World Cup diary – Finding the volume to ‘absorb’ the sharpest punters on BetRegal, a new sportsbook created to provide its customers with the “highest possible value” in prices, is on the road to Russia for this summer’s FIFA World Cup.

In the fifth diary of this series, the company’s Head of Marketing Aly Lalani discusses avoiding a simple bonusing strategy, reflecting on the ’cause’ and ‘effect’ of decisions made at brand inception, and absorbing the impact of ‘better-than-average’ BetRegal punters.

“Differentiators. We need to be differentiated somehow.

“We definitely don’t want to be just another sports offering, we need to give people a reason to wager with us.

“Simply bonusing customers isn’t a strategy we want to pursue. Bonuses will be a supplemental component alongside a more compelling USP.”

These were words that were spoken way back when first discussions took place around building and launching an iGaming brand. These are thoughts that still hold true for us today and apply not only in iGaming but in any competitive space (you can replace ‘sports offering’ with ‘pump station’ if you like).

When I step back from the day to day operational responsibilities, and take a more wholistic view, it’s amazing to see how the decisions made during those initial months have shaped our journey to where we are now and defined what choices and challenges we face today.

I suppose it seems like an obvious statement, but being involved with since inception and through our initial growth has given me a unique visibility into the concept of ‘cause’ and ‘effect’ on a very tangible scale.

When it was being decided that was going to try and differentiate ourselves with pricing and customer service, we of course evaluated the potential impact. When I say evaluated, I mean discussed.

On the customer service side, there isn’t too much exposure. Sure, we may end up giving away some free bets to try and soothe a customer, but we can keep firm control of that. Not too much risk there at all. On the pricing side however, that’s another story. There are surely ways to manage our overall exposure, but most of those are reactive.

If we think about the logical sources of traffic when price is the key (or one of the key) differentiators, it stands to reason that we consider odds comparison sites, or odds comparison components of sites. These are users who are focused on value, and understand what’s gained by even a modest variance in pricing.

The good side is that these customers will typically have a longer lifespan, especially if they value in your lines. The downside of course is that these users are typically a little smarter than the average recreational punter. Not saying that they are all long term sharp punters, but I think the hold percentage would skew a little below average for this segment over the long term.

Keep in mind that my previous experience was with Pinnacle for about seven years. Pinnacle, the site with the staggering amounts of betting volume. When betting volumes are significant, it’s easier to ‘absorb’ the impact of some better-than-average punters because presumably there is enough recreational betting action to cushion the blow.

An interesting trend that seems to be emerging is that we are seeing a higher percentage of our betting volume coming from these ‘better-than-average’ punters which is putting downward pressure on our hold percentage. As I referred to cause and effect above, this seems to be a completely natural reaction to the decisions that were made in the beginning.

We knew that if we were going to try and be aggressive on our pricing, it would naturally lead to the type of customer that would try to take advantage of that pricing (and I don’t mean take advantage in a negative way). This was in no way unexpected, it’s just very interesting to see the whole entire evolution unfold in front of your eyes.

For to achieve the goal of brand recognition as one of the leading iGaming brands in terms of pricing value for the customer, we need to get this snowball of bet volume rolling a little bit faster.

The more volume we can generate, the more aggressive we can be in terms of our pricing and limits, which in turn will allow us to generate more volume, which in turn will allow us to be more aggressive on pricing, and so on.

Until we reach the point of critical mass for that momentum to starts (and even after it starts), we must be cognizant of how aggressive we are on pricing, so we don’t price ourselves right out of any profitability.

However, I previously acknowledged the positive impact on player acquisition of pricing the ATP World Tour Finals at 98%. It’s this sort of success that highlights why we must take the rough with the smooth in relation to sharp punters, not losing sight of the merits of our multi-sport differentiation strategy.

From the start, I said we needed a peg to hang our hat on and declare THIS is who we are going to be. We need to stay true to the principles that underpinned our successful launch. This is not the time to blink.

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