Mark Gibson – mkodo – How should Lotteries go mobile?

Mark Gibson
Mark Gibson

Mark Gibson, Business Development Manager at mkodo, looks at the way the lottery market has approached online and how they are now approaching the mobile channel. But what is the best way for success?

Just a couple of years ago this question would have been framed very differently – it would have been much more about the ‘if’ or the ‘why’ of Lotteries going mobile.

The shift in player patterns has continued towards mobile across all sectors and to interactivity. More customers now have mobile phone devices than desktops. People spend more time on mobile apps than browsing the internet on a desktop.  For a technology that in reality is less than 10 years old, the customer appetite for, and adoption of, mobile is nothing short of astounding.

Of course, mobile devices have been around now for closer to 20 years than 10, but the landscape of mobile took a quantum leap in 2007 with the launch of the iPhone and the App store in 2008. The subsequent change in design standards and functional expectations for mobiles – no longer just phones, more computing devices – are those that apply now and mean that the mobile that we know and expect is very much a product of the last 10 years.

This trend has been accelerated further by the development and customer uptake of tablet devices over the past 5 years. The size variance in tablets is now quite substantial – from the more ‘economic’ 7’’ style screens up the screens that are pushing 13’’.

Design for tablet formats and usage is one that tends, very much, to fall into the strategic thinking and processes that cover mobile adoption. One of the key reasons for this is that many tablets run using the same operating system platform as phone-counterparts and the other is that the leading tablet-family (iPads) do not run Flash and so most desktop sites within the gaming space are not suitable for consumption on tablet – whereas, with adjustment, their mobile phone versions are.

There is no reason to think that the trend towards mobile consumption of all services across all sectors will not continue (even if the growth percentage by necessity falls).  Gaming is not an exception to this trend – indeed, in some instances, gaming has been well ahead of the curve in terms of mobile adoption. Within gaming, the verticals of Sportsbook and Bingo were earlier adopters and see massively significant levels of engagement on mobile – to the point where mobile is now the dominant channel ahead of desktop. Betfair one of the world’s leading digital sports betting organisations recently announced that 80% of its customers base uses its mobile products. This trend towards mobile is one that will impact Lottery as it impacts everything else.  It is important to recognise that Lottery may present some differences in adoption rate and methods than will be seen in other gaming sectors.

Lottery specific user-base as challenge and opportunity

There may be a variation in the speed of take-up of mobile in Lottery. Lottery purchase and usage patterns tend to be less dynamic and changeable than for other gaming verticals. The Lottery player will be more established in his/her purchasing patterns (and with a greater tendency towards retail purchasing) than typical users of other types of gaming products. As such, change in the pattern of behaviour for the Lottery population tends to be a slower process. Partly this is reflective of the customer-demographic and partly this is a facet of the massive difference in the size of the customer-population. Lottery has so many more players, thus any movement in behaviour is likely to be more gradual, than for a vertical with a smaller population. Therein lies the challenge and also the opportunity. The challenge being that mobile must seek to create an engagement that serves a generalist audience and one that may not be especially au fait with newer technologies – whilst still leveraging those technologies. Creative design will be key in this.

mkodo-lottomaxThe opportunity is huge. Lottery’s scale means that even small percentage increments can provide significant benefits. Mobile in other areas has provided significant percentage changes (e.g. for operators with a mature mobile offering in sportsbook, mobile routinely accounts for 50%+ of stakes and at a generally better margin) and if mobile can replicate even a proportion of that behaviour-dynamic and success for Lottery then the upside could be seismic.

Complementary Mobile and Retail

So, how should mobile help leverage these opportunities without competing directly with the dominant and critical retail channel?

Mobile should be viewed as part of an omni-channel approach. The challenge is not to move the customer away from the retail experience but to ensure that the customer can adopt whichever method s/he wants at any particular time – dependent on their situation. Mobile should augment and complement the retail channel, as should desktop. The player should be able to engage with their account through any channel.

Mobile does provide Lottery operators with a huge opportunity to engage more proactively with its customers and to allow customers to buy tickets when it suits them. Mobile is uniquely suited to those customers who tend to purchase closer to the draw time and enabling this will increase usage by increasing the frequency of that purchase – customers will always have the chance to buy tickets on mobile and not worry about whether they can make it to the shops/past the queue in time. Mobile can proactively let customers know what the estimated jackpot value will be through Push and SMS communications – reminding customers of both the value to be won and of the deadline for ticket purchase. The mobile channel is the perfect platform for driving last minute ticket sales. Mobile can also offer customers maps and directions to their nearest purchasing points. There are so many means whereby mobile can contribute to the overall value of the customer engagement process in addition to adding a sales channel that is both demanded and expected by customers.

There will be a proportion of the lottery audience that naturally tends towards the newer tech and Lottery operators must support those or risk customer dalliance with competitor channels and similar products.

How to deliver?

The high-level choice that will be presented to many operators is that of webapp (i.e. a mobile-browser access service) or app (a downloadable app from an app store). The answer should not be ‘either or’ it should be both. Each option has its benefits in terms of customer-reach, distribution channel and discoverability, quality of graphics and animations, marketing functions, cost and time of development and maintenance, etc. The long-term solution should be both webapp and app, the question will be about the order – and these will vary by operator dependent on individual circumstances.

So.. how should Lotteries go mobile? Using a browser-based webapp or an App? The answer is both, but the key point is to start now – enlist the aid of an expert mobile solutions provider and go mobile in whatever way best suits your audience and budget. This way you will reap the huge benefits that are offered by the mobile channel.

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