Gambling customer activation tactics that work where email fails

Anna Sopova

Account base is the most important asset of any gambling operator. Companies dedicate a lot of effort and money to acquire new players. In many countries, attracting a single player costs between 400 and 1000 euros. To justify this spent, operators need to be sure that their customer lifetime value is at least three times higher than customer acquisition cost. Meaning, each player is expected to spend a minimum of 1200-3000 euros over the length of their relationship with the operator.

And that’s where the real challenge begins. First, customer sign-up doesn’t necessarily mean payment. Only 2 in 5 customers that register an account with a gambling provider make it to the first deposit. Second, of those who started playing 70% become inactive in 6-12 months. In other words, within a year, only 12% of hard-worn accounts keep generating revenue for the operator.

That’s why encouraging customers to make deposits and reactivating disengaged players who have stopped playing are top priority tasks for gambling companies.

Gambling business is not easy to advertise

To get new players into the game and keep them coming back, companies use promotions like free plays, free spins or deposit bonuses. While all these are decent tactics with proven efficiency, there’s still a challenge to tackle. When it comes to communicating these promotions to the audience, gambling companies find themselves in a more difficult position than most of the other businesses.

The reason for this is legal restrictions that many countries impose on gambling advertising. The restrictions may prohibit advertising of some gambling activities, exclude some means of communication from advertising, or limit the time when advertising is allowed. For example, in Poland, it is prohibited to advertise card games, dice games, and gaming machine games. Latvian law doesn’t allow to advertise gambling outside gambling venues. In the Netherlands, no gambling adverts are allowed on television between 18:00 and 19:00.

With that said, customer outreach and communication is arguably the biggest challenge that gambling operators face. Most operators use a mix of traditional communication channels.

Email in gambling advertising

Gambling marketers love email, for a reason. It (almost) doesn’t fall under legal restrictions. It doesn’t require technical knowledge. It’s affordable. It allows sending targeted, personalized content and offers to every customer. But there’s a downside: 80% of emails are never opened. Less than 1% of emails lead to an interaction (click or response). While email is reaching subscribers a relatively low cost per action, it only reaches a small part of the audience and its ability to convert players is very limited. According to SimilarWeb, less than 0,3% of people who visit gambling websites come from email.

Social media in gambling advertising

Gambling operators have increased their presence in social media in recent years. Advertising and marketing via platforms like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter is now an established strategy to engage and maintain customer loyalty. But same as email, social media can hardly promise high reach and conversion rates. For iGaming companies, it’s the second smallest source of traffic after email. Of all gambling traffic, less than 1,5% of visitors come from social media.

Gambling and PPC advertising

The cornerstone of many iGaming sites’ marketing strategy is paid search, or pay-per-click (PPC) advertising. It is a major part of the marketing mix of most gambling companies. When done right, PPC ads deliver high quality customers. There’s a lot of competition in this channel though, and cost per click gets only higher with time. In the UK, 77 out of 100 most expensive keywords are gambling-related. It’s not uncommon to pay 70 euros per click for a top sports betting term and over 130 euros for a top casino keyword.

Affiliate marketing in iGaming

If you take a look at sources of the traffic of an average gambling website, you will notice that referral traffic has an unusually high share. SimilarWeb’s data shows that around 25% of people visit gambling websites via a referral link (a banner or a text link placed on another website). Affiliates help a lot to attract new customers, but when we talk about reaching out to the operator’s existing customer base, 3d party websites hardly can help.

Gambling brands manage to get decent results by combining these channels. But as gambling companies operate on a highly competitive market where marketing costs are high, they are always looking for innovative customer communication channels.

How to attract 150 000 euros in deposits in 6 hours

In February 2020, a major Spanish operator of sports betting and online casino launched a promotion campaign offering to double any deposit made by players until the end of the day. In 6 hours, the campaign reached more than 100k players, approximately 3k of them deposited the average of 50 euros each. The campaign collected around 150k of deposits in mere hours. Check out the campaign figures here.

Behind this success was Apifonica’s Player activation suite, an automated solution that dials a list of phone numbers, plays pre-recorded promo message, and sends SMS offers to callees who agreed to receive it.

Used by major operators across Europe, Apifonica’s automated calling campaigns consequently show better results than any other medium in terms of reach (around 85%), engagement (about 55%), conversion rate (4%) and cost per action. What makes it so effective?

Sense of urgency

Unlike email or SMS, a phone call happens” here and now”, and prompts immediate action. Players can even place bets during a phone call. See how it works here.

Insuperable reach

On average, around 85% of customers will answer a phone call if it comes from a mobile number in their home area code. It means, from 100k contacts on the list, 85k will hear your message. No other medium can offer a reach rate that high.

Low cost

Depending on the provider, you will only be charged for call minutes, or action taken by a callee (picked up the phone, listened until the end, requested an SMS, etc.)


Calls are placed automatically, no human assistance required. It is particularly useful for companies with limited human resources in the marketing department.

Unlimited space to explain the offer

As compared to SMS, phone calls provide much more freedom to explain the offer. No character limitation means you may get as creative as it takes to engage players.

Legal compliance

Except for countries where gambling advertising is strictly prohibited, calling a customer is legal if they gave their consent to receive marketing communications from the brand.

Three offbeat tactics that work for gambling advertising

Apifonica’s customers use automated calling campaigns to activate new players, attract more deposits from the existing customer base, and minimize abandoned deposits. Below are the three tactics used by Apifonica’s clients in the gambling industry.

New account activation

Once a customer has registered an account with the operator, they receive an automated phone call prompting them to place a deposit or make a bet “right now” in exchange for a bonus or a freebie.

Attracting deposits

Encourage customers to place a bet on a specific sports event or pique their attention when you launch a new game.

Minimizing abandoned deposits

Customers who have money on their accounts may place bets immediately over a phone call.

The gambling business has never been easy to advertise. If you are looking for innovative ways to attract more deposits and bets from your existing customer base, check out the free real-time demo of Apifonica’s Player activation suit

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