Avoiding common e-mail program problems
E-mail has become a key component to mobile marketing. Many casino e-mail campaigns that I have managed report, on average, that 70 percent of total opens now happen on mobile devices (55 percent on a cell phone/15 percent on a tablet). Going forward, the foundation for all casino mobile and digital marketing programs is the low-cost and high-reward casino e-mail program. Indeed, it’s hard to imagine launching a casino loyalty app without first having a finely tuned casino loyalty e-mail program.
However, creating and maintain an e-mail marketing program can be quite a challenge. To start, an inexperienced casino operator’s first inclination is to use the wrong e-mail platform, which severely limits how successful they can be with building e-mail casino loyalty programs. Many smaller casinos looking for inexpensive e-mail platform options first turn to service providers such as MailChimp and ConstantContact, only to find that neither works well with businesses involved with wagering. A casino that collects data manually at the players club is problematic for these small business e-mail systems providers, who are more likely to cut off service than deal with spam complaints and bad addresses.
Your casino needs to work with an enterprise e-mail platform, specifically one that has automation and integration capabilities to reduce your workload. But even then, vigilance is required to make sure your e-mail marketing programs meet stringent enterprise platform requirements.
For example, all e-mail programs are “opt-in” and permission-based. There is a misconception that you can own an e-mail address and therefore the right to send to it—not true unfortunately. Yahoo Mail likely controls 30-40 percent of your player database. Gmail typically gets the same share. That means two Internet Service Providers (ISPs) are controlling 60-70 percent of your players inboxes… which means you have to listen to their rules. They have the right to block, not deliver, deliver to the junk folder or whatever they feel is justified when it comes to casino e-mails and we casino marketers have no control over that, other than to show them we are respecting their subscribers. On the Yahoo! postmaster page “Bulk E-Mail Industry Standards and Best Practices,” it states: “Consider sending a reconfirmation e-mail to inactive subscribers periodically. Or just remove them entirely. Sending e-mail to users who are not reading them, or who mark them as spam, will hurt your delivery metrics and reputation.” Gmail also has a postmaster page called “Bulk Senders Guidelines,” that states: “The following methods of address collection are not considered ‘opt-in’ and are not recommended: Using an e-mail address list purchased from a third-party. Setting a checkbox on a web form or within a piece of software to subscribe all users by default (requiring users to explicitly opt-out of mailings).” This means don’t use data append services to collect e-mail addresses and make sure your player knows they are signing up to receive e-mails from the casino. These service basically want you to use the “Golden Rule”… just imagine how you’d like to be treated and treat your customers the same. It’s actually a good rule
Another issue to stay on top of is the problem of “e-mail fatigue.” I’ve seen many casinos send and then send again when their promotion isn’t doing well. Their solution is to just hammer the e-mail list until the player on the other end responds. This is a bad mentality for managing an e-mail program…. you will burn out your player and they will feel overloaded with the casino’s e-mail promotions and offers. The end result is a very high unsubscribe rate or, even worse, spam complaint rate. The best programs are creating value and set the expectation and respect what the player signed up for (if that was communicated at signup).
Finally, your e-mail program can’t begin if it doesn’t start. The players club staff controls the success of your e-mail program. If they aren’t asking the player for an e-mail address or correctly entering it, your e-mail relationship never begins. How do you get a player’s e-mail address after they sign up for the players club? SMS (text messaging) is a fantastic e-mail capture/recapture tool. When you send to an e-mail address for the first time, it will either get delivered or hard bounce (rejected as a nonexistent e-mail address). If you have a smart multichannel platform that can react to a bad e-mail address by sending the player a text asking them to reply with a correct e-mail address, you have that opportunity to correct bad addresses.
After spending seven years of my career launching and developing casino e-mail and text message programs, I can say that these are the biggest issues stopping most casinos from having a successful e-mail marketing program. Here are some others:
- Bad data entry by players club staff;
- No value proposition communicated for joining the e-mail program as part of the players club;
- No expectation set for the e-mail program with the player (frequency of sending, types of offers, etc.);
- Lengthy delays from signup to the actual reception of e-mails;
- Multiple players sharing e-mail addresses (causes deployment delays);
- Bogus or inactive e-mails submitted by players to receive a reward;
- Manual and complex processes for setting up variable e-mail campaigns;
- Using the wrong platform (MailChimp, ConstantContact, etc.);
- Suppressing general offers from players (hotel vs. gaming lists);
- Inability to recapture a lost e-mail address
- Converting social followers and fans to e-mail subscribers.