Betmate is a UK-based football gaming app that gives fans the opportunity to take part in different sports betting games centered around live football matches. Their games include Fantasy Football (FF), Betmate FT (Full Time Result), Betmate BTTS (Both Teams To Score), Betmate Survivor, and Betmate Goalscorer (GS). The game “pots” pay out in multiple places and the entry fees are low, making it easy for players to participate with friends and test their sports knowledge.
Ryan Lawrence, Betmate’s founder, used OneSignal at previous companies he’d worked for, so choosing it for his own startup was an easy decision. In addition to OneSignal’s robust personalization and optimization features, he knew he would need to leverage various channels to compete and grow in the app marketplace. OneSignal’s startup-friendly pricing model empowered his small team to pay for what they needed at the outset, without compromising on what they would need later on. “We knew that it met our expectations and that as we scale, there are further opportunities for us to further personalize and grow.”
“We knew that it met our expectations and that as we scale, there are further opportunities for us to further personalize and grow.”
Challenges & Opportunities
Although sports betting was only recently legalized in the US, it’s been legal in the UK for over sixty years. In 2022, UK sports betting apps reached £2.36 billion in revenue, and the UK gambling market is poised to grow USD 2.83 billion between 2021 and 2026. The compelling growth potential of this category has generated steep competition, making it more important than ever for apps to strengthen their existing relationships and deliver a unique user experience.
“We have ambitious targets of growing our combined active bettors. This demands not just attracting new users but also retaining existing ones, ensuring they remain engaged and find value in our platform,” says Ryan.
Another ongoing challenge inherent to all apps is improving conversion rates — especially those that serve as early touchpoints along the user journey. For Betmate, getting users to register their account, verify their ID, and make a deposit are all crucial steps that must be met in order to unlock app participation. With that in mind, Lawrence knew that a strong user messaging strategy was a must-have to fulfill their goals. “Elevating the rate of registrations to deposits requires strategic user onboarding, intuitive UI/UX, and a well-thought-out customer journey,” explains Ryan.
“Elevating the rate of registrations to deposits requires strategic user onboarding, intuitive UI/UX, and a well-thought-out customer journey.”
Optimizing Conversions with More Personalized & Targeted Messaging
For sports betting apps in particular, engaging users with timely updates, reminders, and promotions is the key to ensuring a seamless UX and fostering long-term player loyalty. As Ryan explains, “Utilizing notifications, email, in-apps, and SMS helps build trust between us and our customers, as we’re able to keep them up-to-date on key events and activities.”
“Utilizing notifications, email, in-apps, and SMS helps build trust between us and our customers, as we’re able to keep them up-to-date on key events and activities.”
Their omnichannel engagement strategy leverages mobile push notifications for upcoming contests and promotions, email for weekly recaps and upcoming events, SMS for timely promotional offers, and in-app messages to drive push subscribers, onboard new users, amplify promotions, and deepen app engagement.
Using Data Tags to segment users based on real-time behavior and automatically tailor their messaging strategy has been the crux of their success. As Ryan attests, “the true potential of messaging unfolds when it’s driven by rich user data.”
He was initially surprised by how much small personalization improvements could impact messaging campaign performance. “When we first introduced the `user_name` Data Tag, it immediately increased CTR by 130%,” says Ryan. The results were a testament to how much the little details matter when it comes to personalizing the user experience.
“The ability to upload segments that match certain criteria is invaluable. We now have the tool to deploy a more nuanced, data-driven messaging approach. This targeting not only improves user engagement but also leads to better business outcomes.”
In addition to strengthening app engagement, his team focused on optimizing two pivotal conversion points: user ID verification and depositing funds for the first time. To nurture more conversions, they used custom Data Tags to automatically segment users based on ID verification and deposit status. Then, they built custom cross-channel Journeys encouraging ID verification and deposits to help reduce friction and nudge users along this crucial part of the user journey. “We have a specific Journey created for each use case, and because of that, we’re able to reengage and nudge people to each touchpoint,” says Ryan.
As a result of implementing these Journeys, they increased the number of users who verified their ID by 11% and increased the number of new user deposits by 30%.
Leveraging Journeys to Capture Referrals
Driving referrals through organic growth is a key objective for Betmate, especially as customer acquisition costs continue to rise year over year. “Our goal is to hit a ‘refer-a-Betmate’ viral coefficient consistently over 1.0 — ensuring that each user brings at least one more active user into the app,” explains Ryan.
To support this goal, his team set up referral Journeys, which allows them to automatically tailor and personalize the onboarding and engagement messaging to the referral experience.
“Journeys allows us to tailor each experience based on where each user has come from,” explains Ryan. Betmate has Journeys in place based on specific customer offers and signup events, so if a user inputs a specific promo code or enters the app based on a signup offer, the onboarding Journey will be tailored to that experience.
“With the introduction of OneSignal Journeys, we’ve taken our engagement strategy a notch higher. This feature has allowed us to craft more personalized, timely, and relevant messaging sequences.”
Using SMS to Augment an Omnichannel Messaging Strategy
When asked why Betmate chose to add SMS to their messaging toolkit, Ryan’s answer was simple: “The open rates for SMS are a lot higher than email, notifications, and other types of messages. For those reasons alone, it’s a really important channel, but it’s also really important not to overuse it.”
SMS boasts open rates between 95 to 99%, making it the most visible channel by a wide margin. At the same time, due to the ubiquity of spam texts and robocalls, many users are wary of sharing their phone numbers with brands and are quick to revoke permission if an app damages their trust.
Betmate sends one text per week to nudge users who haven’t played in a certain number of days and aren’t already signed up to participate in the upcoming event. By limiting their sends and being thoughtful about their targeting and segmentation strategy, they’re able to maximize the impact of this high-visibility channel when it counts. “It’s important because people open it — It means that we have a direct, high-performing channel.”
“It’s [SMS] important because people open it — It means that we have a direct, high-performing channel.”
Using In-App Messages to Encourage Push Subscription
Like many apps, Betmate prompts users to sign up for push notifications after onboarding to their app. Realizing that not all users will be ready to say “yes” before they’ve had a chance to experience the app, Betmate uses in-app messages to re-prompt users who have been active for two weeks but haven’t enabled notifications.
This single in-app message has led to 30% of that audience enabling push notifications in the app — a huge win that allows them to keep even more players engaged even after they close the app.
Bottom Line Impact from Omnichannel Messaging
600% increase in MAU (unique, paying users) since implementing OneSignal Journeys
30% increase in new user deposits since implementing OneSignal Journeys
625% increase in user spending per month since implementing OneSignal
22% increase in sessions per user in 2023
120% increase in app downloads in 2023
Advice for Other Apps
We asked Ryan Lawrence what his advice would be for other apps that were just beginning to build out their messaging strategy, and he had three powerful pointers to share:
It’s really important to think about the different touchpoints in the user journey and always reverse engineer where you want people to be. Mapping out your user journey and really understanding the touchpoints will allow you to segment different users and tailor your messaging.
Implementing a messaging strategy can be transformational, but it does require careful thought and execution. I recommend defining clear objectives — whether it’s user engagement, increasing sales, improving retention, or driving specific actions — having clear objectives will guide your messaging content, frequency, and targeting.
Prioritize opt-in rates. Focus on encouraging users to opt-in to notifications. Provide clear value propositions, and let them know the benefits they’ll get from subscribing to your messages.
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