Digital marketing pioneer Engaged Nation, coming off a second consecutive record-breaking year, plans to launch a variety of new offerings at introductory rates at the Indian Gaming Tradeshow & Convention.
In the past two years, interactive digital engagement has grown exponentially and firmly established itself as a critical marketing component for the casino industry and beyond, according to Jerry Epstein, CEO of the Las Vegas-based company that posted its second consecutive year of record earnings in 2021.
“Since COVID, the world has really changed regarding digital engagement,” Epstein said. “In the last two years and now as we head into the National Indian Gaming Association conference, things have never been so exciting. We’re now the leader in the casino industry when it comes to digital engagement.”
With growth driven by the digital boom during the pandemic, Epstein cited a study by Forbes verifying that U.S. adults consume seven hours of digital media per day – more time than they spend sleeping.
Epstein said companies are eager to embark on a digital journey, but they don’t know what to do and how to do it. Engaged Nation is showing them the way.
“Digital engagement is now clearly a marketing requirement and our proprietary REACH system has set the standard in results-driven digital nurturing,” Epstein said. “Our ongoing continuous program methodology has proven itself to help make digital marketing and engagement meaningful to players and financially beneficial to our online and land-based casino clients.”
Transitioning the average player from more traditional forms of promotional outreach to digital requires a thoughtful strategy for both short and long-term goals, Epstein said.
“The key in large part – just like with traditional media buys, direct mail, and most marketing initiatives – is consistency, reach, and frequency,” Epstein said. “It’s virtually impossible to make an impact and change player behavior with one-off campaigns. Effective and results-driven digital engagement now needs to be an ongoing part of the marketing mix. That’s why we offer the complete package, from email to branded interactive engagement portals.”
Engaged Nation offers a seasoned team of casino, technology, and digital marketing experts to help develop and guide properties on a successful digital path, Epstein said. The campaigns EN designs are proven to deliver positive results by effectively driving a call to action with any target audience. Program designs include driving incremental revenue from an active database, halting and reversing trends of a declining player, and reactivating lapsed players.
“We try to bring the brand to life in a fun and engaging way,” Epstein said. “We create an emotional experience and emotions drive our decisions by more than 300% over information context and product attributes. People get jazzed by going to a property and playing our games. We can drive additional trips, greater engagement, and a greater bond between the player and the property. It’s absolutely turning out to be a competitive advantage.”
Once the audience is determined, the EN process then builds a custom-designed interactive program that aligns with a casino’s priorities, such as increasing hotel bookings while eliminating online travel agency fees, boosting the download and adoption of casino apps, driving concert sales, increasing the results of on-floor promotions, and generating sports book wagering. In all cases, EN works with each client to determine the most effective strategy and program implementation.
“We look to the properties to tell us what their pain point is and in so many cases, it’s the reactivation of inactive players,” Epstein said. “We just have a great way of converting people. Ten years ago, properties said, ‘I don’t want them online. I want them playing at our property.’ Right now, you’re vying for their digital time and if you can break through and connect with them, that means not only are they having fun at your property, but they’re also enjoying your brand experience at home.”
One of those options is what they call “edutainment.” People are educated in an entertaining way about a product or service, Epstein said. With an uptick in digital engagement, people are seeking out fun and entertainment, not only at the property but at home.
“We provide what properties do on the floor and bring that to life online. This keeps players connected with a properties’ brand in a fun and rewarding way. We take a look at recruiting them with our games, rewarding them, and the key here is retaining them,” Epstein said. “We’ve learned this over time and one of our big messages at NIGA is that we will highlight continuous ongoing engagement, because it’s so much more effective than a one-off. You want to maintain your connection with a player year-round. Would a property do only one direct mail, billboard, or radio spot? Of course not. It’s reach and frequency.”
The foundational outreach for Engaged Nation begins with email. The company has established itself as the premier email provider in the casino industry with more than 80 clients and 60 million annual sends through its exclusive use of the Salesforce Marketing Cloud, Epstein said. Offering three different levels of service plans and a close working relationship with Salesforce, land-based casinos and online sportsbooks can take advantage of the email platform that boasts the expertise of the Engaged Nation email specialist team, Epstein said.
In addition, Engaged Nation is expanding its gamified mechanics offerings to its email-only clients and is in the process of becoming an Official Partner of Salesforce. One of the email specials on offer at NIGA is $500 introductory pricing on an interactive rewards campaign.
Epstein said the current digital marketplace is referred to as the “Age of Digital Clutter.” People are more overwhelmed today than they were before the pandemic started.
“As we go into NIGA, we’re asking properties if they’re digitally relevant and effectively breaking through to engage and create a stronger relationship with their players for their brand, property, and their promotions,” Epstein said. “We’re about to finish an incentive rewards program, to be released later this year, which I think is going to be a gamechanger for email distribution. People will be incentivized to open and read email and rewarded for doing that.”
Engaged Nation’s client roster is realizing that a 24/7/365 digital nurturing of their player database produces greater results – more player loyalty and spend – than a one-time or intermittent approach, Epstein said. To accommodate this increasing demand, Engaged Nation will introduce a managed Digital Engagement subscription service at NIGA.
Rather than paying larger fees for an individual campaign, casinos can realize the full power of digital nurturing and amortize their costs over six to 24 months of player engagement, Epstein said. The NIGA subscription-service special starts at a monthly fee of $3,500 based on the length of the subscription after the initial site build.
Engaged Nation’s sports-themed programming has consistently delivered significant results for casinos, from helping to build a qualified database to driving more wagering, especially as more and more states legalize sports betting, Epstein said. To best serve this fast-growing segment, Engaged Nation has added additional sports-specific features to their programs, including game- day pick ’em challenges and upgrading their bracket and statistical-predictions functionality. The “NIGA sports-betting promotion special” features a $100,000 insured prop card that starts at $5,975.
“The year 2021 inspired us to achieve a three-peat in growth for 2022,” Epstein said. “To do this, we’re offering a variety of new cost-effective programs and are finalizing agreements with some of the industry’s biggest, most respected, and innovative companies. We’ve already completed successful campaigns and are developing new business-to-business-to-consumer programs for Light & Wonder, Konami, Everi, TPI, Global Payments, IGT, Salesforce, and Inspire Hub.”
Engaged Nation’s roster features the iconic brands of Anheuser-Busch, including Michelob Ultra, Stella Artois, and their emerging Hard Seltzers and sodas, the NFL, Jack Link’s, and some of the largest chains in the nation, including Rite Aid, Walgreens, and 7-Eleven.
“We are now the go-to firm for proven strategic digital-engagement and nurturing programs, ” Epstein said. “We take great pride in the innovative national programs we’ve designed and implemented beyond the casino industry. Coming off one of the most successful Bud Light digital campaigns ever with our insured March Mania promotion, we’ve now completed nearly twenty regional and national campaigns for major national and global companies.”
Engaged Nation was hired by Anheuser Busch with all their brands when, during COVID, they saw their sales dropping, especially at convenience stores, Epstein said.
“Nobody was driving and getting gas,” Epstein said. “They asked us to design a campaign that would connect with people, help build a new customer database, and drive people to make purchases. The variety of campaigns we produced and managed produced a customer database of more than 150,000 and an increase in Michelob Ultra sales of 64% when the other convenience store sales were down.”
“Quantifiable results continue to fuel our growth. We look forward to developing branded digital-engagement programs that are a win-win “” fun for players and profitable for our clients.”
Engaged Nation will be in booth No. 562.