Coral is one of the UK’s largest bookmaking and gaming brands, with more than 1,800 high street shops and a growing online and mobile proposition. 

Social media is central to the company’s marketing strategy, particularly when it comes to improving customer loyalty.

To find out more I spoke to Coral’s head of social marketing, Tania Seif, who will also be speaking at Marketing Week’s upcoming Data Storytelling Conference.

Tania’s talk will focus on personalisation and the customer experience, so our conversation broadly focused on this topic.

How is the team structured? And which social media tools do you use?

I manage a team of three community managers who work from 8.30am to 10.30pm seven days a week on a shift pattern.

Obviously the peak times for our activity are evenings and weekends because we’re in the sports business.

In terms of tools, we use Crimson Hexagon, Pulsar, Conversocial, Tweetdeck, Google Analytics and Twitter and Facebook stats.

Coral’s social team

What metrics do you look at on a day-to-day basis?

It’s very much dependent on what the activity is. On social media we split our activity into paid advertising and content.

Paid ads are when we show a specific offer and we want someone to take an action. 

In that case we’d be looking at standard metrics such as clickthrough rates and how it translates into different behaviours, then we’d also track things like customer lifetime value or cost per depositor.

With content we’re looking at how well it performed on a cost per interaction rate and how paid ads might impact that, and we also look at social referrals.

On top of that we do a lot of social listening to see what people are talking about, and how our audience is interacting with our competitors’ content.

How do you use customer data to customise social media marketing?

We do this in two ways. Firstly we use our CRM database to target our paid media using Custom Audiences, so this means our ads are only going to our specific customer base.

So a casino ad only goes to a gaming customer or a football ad only goes to a football customer.

Also, new customer offers only go to people who aren’t existing fans or followers, as 80% of them have placed a bet with Coral in the past month.

That’s highly targeted, very effective and reduces media wastage. 

It ensures our messaging is very relevant to our customers and based on their betting behaviour with us previously.

When it comes to our broader content strategy, we also conduct market research and look at performance data to inform our content and strategy, but that’s not on a customer-by-customer basis. 

We have to make assumptions about the trends across our community and across our whole competitor set.

We certainly can’t personalise content to our 300,000 followers, because if we assume that up to 15,000 people are seeing any one tweet then we’ve got to be quite broad and ensure it’s relevant to everyone.

Which social network is most important for Coral?

We use them in different ways. Twitter is very important from a real-time point of view, we’ve definitely found it’s the go-to place for people who are watching sports on TV and using social media.

It’s highly relevant because we have a very interesting story to tell before, during and after a live event in terms of the way the market has moved and so forth.

We do find that Facebook works very well for paid advertising, particularly around the CRM space that I’ve been talking about.

It has a huge reach in terms of audience and that’s where we have the most success in terms of paid advertising.

How do you track/measure how the work you’re doing is impacting the customer experience?

It is very difficult. At the moment we do it through a quarterly survey, where we ask people about their experience with Coral and our products.

Because we’re multichannel we also have the issue of tying up how customers have interacted with us online, on mobile and then in-store.

This survey does help to give us an overview of all three channels.

We also use Google Analytics to track referral traffic, bounce rates and how long people are staying on the site as that’s a good indicator of the quality of the traffic from social.

This is also reflected in an increased wallet share or a lower cost per depositor.

How do you create an agile way of working while also ensuring you adhere to gambling regulations?

We have specific procedures and processes in place to ensure we’re operating within the law.

There’s age gating on Twitter and Facebook so we know our community are all over 18, and because our ads are going to existing customers we know they’ve already passed verification.

In terms of the content, we have all the necessary T&Cs and stipulations, and Coral is part of the Senet Group which is a voluntary body setup by the gambling industry.

Some of the reactionary content is editorial, so where something doesn’t have an offer or a link to the website there’s a little bit more scope for us to mention that content on social media.

Which of your ad campaigns are you most proud of and why?

Our Coral Cheltenham Festival campaign for last year is something we’re very excited about. It won the best social marketing campaign for our industry in the EGR Awards.

It also did a huge amount in changing perceptions that fun and interactive content can impact on the bottom line versus something that’s offer-led.

The campaign delivered a 470% increase in socially referred traffic to the website versus the previous four weeks, and more than 80% of that was from the profitable mobile segment.

Another example is some paid ads we’ve been running for Coral Connect.

We use our database to show Connect offers to Facebook users, as 43% of our social media fan base has a Connect card and 53% have used it in the last two weeks, which is an increase of 15% since January 2014.

Buy tickets to the Data Storytelling Conference to hear more about Coral’s personalisation strategy and from other brands including Royal Mail, The Economist and British Airways.