Malin Wahlberg, Chief Revenue Officer, Wiraya
Welcome to EI Industry News – please could you tell us about your background and experience in the industry?
Thank you. I have throughout my career worked with communications, brand and customer experience in various roles. When I joined Wiraya, having worked with our products at one of our customers, I did so because of the razor sharp focus on actual customer experience and the extensive understanding of critical moments that matter for customers and companies. My first encounter with the gaming industry came with Wiraya, and I have learnt a lot of the industry-specific challenges during my tenure here.
Please tell us about the services that Wiraya offer betting and gaming clients? What sets you apart from other marketing suppliers and how do you help operators achieve sustainable growth?
The product we sell is a software platform that enables unparalleled reach and conversion through player communication using interactive voice calls, text messages and landing pages. We have built up knowledge and data models over hundreds of millions of interactions for a number of years and we continually improve our reach and conversion rates. Our product is used for specific, critical moments during a player lifecycle, from activation to retention and reactivation to ensure a positive player experience and increased brand loyalty. All our products are focused on revenue generation and, as they run and optimise continually, they are an important factor for an operator’s growth.
How have you found the COVID-19 period, so far, and how is it affecting your clients?
Some of our customers have been running as usual, or faster than before, due to more people having more time for entertainment and using online more. The customers who were relying on or were just starting up Sportsbooks have struggled and we saw some panic moves among land-based when they either shut down completely or intensified their efforts with online. For us, it has mostly been business as usual. Our products are by nature perfect for a socially distanced setting and have been more important than before in order to deliver positive player experiences.
How have you handled the impact of the new normal upon the team?
We adjusted very quickly to a setting of working from home, and we now have a hybrid model where some people go to the office and others work from home to make social distancing easy to maintain. We onboarded eight new people almost entirely remotely during the most severe phase this spring and it has been working well. As we normally have people working in different locations, this situation got some people closer to each other and meant that more of the regular water cooler banter moved to Slack or video calls instead and became inclusive of all rather than individual offices. The focus in our marketing and sales funnel has changed slightly to accommodate products that are more in line with a focus on getting back to a normal lifecycle – especially now for sportsbook.
What one thing drove success for the business goals of your clients during the crisis, so far?
Adaptability is key. We took action and got our staff working from home quickly and changed the processes to accommodate that change within days. Our marketing message and our approach to customers changed too – we quickly informed our customers of how we could do business together in this climate and were flexible in moving customers between products to accommodate their reality. We have always had a good readiness for local, regulatory change that sometimes gets decided rapidly. This has strengthened our ability to act quickly in specific markets and has been very effective in managing different countries’ response to the health crisis.
Wiraya prides themselves on keeping the customers of your brand clients engaged and motivated. What’s the Wiraya formula for how to acquire, retain and grow meaningful relationships & revenues?
We ensure that the products we sell actually delivers an excellent player experience as well as bring the customer tangible value, and we’re obsessed with improving that value. The more you use our products, the more you grow. This includes us working actively with improving the product line-up, both by introducing new features for reach and conversion to the software but also through partnerships for aspects of the communication that is outside our own focus but can dramatically improve value. One such partnership is with A GAME ABOVE, where their strength in providing promotional programmes including content, delivery and fulfilment compliments our channel perfectly, and our partnership with Optimove ensures the customer data backbone and marketing automation is updated in real-time to reflect the impact we’re having.
How does Wiraya approach the betting and gaming value chain, including stages such as acquisition, monetisation, rewards, retention and reactivation? Do you work in one particular area or many across the player lifecycle?
We have products for critical moments throughout the player lifecycle, from activation and early life through interactions based on triggers/events or reactivation when players lapse. We also have solutions for ensuring KYC, AML and responsible gambling to ensure compliance and that gaming stays fun.
Which markets are you most involved with? What similarities and differences do they present? Can you discuss a challenge common to them all and solutions that helped you overcome it?
We are working throughout Europe and in most other regulated markets. What we have seen is that there is a need to constantly check in with regulators locally to ensure that our customers use our products in a compliant way and are aware of any changes that are made. It is very different to communicate in Sweden now compared to how it was just a year ago and the operators who were late in implementing changes were facing pretty substantial fines. The same goes for responsible gambling, almost all countries have requirements for it, but all markets are different in their way of managing compliance. There are also a lot of opportunities here in new markets opening up for new games, like the upcoming lottery reform in the Netherlands and the states in the US that are now opening up regulated markets. For us, this, of course, means that our products are used in as many ways as there are markets.
What is the most important challenge facing your mission over this year?
Ensuring that we’re focusing on the right thing. Our software can be used for so many different things and it is very easy for customers and partners to get excited about the possibilities. We’re constantly revisiting our product line to ensure that we’re focusing our efforts on the products that create the most value for our customers and ensures a great player experience. Right now, that is helping our customers to get their players back into the player lifecycle, even though that is going to be very different from how it was just six months ago.
What has been the most satisfying achievement for your team and yourself over this year?
Helping some of our customers who were focusing heavily on Sportsbook earlier this year to quickly ensure a transition to other products and working with them on being ready for when the seasons restarts.
Over your career, you’ve navigated challenge and reached success. What advice would you offer those just starting out in the industry?
Make sure that you learn from mistakes. Everyone makes mistakes and the successful ones are those who don’t repeat them. Also, think about what you spend your time on – is what you’re doing really driving anything forward, and if not, what can you do about it?
There are many stakeholders in betting & gaming: government, regulator, industry, media, gambling education and harm-prevention bodies, players and customers. What one thing would you highlight as important for improving the conversation among all these stakeholders, in the markets you focus upon?
For us, this is definitely the focus on player experience. The first tenet must be to give the player an experience that is positive for them. The implementation of that experience will then be different in each market and your response to each of those stakeholders will be different to match. But the main thing is to have a solid, strong player experience that is focused on a long-term lifecycle in mind throughout. If you have to degrade player experience to meet the needs of one of the stakeholders mentioned, you need to consider if the idea is worth pursuing in that market.