Consumer behavior changed rapidly when the COVID-19 pandemic hit. Many retailers closed their doors, individuals hunkered down inside their homes, and lotteries were faced with the challenge of how to encourage players to safely continue to purchase and play. During this time, the Georgia Lottery Corporation was poised to succeed. How did one of America’s largest lotteries experience 250% year-over-year (YOY) sales growth in iLottery during the turbulence caused by COVID-19? They had the right plan at the right time. Karri Paavilainen, IGT Senior Director PlayLottery, and Andrea Williams, IGT Senior Marketing Manager PlayLottery, work closely with the Lottery, supporting the planning and execution of strategies and analytics for its digital channel. They unpacked the Lottery’s strategy for success at the recent SBC Digital Summit North America.
At the close of 2019, the Georgia Lottery’s digital sales were already up 50% YOY, and prior to the pandemic’s arrival in the United States, the Lottery was focused on increasing playership of its branded eInstants – Diggi Games – with a new marketing campaign. When COVID-19 began to surge, the Lottery was prepared to meet the challenge, working with IGT’s digital marketing team to adapt their plan for the evolving situation. Marketing teams from both the Lottery and IGT worked together to assess the situation, review the possibilities, and change and execute the plans as quickly as possible.
First, messaging used for traditional marketing was quickly and seamlessly pivoted from driving foot traffic into retailers to encouraging online play within the safety of one’s home and educating players about Diggi Games. Vanity URLs allowed for easy data capture and tracking.
In addition to standard digital player marketing, which included digital ads encouraging play, the Lottery created digital experiences to give their players something to look forward to. Social media contests awarded Diggi Game play value, and weekly “Lunch with the Lottery” livestreams enabled the Lottery to directly engage with players and promote its various games and offerings.
The Lottery’s focus on player data enabled an understanding of player habits, including what games and how often players were playing. In turn, this information was leveraged to created hyper-timely, targeted player communications, including first-time deposit emails or messaging specific to a certain often-played theme.
This wealth of data also helped inform the creation of new game content. By tapping into themes and bonuses they knew players already liked, the Lottery was able to create games with a higher chance of success. Additionally, constant evaluation and shifting of the Lottery’s digital offerings helped encourage sales.
The Lottery took a very proactive approach to customer service, recognizing in advance the need for players – specifically new players – to be well-taken care of should they have any questions. A new group of customer service representatives were trained before the pandemic hit in full force, resulting in a very strong and positive customer service experience.
Lastly, technical enhancements put in place before the onset of COVID-19 helped ensure that the infrastructure was ready to support the influx of new players. The Lottery has seen zero down time anywhere related to their Diggi Games during the pandemic.
While the Lottery already had a plan in place for Diggi Games, taking a proactive approach to the COVID-19 pandemic helped adjust the plan to ensure its success, even during uncertain times. By examining the data at hand, being adaptable and agile, re-prioritizing for the situation, and collaborating across functionalities, the Diggi Games campaign connected existing and new players to light entertainment and games they love, contributing to the Lottery’s record sales growth and ensuring long-term Diggi Games success.
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