the digital behavioural data of your visitors.

eToro is a great example of building communities, in that it allows users to follow other users that share their own risk profiles. Lee expects we will see a lot of community-driven programs disrupting traditional digital vendors in 2019-20.

No wonder Data and AI is powering. Each day websites collate 5-10 terabytes of data from the digital behaviours of its visitors. The challenge is to be able to put this data to improve customer engagement with the strategies like the ones discussed above.

If any of this resonates with you, email me (Apoorv Kashyap) and share your thoughts or experience with your own customer engagement projects.

About Syntasa

Syntasa’s platform simplifies technology challenges by creating a modern smartphone-like “app” framework for creating and managing data, applying complex AI models to the data, and then sending the actionable insights back to web and business applications.

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Apoorv Kashyap

Head of Customer Value Advisory at Syntasa

Apoorv Kashyap heads the CxO Advisory at Syntasa, passionately working with clients to infuse Artificial Intelligence technologies into the core of their business value streams. AK’s background is in Digital, Data, and Analytics as a Practitioner for 20 years across the US, UK and EMEA. In recent years AK has consistently delivered over 10x of cumulative ROI from successfully guiding AI-powered Digital Transformations across clients in Banking & Financial Services, Telecommunications, and Manufacturing.

Lee Ashby

Customer Engagement Development Manager at The Stars Group

Lee has worked in the publishing and iGaming industries for nearly 20 years. In those 20 years he has seen how important customer engagement is to successful products and companies. He enjoys sharing ideas and observations, as well as discovering more about data, tech and how using the right tools allows teams to fully understand the most important of stakeholder - your customer.

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