Loyalty & The Lottery

The lottery industry needs to look at player loyalty differently to meet today's consumer expectations.

As marketers, we often travel to conferences seeking to draw inspiration and ideas from the sessions and networking opportunities these events provide. And while many conferences rightly focus on a single industry vertical or individual marketing capabilities within an organization, this laser focus can make it very difficult to gain true outside perspective. Which is exactly why, as a lottery outsider, I was so excited to bring our thoughts on loyalty and the opportunity for better player engagement to La Fleur’s 2016 Austin Conclave (one of North America’s leading lottery events). 

Across the lottery industry, many marketers are beginning to think about how they can better engage with their players, and, in turn, activate their players’ loyalty to the lottery in more meaningful ways. Historically, lotteries have offered players second-chance plays in exchange for newsletter or winning number email signups. While effective, there is room for enhancing these programs and developing a stronger relationship with the player. To get there, the lottery industry will need to look at player loyalty differently, which is similar to the challenge facing brands across almost every industry.

In general, today’s consumer is discerning, fickle and absolutely bombarded with marketing messages. While it can be difficult to earn his or her loyalty, destroying it can happen with one bad interaction. They often see brand, marketing, sales and partner interactions as part of the same brand experience. And the exponential growth in the number of marketing channels and customer touchpoints can make having a cohesive brand experience just as difficult for the consumer as it is for the brand to enable.

Across industries, brands are adjusting to this challenging new environment. Programs are focusing on adding new enrollment, redemption and earning channels. They are seeking to acquire and utilize valuable contextual customer data to deliver meaningful, personalized experiences, and they are adding program benefits and perks that more accurately (and better) reward high-value customers while stripping out program cost and liability.

For the lottery industry, the key to successful player engagement will lie in moving from a mindset of thinking of loyalty as a player reward program to thinking of it as a player outcome that all areas of the organization and ecosystem need to rally around. Ultimately, we believe that by acquiring and leveraging more customer data, communicating with players in more personalized, relevant and meaningful ways (including targeted offers), and enabling fun, rewarding and shareable experiences, the lottery will be able to build a player culture of advocacy that will contribute to growth in the player base and increased play by existing core customers.

In order to get there, we have highlighted four key activities that will help to lay the foundation for this change of organizational mindset and help the lottery begin the process of launching a loyalty transformation:

1. Establish a metric or set of metrics that track loyalty over time. – In becoming a loyalty-focused organization, it is important to establish your key metrics early. Of course a marketer will do this so that they can demonstrate that they are driving success, but the reality is that careful selection of success metrics and appropriate goals can help to show the organization the value of the loyalty initiative and rally disparate teams to play their part.

2. Gain executive-level endorsement along with cross-functional support and governance. – Going hand-and-hand with the first recommendation, earning the endorsement of leaders from across the organization (even ones who do not bear budgetary responsibility for the loyalty initiative or the ability to stop the project) will help to foster the sense within the organization that everyone and every department plays a part in the loyalty initiative. Operating a loyalty initiative in an organizational silo has been the death knell of many a well-designed loyalty approach.

3. Create player-focused experiences that transcend product transactions to build a relationship. – We hear it all the time: Today’s consumer craves experiences.” Sounds good, but isn’t a transaction or a website visit an experience? Isn’t anything an experience? When we think about experiences, the experiences that cut through to today’s customer, success is about adding value for the customer. They can be digital, physical, or in between. But the key is that they must add something of value to keep the user engaged. That value can be as simple as entertainment, but it could also be exclusive access, personalized offers, highly contextually relevant content, unique perks, etc.

4. Be inspired by brands with cult loyalty, not just lotteries. – Finally, look outside the walls of the lottery industry and think about the brands that inspire your loyalty. There are learnings to be found from industries near and far. Successful loyalty programs help build and support a brand community and they make their best customers feel special. They achieve this in ways that go far beyond points and trinkets. They recognize their members, reward them with exclusivity and status, and understand them in the context of both their lives and customer journey. Think about your player and community of players as people first, and consider how you can make them feel valued.