An Interview With:
Steen Madsen, CEO Of Customer Experience Marketing Agency, A GAME ABOVE.com
EI Industry News talks exclusively to Steen Madsen, CEO of A GAME ABOVE, the agency specialising in what he terms the Gain, Retain, Maintain strategy for betting and gaming industry brands, providers, affiliates and content partners.
Established in late-2019, the agency has already enjoyed impact across the industry, in Europe and the USA, offering a unique take on the fundamentals of player lifecycle development and maximising lifetime value potential. The way A GAME ABOVE does this - through player promotions - will be familiar to many. How those promotions work for customers, and how entertained they are by them, is not like anything the industry has seen before. A standard reload bonus is not what you’ll get by making A GAME ABOVE promotions a part of your marketing mix.
We talked to Steen from the company’s European headquarters in Copenhagen, Denmark.
EI: To begin with the obvious, how have you found the COVID-19 period, so far, and how is it affecting your clients?
It’s been an interesting period to establish a new venture, and, fortunately, gain traction on success for clients and ourselves. The COVID crisis was not on our radar, whatsoever, when starting the business but we had to adapt, and fast, for what clients needed. The loss of nearly all professional sports, for our sportsbook clients, was unprecedented and shocking. In many ways, our status as a new, fast-moving agency with a core focus upon changing the customer experience, overall, was exactly what was required by many clients to help them adapt and pivot, not simply by product, but towards exciting and engaging events for the players, across the lifecycle. The support and belief of our clients, once we’d planned, educated internally and then delivered across campaigns that captivate their customers, has been truly inspiring – when we see the reaction to our sales promotions it truly does feel like this is what customers were waiting for, to better create an experience across their betting and gaming play, analogous to what Las Vegas does for visitors to the Nevada resort. We’re very glad to have hit the mark commercially and creatively for our clients, and I am dedicated to maintaining that focus for clients across my team and their output.
EI: How have you handled the impact of the new normal upon the team?
I’m fortunate to have picked the right people, at the right time when founding the business. Jakob Famme, my COO, is a disciplined, capable operator – his response to the crisis was to, simply, deal with it and ensure remote working, pitching, meeting and delivery across live campaigns was seamless. Engaging Bill Pascrell, III, as our President for North America was important to create the right blend of people and promise in the business – Bill brings years of unparalleled betting and gaming market experience and a knowledge of America that is unmatched. He is loved by the team and our clients, and has an unique approach to ensuring our solutions are tailored to client needs, influenced by market and the needs of scaling to market share shifts by State, in the USA in particular. Our focus upon the player and how that is interpreted through our products, and the marketing of them by clients, is managed by my CPMO, Ismail Vali, who has proven himself time and again – everything I’ve demanded of him for our clients, he has delivered and executed, innovatively, and without issue to changed working methods. Overall, I’m immensely proud of my team and the work they have dedicated for our clients and towards our industry mission of making customers believe.
EI: What one thing drove success for your clients during the crisis, so far?
Our ability to help replace a sports calendar our clients could not control with a customer lifecycle calendar they could own, and adapt to rapidly with our help, was fundamental to our recent success. As sport returns, we are now adapting those calendars to more available sporting events, and balancing them with promotions alongside for casino, poker, eSports, virtuals and adapted sports, to give players an holistic view of all that is available for them from an operator, across a lifecycle that focuses upon their experiences, and not solely their expenditure.
That we were nominated for no less than three eGR B2B Awards right at the peak of the coronavirus crisis is, I feel, testament to the efforts of my team and the belief and support of our clients in focusing marketing upon the player experience. We are pushing a clear manifesto for the industry - to make players believe - and, despite the uncertainty across the period, we likely could not have picked a better time to have launched. The clarity of focus required to deliver, whilst adapting with and for our clients and their audiences, has allowed A GAME ABOVE to reach so many more with our message of celebrating players, across the lifecycle, with a little but often revenue strategy focused upon sustainable play.
EI: What do you mean by making players believe?
I’m glad you asked that! After many years in operational and consulting roles across the betting and gaming industry, I was concerned by the sustainability of our offering, in all markets, given the focus upon product, above all else. Bringing in customers who want to back their team for sports bets, and aggressively cross-selling them to casino, slots and other products, mainly by way of purely financial incentives, that often do not work how players expect them to, just does not strike me as the smartest way to gain, retain and maintain the audience, long term.
The dynamics of play over betting and gaming product, with a win/loss cycle across all, requires more care, commitment and focus in how we engage, offer and advertise our products. In an industry where, in the minds of the audience, all our products are pretty much the same, we need something more to make them try, buy and establish loyalty. That something is best served by exciting, engaging, and effective player promotions. It produces a different kind of audience engagement: healthy, mission and achievement-focused customer behaviour, with loyalty built-in, over the course of their participation with the games above - the promotions that we build and operate for our clients. We take players out of the bare transactions of gambling, and welcome them to a little but often revenue strategy approach, where their status and achievement in completing a mission, qualifying for a championship, or receiving a prize against the clock, often matters more than money.
Over the course of a player lifecycle calendar, featuring many customer promotions or stories, as we call them at A GAME ABOVE, we’ll engage and enhance the customer experience so that it drives unmatched acquisition, retention and, fundamentally, increased value, across a sustainable, career-path plan for the player.
Learn more at www.AGameAbove.com