This article was published in Canadian Gaming Business, the Canadian gaming industry publication.
The gaming industry is no stranger to cultivating customer loyalty. Through player’s club programs, comp policies and promotional campaigns, the gaming industry taught others how to secure and keep customers. But in a 2.0 world – where online social networks put the competition for customers on a truly global scale – how can you make the most of existing social media tools to retain and enhance the loyalty of your customers?
It is no longer just about creating a Facebook Page and posting news releases; your customers are looking to engage you and your organization in a way that enhances their overall experience – whether at the casino, on their mobile or in their home. Let’s examine a few ways to make social media work for you.
First, social media offers an excellent opportunity for you and your staff to directly engage customers. You are probably adept at traditional marketing concepts that look to inform customers about promotional campaigns that will translate into more visits to your establishment. And hopefully you are doing that through e-mail (still the king of customer contact), but you can and should also be running those same promotions on your website, Facebook Page, Twitter or Foursquare account, SMS alerts and online advertising. Leveraging each channel will increase your campaign’s reach.
But it shouldn’t just be a monologue. You can strengthen customer loyalty by providing an opportunity for customers to provide feedback – and get a direct response – using many of those same channels. Most Twitter clients allow for real-time searches for mentions of a particular keyword or name, which means you can be notified every time someone mentions your establishment on Twitter. Why use your Twitter account to push out promotions on autopilot when you can empower your staff to use it to respond to customer complaints or suggestions?
Second, it is important to emphasize the “social” in “social media”. Creating a sense of community within your online presence helps to deepen the connection between your establishment and your patrons. Allowing visitors to upload content for a contest, chat and interact with other players or share their latest experiences all help to create a real “community” feel. You and your staff can deepen that link even further by joining in the conversation and letting visitors get to know the personalities behind the organization.
Finally, it makes sense to offer some exclusivity and special attention to those who connect with use using social media tools. For example, offering a unique promotion to those who subscribe to your e-mail list not only gives them a reason for doing so, but increases the chances they will offer up their e-mail address – giving you a direct link to talk to them in the future. Why not create a special promotion for those who “like” your Facebook Page? Or give special priority on new offers or events to those who sign up for text messaging updates?
Unlike traditional marketing campaigns, social media offers the opportunity to connect directly with your customers. By taking the time to listen to and respond to their needs in real-time, you can deepen customer loyalty by adding value to their experience – both on and away from the casino floor.