As the company behind the platform that helped Oddschecker to run more than 100 tactical marketing campaigns across five channels during this year’s Cheltenham Festival week, Xtremepush is making its mark on the sports betting industry.
We spoke to the firm’s CEO Tommy Kearns, who explained why ‘monolithic’ cloud solutions are being replaced by purpose-built platforms. This allows brands to run all of their marketing campaigns (email, SMS, web browsers, mobile app and social messengers) from one dashboard, unifying data silos to give a Single Customer View across all channels.
Kearns also spoke about demystifying multichannel engagement. He emphasised the importance of getting an immediate ROI through high-value use cases and gradually layering in “the good stuff” like in-play betting and dynamic personalisation, before explaining why Xtremepush’s ability to understand and utilise customer data in real time – “at speed and scale” – has become a global differentiator.
SBC: Where has the notion that running multichannel campaigns is a complicated beast come from?
TK: I think for the last 10 years you’ve had these monolithic, dinosaur cloud solutions that were just patched together piece by piece over time. They weren’t initially built for the purpose they’re now supposed to serve and that leads to knock-on problems for the end-user.
And, as well, part of the whole offering for these large vendors is the professional services aspect. So their systems are deliberately unclear and complex. It’s not in their interests to get the customer up and running within a short time frame and they certainly don’t want the customer to be totally self-sufficient.
The other side of this, if you look at the industry as a whole, is that a lot of brands have built up their MarTech stack using all of these separate point solutions. So email, SMS or push functionality, for example, each lives on its own. They aren’t speaking to one another.
What that does is create data silos, which means you can’t get a single view of the customer. It also increases your overheads from the perspective of the CRM team. I don’t blame these brands, however, as until recently they really didn’t have an alternative.
That’s kind of a frame for what happened in the industry. But over the last three to five years you’ve had the emergence of a platform like Xtremepush which is next gen, agile and purpose-built for multichannel marketing. It allows you to consolidate all of your data within a single repository so that it’s easily accessible and actionable.
Alongside that, it also means you can coordinate your email, your mobile app, your web browser, SMS and social messenger engagements from the same place. So now your overheads are significantly reduced, and the task of creating campaigns is simplified. You can actually achieve better results (more conversions, improved open rates etc) with a smaller team and generate a higher ROI.
Our whole mission is to demystify multichannel engagement. We’re showing brands that it isn’t as complicated as some companies want you to think. We’ll get you started on the journey pretty quickly. You’ll be creating better customer experiences and seeing ROI within a very short space of time, be it on one, two, three, four or five channels.
SBC: What advice would you give to sportsbooks/casinos who are hoping to get started with multichannel?
TK: Start with a small number of high value use cases that can be rolled out across one or two channels so it doesn’t become this overwhelming project. It’s about prioritising the most important use cases that are consistent across the entire industry. I’m talking about converting website and app visitors into registered players, then nudging them towards first deposit, first bet, and behavioural betting thereafter.
It’s about not panicking, not letting it overwhelm you. Get up and running with a small number of channels and start generating ROI immediately. Organically add channels as the opportunities arise. This means you can quickly begin layering in analytics, in-play betting, automation and personalisation across different devices and channels – all the good stuff.
It should never become this massive project that takes years. That’s one of the reasons we were so determined to offer a modular solution. You can use us for one or two channels to begin with, or whatever number works best for your brand, and add more as the relationship develops. In this way, we’re able to get our customers up and running within 6-8 weeks across multiple channels.
SBC: What are the key challenges and opportunities for sportsbooks in terms of customer acquisition, engagement and retention?
TK: If we look across the different markets, the challenges and opportunities vary. In high-growth areas such as the US and Africa, it’s all about acquisition and customer education. We provide the analytics and the tools needed to drive registrations both on your website and in-app. That means being able to see where the drop-off points in this initial journey are and then having the ability to intervene in real time with the right message.
By contrast, if you look at Western Europe – mature markets such as the UK – retention becomes key because the risk of churn is very high. It’s crucial to identify those players who are at risk of falling away and re-engage them with dynamic content and offers that you know are likely to win them back.
So those are two distinct growth metrics, but the thing they have in common is that to succeed you must have a deep understanding of each individual customer and their behaviour at every stage of the funnel.
If you have siloed data, and siloed channels, you can’t get that single view of the customer. That’s one of the things we provide – unified customer data across all channels. Once you have that you can start to automate real-time, personalised engagement journeys at speed and scale.
SBC: You’ve highlighted acquisition for emerging markets and retention within mature markets; is engagement more consistent across the two?
TK: Absolutely. Personalised engagement is key across every market. That’s being able to understand your customer from a CRM point of view – bet spend, bet type, odds preference – then being able to communicate with them at the right time, via the right channel, and with the right offer. This is the level of intelligent targeting that’s converting across the whole sports betting market.
Another massive thing we’re seeing is that brands are exploring in-play engagement and having a lot of success with it. That’s where the market is going. We’re probably one of, if not the only provider, that can enable brands to do that on a global scale using a single platform.
SBC: Some of the top US sports are particularly good for this in-play engagement given the natural breaks of play in sports such as baseball and American football; how is Xtremepush making its mark in the US?
TK: Yes, the major US sports are naturally set up to provide these moments of engagement. It’s a dream scenario for sports betting brands, but only if they have the technical capabilities to act on them. In-play engagement requires an all-in-one platform where your data is coming into a single place, with automated campaigns built around dynamic templates running in real time.
The fact is most service providers out there aren’t able to deal with this. Our platform is able to understand the data coming in across all of the different channels, bring it together in real time and execute decisions based on it at speed and scale. This is a massive differentiator for us on a global level, including in the US.
SBC: Finally, which brands in sports betting would you say are ‘nailing’ it right now?
TK: We work with five out the top 10 tier one sports betting brands globally and all of them are doing great things. But if I was to look at a brand in particular that is absolutely nailing it, it would be Oddschecker. In fact, we just released an in-depth customer story with them so I’m very familiar with their recent work. Honestly, I stand in awe of what they’ve done over the last few months.
To put their achievements into perspective, they had three large point solutions plugged into their back-end before they started working with us. They pulled all three out and plugged us in instead, as well as adding two more channels to lengthen their reach. They were able to do all of this in the space of 12 weeks. From here, they went from strength to strength.
During the week of Cheltenham, for example, they ran over 100 tactical campaigns across five channels – push notifications, web browser notifications, web pop-ups, email and in-app messaging – in multiple languages and in multiple geographies. All of that with a very small, though exceptional team.
We were delighted to be able to provide Oddschecker with both a clear roadmap for their transformation and a multichannel platform that has delivered them tangible results very quickly. If people are interested in learning a bit more about all of that, they can take a look at the customer story here.