Five ways US operators can improve player retention

February 24th 2023

Article in partnership withiGaming-NEXT

With the US iGaming market set to register a CAGR of 17.34% over the next five years and become the largest iGaming market in the world, it is not surprising that the race for customer acquisition has never been more intense.

US operators have been investing huge sums in advertising campaigns, media deals and player bonuses in an attempt to grow their customer base. However few are paying little attention to how they can retain these customers.

Solely focusing on promotional spend to gain new players is a short-sighted approach that overlooks the importance of lifetime value and loyalty, both of which are critical for long-term profitability. As operators begin to recognise this, we explore five ways in which they can improve their customer retention strategies.

Stand out UX/UI design

Across industries the mobile app market is booming. Gaming operators are competing for consumers’ attention, not only against industry rivals but also the retailers, streaming and social media platforms.

Offering a native mobile experience with a seamless interface is essential. The design needs to be intuitive enough for users to easily understand how to play, while also keeping them engaged, and ultimately keeping them spending money.

A study conducted by gaming research firm Eilers & Krejcik (EKG) highlights that adapting interfaces to regional audiences should be key considerations amongst operators. Simply replicating Eurocentric design features and language used by competitors in Europe and the UK does not resonate with US players.

Knowing your audience well is key to successful UX and UI design. In a highly saturated market, user-centric and thoroughly thought-through UX design can set operators apart while driving customer engagement, conversions and retention.

The power of personalisation

In the e-commerce, travel, and media industries, providing bespoke user experiences is commonplace and something that is expected amongst consumers.

You only need to take a look at some of the most successful global brands such as Netflix and Amazon to see that perfectly executed personalisation is at the core of their business.

Gaming operators are yet to really grasp the player loyalty benefits that differentiated experiences can deliver. Utilising insights about the player themselves, their previous gaming behaviours and meta-data enables operators to provide individualised game recommendations, smart bonusing strategies and automated interactions.

This ultimately drives player retention. Being one step ahead of your customer and anticipating their next need eliminates the chance for friction and game abandonment.

It goes without saying that embedding personalisation as part of a customer retention strategy requires investment in the technology behind it. Integrated data platforms and artificial intelligence (AI) are central to delivering seamless, real-time tailored player experiences.

Operators that act fast in this space can guarantee they will stay ahead of the game.

Cross-industry collaborations

We’ve touched on the vast competition iGaming apps face. However, instead of viewing other industries’ products as rivalry, operators should look to cross-industry collaborations as a way to break silos and gain the attention of the wider consumer market.

For example, in a country where sports matches are an integral part of consumers’ lifestyles, why not sell (or give) match tickets to your players directly via your app?

By integrating initiatives like this with their own loyalty programmes and including a comprehensive view of a player’s data, iGaming operators can reduce customer churn and keep players coming back for more.


Leveraging cross-sell opportunities

Few industry experts could have forecast the growth that Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) has experienced since media companies first launched fantasy league products almost 25 years ago.

We’ve seen a few of the large operators including DraftKings and FanDuel benefit from this success and launch their own products in the DFS vertical. However the majority of operators are yet to exploit cross-selling DFS offerings to their existing customer base as a way to strengthen their customer loyalty.

Traditionally, DFS products have high retention and low churn rates as well as high lifetime values. Operators should view DFS as a complementary mechanism that can add value to their central iGaming propositions.

Take the example of LiveScore Bet’s Weekly Squads promotional tool. Why not provide a similar offering, whereby players are rewarded free bets or bonuses based on the performance of their DFS teams?

This acts as a powerful cross-sell opportunity that improves the player experience and drives engagement.

Player convergence

We’ve already mentioned how selling or giving away tickets to sports matches can contribute to driving loyalty. However it doesn’t stop there. There’s more that operators could be doing when it comes to leveraging the convergence of online and offline player interactions to improve retention.

Alongside their mobile app offerings, the majority of operators also have a brick and mortar presence. Seamlessly blending the player experience between both the physical and digital worlds is key to maintaining a strong customer base.

For example, using in-app location tracking features, operators can detect when players are close to their physical premises and send offline promotions.

A free bet or drink while watching their team play are low-spend tactics that enable operators to have a greater number of touchpoints with their customers and keep their brands front of mind versus their competitors.

So while the race for customer acquisition may continue to be operators’ focus in the short term, it goes without saying that retention will become the differentiator.

Those organisations that recognise this and act sooner will stay ahead of the pack. It’s one thing to build an empire, but it requires a different approach to retain it.


Whether it be data platform modernisation and integration, delivering player-centric payments solutions or AI deployment to drive personalisation, Ciklum combines deep sector experience with market-leading technology to support iGaming companies drive long-term, sustainable customer retention strategies.



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