Christopher Swanger

Marketing & Information Technology Teams are Stronger When United

For many years, I have seen marketing and IT groups within the casino industry work against one another. I believe it all started when the first casino marketing employee purchased a technical product that wasn’t properly vetted by a member of IT, and when it failed to work with the existing systems, the network or simply lacked key features, things got pretty ugly. This sort of activity has been going on for a few decades now. In fact, I have seen marketing execs even go as far as sneaking technical purchases, just so they could buy what they wanted without having to ask the IT departments permission. This has created some bad blood in and across the casino industry and although this is a taboo subject, I figured I would expose the problem since I have worked in both IT and as a marketing advisor.

Press play to listen to the audio version of this article

Marketing & Information Technology Teams are Stronger When United by Christopher Swanger

Time for Change

These days it is so important for information technology and marketing teams to work together. It is essential for them to work as a team to provide the best possible experience for the casino and for their target audience. It is more important than ever that the IT person be knowledgeable about the functions of the marketing department. In the gaming world, it is imperative to have a decent amount of marketing knowledge even when you’re working in information technology. Some casino operators are even beginning to require that IT execs have education and experience within the marketing realm and they’re also looking for marketing experts who have more of a technical background. This is a good thing for everyone. Not only does it add a new skillset but it also allows IT to have much more in common with their marketing counterparts.

Courtesy of iStock

Focus Areas for IT

There are a few important areas that every IT professional should be proficient in. Here are a few of them;

  • CRM integrations
  • Social media advertising
  • Casino loyalty programs
  • Interface psychology
  • Customer acquisition tools
  • Customer engagement tools

These are just some of the areas that IT folks should have some exposure to, so they provide great service to their marketing teammates.

Below, I will go through each one of these areas of marketing and why it’s important to have knowledge about them.

CRM Integrations

For casino operators, the CRM and loyalty systems are the lifeblood of the operation. These systems are responsible for keep existing patrons coming back to the property and inspiring new patrons to make their first trip. CRMs are only as good as the data that gets moved in and out of them from other systems. Having a good idea of which data elements are critical to marketing will help to provide the marketing team with better advice when it comes to integration sources that they may not be thinking about.

Social Media Ads

As an IT professional, it is imperative that you get acclimated to the advertising options that are available within the relevant social media platforms. There are APIs and complex configuration options involved in the ad creation and reporting process. There can be a multitude of third-party plug-ins and tools that can be used to optimize ads which can provide the gaming operation with better conversions rates and higher profits. You will find that social media ad platforms are fun, sophisticated and effective when they are deployed properly. If you want to learn more about this, you can create some test ads in most of the social media platforms. This is an area that can turn you into a true rock star in IT.

Casino Loyalty Programs

Having knowledge about casino loyalty programs seems like an obvious need, but many IT professionals merely understand these systems at a basic level. Sure, they know how to configure them and how to keep them up and running but in many cases, they lack an understanding of how aspirational marketing programs work. The other area that is imperative to understand is the math behind patron reinvestment model along with things like ADT along with the array of attributes that help marketing decide how much to offer a patron to keep them coming back to the casino. All of this must be accomplished without giving them so much that it costs the operation money.

Courtesy of iStock

Interface Psychology

In UX design, there are college courses you can take on UX design and interface psychology. This is one of the most important factors in digital engagement. When you design a GUI with the right colors, white space, fonts, images, and call-to-action, you’re much more likely to get the end user to engage. Many developers build applications that function well, but they end up scratching their heads when it comes to a lack of engagement or conversion. Much of the time, problems like this can be attributed to a lack of proper design and best practices. If you get the chance, you should consider taking a course or reading a book on the philosophy of UX design.

Customer Acquisition Tools

Customer acquisition tools do not need to be complex. They can come in the form of a contest which requires a physical or digital form to be completed. You can simply add some opt-in language to these contests which gives the casino the right to communicate with the patron in the future. Acquiring contact data is like mining for gold – it’s a numbers game. The more data you collect, the better chance you have at increasing visitation once you communicate with those customers. It’s a good idea to have your finger on the pulse of acquisition tools that work well in the gaming industry. When marketing shows up to the meeting with an acquisition problem, you just might be the one who solves it.

Client Engagement Tools

Client engagement tools can come in many forms. They can be as simple as a wall poster with a call to action, a mobile app, a website or digital signage. It’s great when IT professionals can assist in making these things work, but when they understand the end game, they will be able to provide valuable ideas, insights and innovations to take products and campaigns to the next level.

Be a Team Player

If you make it a point to be a team player and become more knowledgeable about another department’s core areas of responsibility, the products they use, and the mission at hand, you will be more successful in the future. If you aspire to climb the corporate ladder and become a high-level executive like a VP or GM, this is just the kind of thing that will get you there. You can start by asking for cross-training and then continue by adding an online class or two. In any case, it won’t hurt you to learn more and be an excellent team member. You’ll be more valuable to any operator you decide to work for and can likely demand a higher salary for it.

Christopher Swanger is a technology veteran in the gaming industry and has worked both as a vendor and an operator. He is a Go-To-Market expert who helps companies establish relevance and value within the gaming and hospitality sector. As a proponent for innovation, Chris writes for Gaming & Leisure Magazine to help tell the stories that his technology partners and colleagues deem important to the betterment of the gaming industry. You can learn more about Chris at Contact Christopher.