There are few business sectors where web content changes as frequently as online gambling. In the age of in-play betting, not only are odds updated in real time, but customers’ chances of winning big can often boil down to them placing their bets within fractions of a second. It’s a fast-paced industry and, as innovation continues to transform the world of the traditional bookmaker, a highly competitive one too. Maintaining the optimal customer experience – always a hostage to fortune in any gaming scenario – is critical to customer retention. Managing it at break-neck speed requires intelligence, agility and dexterity – and the ever-present ability to identify and respond to evolving customer needs. In the combative market of online gaming, playing guessing games with customer experience is a gamble that’s just not worth taking.

It’s little wonder that operators across the global gaming industry are increasingly investing in the development of customer experience optimisation (CXO) strategies. The most progressive are using composites of multivariate testing, personalisation, segmentation and behavioural targeting to leverage customer data and drive engagement, revenue and long-term business value. One such advocate of the CXO approach is Paddy Power, the UK’s third biggest online bookmaker and one of the largest online gaming businesses in Britain and Ireland. The company also has a growing international footprint, with established operations in Italy and Australia, and with an extended B2B business offering white-label services in partnership with PMU in France and with British Columbia Lottery Corporation (BCLC) in British Columbia.

The Paddy Power portfolio is divided into Sportsbook and eGaming, with brands in poker, casino, bingo and games sitting alongside its high profile sports betting product. Customer interaction is supported by a combination of customer service call centres and an expanding retail presence that now exceeds 550 stores – but the majority of Paddy Power’s revenues are generated online. Moreover, its online business is divided further, with all brands delivered across a variety of channels; desktop, mobile, tablet and applications. With such a broad portfolio, spanning brands, territories and platforms, delivering an optimal and unified customer experience in a fast-moving marketplace is highly challenging.

In 2009, Paddy Power partnered with Maxymiser, the global leader in unified CXO, to develop and implement a long-term CXO strategy across its full portfolio. The programme is now a central part of the company’s online marketing operations and plays a crucial role in customer acquisition and retention. “Our primary objective is to ensure we always give our customers the best online experience when they interact with our brands,” says Craig Martin, Conversion Optimisation Executive, Paddy Power. “With Maxymiser, we can establish what that ‘best experience’ looks like by serving multiple variations of content. Our second aim is to grow revenues and increase the customer lifetime value. When you get things right, those objectives go hand-in-hand. Maxymiser helps us to get it right.”

Multiplayer Platform

The overriding objectives of CXO appear simple, but beneath the façade lies a complexity that requires a sophisticated and agile approach to generate reliable customer insight. The nature of online gaming is that customers rarely commit to one single device; a user will typically fluctuate between desktop, mobile and tablet devices, but will naturally expect a consistent cross-channel experience. This makes for a challenging testing environment. “Given the pace of our market, it’s important that we’re able to manage multiple campaigns simultaneously,” says Craig. “We have a multiplicity of brands, platforms and territories and we need to ensure our campaigns touch all of those customer points. There is a common perception within the industry that you can only run one test at a time – but that is simply not the case. We have proven that with Maxymiser it’s possible to implement a unified optimisation strategy that can test campaigns across mobile and desktop platforms, spanning different territories, and drive significant gains across the business.”

To underpin such a complex programme, Paddy Power works in close partnership with Maxymiser to develop structured optimisation roadmaps for each product. “We have multiple roadmaps for our brands. There are separate roadmaps per acquisition channel, retention channel, device, brand and territory. With individual plans for sportsbook and gaming, the number of roadmaps we operate is easily in double digits. To manage these, you need a pretty strong set of underlying numbers – because testing priorities is crucial. It’s about weighing up the potential benefits and opportunity cost of doing specific campaigns for individual channels, as well as those that will give us the best customer experience and ROI.”

A numbers game

Paddy Power places huge emphasis on the importance of data – and relies on its heritage in this area to inform its optimisation campaigns. “We are a very strong company in terms of statistics, modelling, risk and reward,” says Craig. “We have a large risk department and we leverage our core competencies with data to ensure we believe what we see when we test. You have to jump the hurdle well. Rather than basing decisions on gut instinct, we base them on data and nothing else. You have to stick to the maths – numbers cannot lie in the way that gut feelings can.

“We’ve worked with Maxymiser to develop an unbelievably strict and thorough methodology for testing. The level of complexity on our sites is such that we have to meet major content and technical imperatives with every campaign we run. Content changes so quickly, but we have to make sure that the content the customer sees is correct. At the same time, there is a huge amount of functionality that we cannot afford to fall over. So whenever we test, we have to be 100% certain that we’re showing the right content and that there will be no technical issues. Maxymiser is not only able to deliver at often break-neck speed but, equally as important, we are totally confident in the content and technical reliability of every campaign.”

The strict testing methodology has also proved to be invaluable in helping Paddy Power identify ‘false positives’ – commonly described as the death-knell for optimisation work. “It’s surprising how many people make the mistake of getting a false positive – but our multivariate testing has helped us to avoid them. When we first started our optimisation work, we had our own ideas around false positives – and then Maxymiser came in and helped shore up that belief in what we were doing. The Maxymiser tool is so effective that identifying false positives is now incredibly easy.”

Solo and team sports

Paddy Power has benefitted heavily from the managed service it has received from Maxymiser – most notably around the speed of implementation and the inherent value of working with a partner with substantial experience in the online gaming sector. However, the partnership is not built solely around the managed service – it’s increasingly moving towards a more autonomous self-serve model. “Our roadmaps are split down into managed service and self-serve. Where it’s possible for us to do something in-house, we do, by using Maxymiser’s Visual Campaign Builder tool. But when we require more complex testing, or perhaps the development queues are congested, we leave it to Maxymiser,” says Craig. “As our relationship has evolved, our self-service output has increased markedly. We envisage that it will make up a far bigger proportion of our campaigns in 2015. As a business, everybody tries to be as self-sufficient as possible – and in terms of work, Maxymiser’s Visual Campaign Builder (VCB) tool helps us to do that. VCB is a very simple tool – but it’s a very powerful tool. It’s really easy for us to use and enables us to get tests live very quickly. Most importantly, it’s helped us deliver some real gains.

“But VCB is just one component of what’s become a very strong relationship with Maxymiser. It’s a synergistic partnership where we feed into them what we would like to see – and they are delivering. It’s created a virtuous circle that’s helping us to get to the perfect experience.”

Published on: 4:09PM on 20th February 2015