Understanding the elements of how a website serves as a marketing and management tool is crucial for every club and casino.
If you are looking at updating your website there are a few things to consider apart from just focusing on appearance and design.
We know people make quick judgments on appearance and design quality and that first impressions are important, especially with potential new patrons. However, we also need to ensure we are focused on existing members, especially those all-important gamers who contribute significantly to your bottom line.
There are a lot of fantastic designers and web developers out there who can build a “good looking” and functional website. But it is really important to choose a designer and developer that have solid experience in gaming. It will save you from getting a website that misses the mark and doesn’t intuitively respond to your gaming patrons. So when we say “essential” elements, we really mean “essential” for club and casino websites, as well as those pubs with a gaming focus and rewards program.
Designers and web developers who have worked in gaming will already have pre-existing partners to add in functionality that is unique to our industry and they can streamline the process, which will ultimately save you time and money.
In other words, separate the shiny stuff (features) from the benefits that will help you connect to and understand your patrons and make sure that your website allows members or patrons to communicate with the club, pub or casino.
Here are just a few of the “essentials” that whoever is pitching you their services should mention before you do, and they should really be added into your web brief from the get-go:
1) Personalised player information must be available.
This is a no brainer. If you are serious about gaming and have a rewards program, your website should have a secure members log in portal to review offers and status. Say a favourite band is booked for next month, and Gold Tier members get free tickets. Your players will want to know how many points they need to reach the Gold Tier. Or they have qualified for a free meal at the new bistro or restaurant; when does that offer expire? Make sure that this sort of information is accessible through your website and also your app if you have one.
2) A website tool that allows for service feedback from your members and patrons.
We all know that we make mistakes and have service issues. And experience proves that the website is a communication tool that members will use to tell us about these issues. You want to get all of the feedback; the good, the bad, and the really ugly.
So make sure your website doesn’t hide the “contact us” link in an obscure location or just gives a generic email address or phone number that goes to reception – or even worse, a call on hold recording with multiple selections, none of which will assist your VIP customers. If your gamers want to speak to you – they want to speak to you now, so give them a direct contact that shouts out, “Let us know how we did. We’re here to help”. They will thank you for it.
3) The ability to conduct surveys and polls is a must!
Targeted surveys and polls will help you with immediate feedback outside of annual or half yearly focus groups. Don’t know which entertainer to book? Just send out a poll to your targeted players and ask them to help you choose. How does your food quality compare to your direct competitor? How do they like your new promotion? Just ask. Your members want to tell you their opinions. The ability to poll or survey targeted players is a powerful management and marketing tool.
4) Social gaming – make sure you are ready, at least.
Look to the future. I believe social gaming will be an integral part of club rewards programs in the very near future. You need to ensure your will be able to integrate any social gaming needs with your website. The cross-marketing opportunities of social gaming are vast. For example, you can reward a Gold player with the option to play a favourite casino style game online. They could win a free meal, points or whatever at your brick and mortar club, pub or casino with extensive play at your online club or casino. A good social gaming strategy will enhance retention and boost new player acquisition. Just having an app isn’t the solution.
HOW OFTEN SHOULD YOU UPGRADE YOUR WEBSITE?
I see websites all the time that are literally five, six, seven, even ten years old, and that’s way too long to wait to redesign any website.
As a general rule of thumb you should refresh your site every two to three years. Really every two years is probably the way to go in a perfect world.
Why? Because trends and importantly, technology changes all the time. For example, right now it’s all about a responsive, mobile experience. That’s because more people view the web on a mobile device, like a phone or tablet with different screen sizes, than they do on laptops or desktop computers. So it’s really a big deal if you’re website is not responsive.
Some clubs and pubs wait to redevelop their sites for a lot pf different reasons…because they just don’t get around to it, they don’t see it as important or they haven’t budgeted for it and so on. But you need to budget for a website redesign just like you budget for anything else.
And a lot of times a club or pub looks at a website as a big one-time expense, and once they’ve done it, they think that’s it for a while.
But marketing and technology, so crucial to our industry, are changing all the time.
Marketing is a process, not a project and it should be a continuous process. Your website should be your key focal point for that process.
It’s your main interactive communication tool, so you need to make sure that not only is it redesigned on a continuous basis but it is kept current, content is posted regularly and you are using it as a hub for your marketing strategy.