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World Cup 2022: What Makes New Players Tick?

They are all around us, the silent majority of the sportsbook world. They only get up from the sofa when – and only when – there’s a good enough reason, and guess what? The coming 2022 World Cup is an excellent reason. So yes, expect large numbers of causal bettors during this World Cup but what do these players even want? And can you make them stay?

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They walk among us, we speak to them every day. One can be the waiter on the favorite restaurant, another is you colleague, sitting across from you as you read this. Causal players, they are all around us. Like that kid from the sixth sense, operators see causal bettors aplenty, they are all around them.

What makes them tick? Excitement, global interest, big names, huge games. Yes, they like the sport, they follow it loosely but probably not daily. They know Messi and Ronaldo, but never heard of Mohammed Daramy (they will). For them to become invested, the action must pass a certain bar. A big  event like the 2022 FIFA World Cup definitely fits that bill.

But this coming World Cup isn’t any big event; it’s a mega event. What’s the difference? Mega is bigger than big. Mega sports events – the Superbowl or Champions League Final – always leave a mark, grab attention and attract new players. But, any nascent soccer fan will tell you, they are nothing compared to what’s expected at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar(Nov 21 – Dec 18). 

With billions watching around the globe, more than a million fans in the stadiums, dozens of billions of dollars in projected spend, it’s clear this tournament represents an opportunity for operators and brands. And if previous mega events are any indication, and they are, operators can expect vast numbers of new players placing their first bets, representing a great growth opportunity.  

To better understand what makes new players tick, we dove deep into our historical data, with a focus on Euro 2021, and returned with six points to consider:  

More new and reactivated players to consider

Our data shows that during years without a big tournament (Euro, World Cup) player type takes a certain familiar shape which leans more in the Active Players direction (see pie chart below). But listen to this, in mega-event years a large number of first-time and newly reactivated depositors, that silent majority, turns off their invisibility cloak and dips their toe in the betting pool. This means you should put the focus heavily on reactivated and new players and focus your efforts on getting them to stick around.

They come in droves, but remain in the shallow waters

Put simply, many new players will give it a go, depositing small amounts. You should focus on acquiring the most significant piece of the pie possible of these players, who often become available during mega-events before the tournament. As new, casual players, naturally the average deposit amount takes a bit of a dive, but the more of those you gather, the better your odds of nurturing them into high-value players. Don’t stop acquiring new players and build reactivation plans based on past bettor behavior to bring back as many players as possible. 

Treat reactivated players as new players

Reactivated players will most likely be a batch of previous big events’ unnurtured casual players or, when the World Cup is held during summertime, those whose who churned during the national league hiatus prior of the tournament. Like new players, you’re likely to see many of those, and they represent an excellent opportunity for you, to nurture them back to activity.   

If they bet more, you’re more likely to retain them

If they go unnurtured casual players will go cold after a very short while. To keep them you first need to know who they are, so identify your new players, create a new marketing segment for them (and start breaking it into personas) and make sure to engage them regularly.
One way to get them to bet more is to focus on promoting bets involving their national teams. If their national team is absent or eliminated, and to avoid a dip in activity, try to find “adoptive teams” to anchor your marketing plan (the same goes for non-participating countries). For example, Spanish fans place bets on their team at a 62% clip, but in their absence, they’ll probably bet on Portugal, at a 26% clip. Consider gamification to help you achieve this goal; for example – bet on all your national team matches and get a free bet in the final (that gives you all the stages leading up to the Final with their attention). Look at logins and email openings to measure how engaged those players are.  

Make the 2nd bet a goal

This bit of data can be a game changer. Our data shows that new players placing their 2nd bet are twice as likely to be retained compared to one-timers! As you might expect, retention likelihood rises the more active those players become.  

Bet and flee players

New-players’ churn rate after mega events is high. Higher than the usual. Historically, new players acquired during sporting events have a 25% lower retention rate.

But reading this far, you already understand why. They are causal bettors just jumping on the betting bandwagon. Naturally, a large chunk will go under once the final whistle is blown. That still leaves a big opportunity on the table. One way to make them stay is to try to tie the tournament they just watched into bets on their national leagues. For example, the gap between the World Cup final and the resumption of the English Premier League is just eight days; Star piquing their interest even as the World Cup is progress. For countries with longer breaks, try to find “surrogate events” to keep the momentum going. Incentivize deposits immediately for “Zero-balance” users and those who have made a withdrawal, offering early preferential rates on bets made towards the resumption of other sports.   

You have a shot at the goal, take it

Now that you know your future new players a bit better, you see why we view this segment as the biggest marketing opportunity for operators in the coming World Cup. They will come, they will bet small amounts with you, and start heading for the exit. With the right strategy you can be there at the departure gate, with just the right offer, and turn them into active players.

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Guy Leshno

Guy Leshno, a seasoned PR and Communications professional, with a successful track record in leading PR strategies and projects in emerging startups. With over a decade of experience, his expertise lies in blending creative ideation, analytics, and expert writing capabilities, driving brand awareness, and improving sales.

Yotam Ben Nathan

Yotam is a Marketing Data Scientist, serving on Optimove's Strategic Services team. Yotam's expertise focuses on consulting clients, analyzing their data, and helping them in making data-driven marketing decisions. He holds a BSc in industrial engineering and management from Ben Gurion University.