Entering 2018, next-generation digital insights platform ContentSquare has secured £30 million in series B funding. ContentSquare seeks to become the leading user insights technology for all businesses, developing profitable UX actions that increase engagement, reduce operational costs and maximise conversion rates.
SBC speaks to UK Managing Director Duncan Keene, on ContentSquare’s platform dynamics and UX vision for the saturated gaming/betting sectors.
SBC: Hi Duncan great to catch up. Why are user-experience (UX) dynamics and competencies so valued in 2018, by all digital stakeholders?
Duncan Keene: To put it simply, user experience (UX) is a key differentiator for brands in any sector. The gaming and eSports market is a crowded one, with Goldman Sachs valuing the eSports industry at a huge $500 million in 2016 and predicting the market to grow at 22% annually.
It often comes down to two objectives. One is creating a better user experience, the other is making more money and increasing conversion and brands are finally waking up to the fact that a basic understanding of visitors is not enough to achieve these goals. They need to really understand why and how they behave. This gives them the opportunity to test based on behaviours, not intuition. For any brand, employing UX analytics in the right way can be the difference between placing a bet or not, between choosing an accumulator or moving off of the site. With the nature of gaming sites fluid, the UX needs to be just right to persuade users to place bets and navigate.
SBC: In 2018 it appears that the UX debate has shifted beyond initial design dynamics? How does UX now impact further core corporate functions such as retention and operational disciplines?
DK: Retention is critical for gaming brands in 2018. Contentsquare analysis shows the sector has a particularly volatile user base, with average bounce rates more than twice as high (35% compared to 15%) than other industries. In a highly competitive market, the consequences of a poor customer experience are often grave, with customers less likely to return than ever. Offers and incentives are a great way to generate traffic, but a seamless customer experience is what makes people return again and again.
However, the regulated nature of the industry can generate significant friction in the user journey. Users have to absorb several pieces of information and fill out forms which are often not designed with the customer in mind. Users don’t know where to look, and they often become frustrated. And this is where many gambling sites see customers drop off the radar.
A better user experience is key in increasing retention, many operators have a betting site as well as a casino site. If customers are able to use both and seamlessly move between the two for example, they are more likely to spend more and stay on the site for longer, thus the gaming site retains that customer.
SBC: ContentSquare seeks to deliver operationally smart UX functions and data. To date, why have digital enterprises, found it hard to apply consistent and effective UX frameworks for their operations?
DK: Gaming is an incredibly competitive market and a majority of operators simply just copy others. If one aspect of the site seems to work for a competitor, it’s likely it is going to get copied by another operator. This means that very few aspects of user experience are actually based on what their own users react to. Combine lack of data-driven decisions with traditional analytics that do not offer depth or speed to insight and it is very difficult for brands to explain the how and why their digital and app visitors behave the way they do. It also limits the effectiveness of their multivariate testing as they are simply taking a stab at what might be a useful hypothesis to test.
Traditional analytics simply do not provide definitive answers to questions such as ‘do you know why conversion increased or decreased on a given day?’ Most teams use traditional analytics tools to inform their optimisation decisions, but technologies such as Google Analytics or heat mapping tools only provide a limited overview of visitor behaviours. Much of it becomes a change of mindset as well as a technology change when it comes to improving UX.
SBC: Leading ContentSquare’s UK initiatives, you have highlighted UK betting and gaming as a sector of particular interest. What intricacies does ContentSquare see in this market and its current trends?
DK: Gaming sites are complex and dynamic with a huge amount of visual content. Unlike an ecommerce site where users can see clearly what they are looking for, there can be everything from videos to spinning roulette wheels which can easily distract users and make it difficult to focus on one piece of content. This makes these sites the worst place for traditional analytics as these basic technologies cannot provide the granular information required to see how users behave and interact with different pieces of content.
SBC: From your personal experience, what advice would you give betting sector stakeholders, when rethinking or re-evaluating internal UX strategies?
DK: Stop being a sheep and become a leader! It’s time for betting and gaming sites to focus on their own optimisations strategies instead of copying their competitors. A UX analytics platform takes the guesswork out of optimisation and provides the granular level of detail that egaming companies need to inform not only their UX but also their A/B testing. Look at your own visitor base and use your own data to drive your roadmap. If you are slow to surface to the insight, you’ll get left behind.
Finally, how do you see ContentSquare growing its services within the UK and EU in the coming months?
DK: It’s going to be an exciting year for ContentSquare. We have just won £29.87 ($42m) in series B funding and also released our AI Auto-Zone product at the start of the year. Our goal is to become a leader in digital experience insights and help organisations improve their UX and empower their digital teams. Following the launch of Auto-Zone, we will continue to focus on the development of our AI offering as the core of our product. We currently have 70 developers and we plan on investing more in this team, adding data scientists and talents that can improve the solution.
We also plan to expand internally as brands all over the world are looking to improve their UX and dealing with digital transformation. Our latest office has just opened in Germany in addition to our offices in London, New York and Paris. We will continue to invest in new offices around Europe and Asia as our team expands.