What was your background before Fast Track Solutions?
I’ve been in the gaming industry for quite some time. I started my career at Betfair where I spent three or four years, then I jumped over to Spain and then came back to Malta to work for Betsson for about four years. All in all, I’ve been in the industry for about 13 years for different companies, including Fast Track.
You co-founded Fast Track in 2016. How did the idea for the company first come about?
Fast Track has a little bit of a history, because we didn’t work with CRM initially. We started working with white-label casinos as a growth partner. We came onboard with a number of partners who were launching new casinos on what was at the time GiG’s platform. Fast Track would then provide our expertise within the online gaming space with product experience and then resources for technology development for the sites. It’s all still part of our business, but it’s a very small part of the business right now.
Shortly after we launched one of the first casinos, we started looking for tools in the market that we could use internally, but we couldn’t really find anything fit for purpose. As quite a small team, we knew we needed to alternate and do it in a smart way, so we were looking for something that could cater as a multi-channel solution. That’s when we decided to develop our own; purely intended to be used internally.
One year later, when we came over to ICE London scouting for new opportunities for growth partners in the casino market, we ended up sitting in a coffee shop by the entrance getting approached by all these people asking how we managed to get such great results on the partners that we were working with. We explained to everyone that a very large reason for that was because we had these capabilities from a technology perspective in CRM. That’s when the wheels were set in motion.
Why do you specialise in gaming? Have you thought about branching out into other industries?
That was exactly the problem we found with every other system in the market. They were built for a different industry and then they tried to port it over to online gaming. A traditional ecommerce web shop is very different to how a player engages with an online casino brand. Their segmentation models were quite limited and it was hard to expand on that. They were quite bulky to work with. We knew what an efficient workflow had to look like from our perspective, because we knew where time was spent. That was why we initially had to build it for ourselves, because we couldn’t find an alternative in the market that was built for online gaming and fit for purpose.
There is always an issue with being responsible with CRM - especially in gaming. How can the industry improve in this field?
We can only provide the best possible enablers for the operators to give the best possible service. I can see the industry moving towards a more sensible approach toward this with the tools surrounding it. We have models that we have generated inside the CRM to help indentify how healthy your players are and if you need to investigate any potential problem gambling issues. We have done all of the consents, dealing with the player feedback in a real-time fashion. It’s well positioned to deal with that. Even the regulatory landscape plays into it, because they set a lot of requirements on their end which needs to be managed by the CRM and monitored. If you’re operating in four or five markets, you need to be able to trust the system you’re working with is giving you the heads up in case you need to act on something.
To what extent has the new GDPR law made things more of a challenge?
It is challenging for anyone to live up to the laws. I think the fact our system was real-time based and that we had a customer segmentation model has allowed us to deal with that, by making sure that consents have always been up to date. We have never had any issues with that stuff. Our system has always been holstered within the operator’s infrastructure. We don’t need access to the players’ data which has always made it easier because they can set up their own data agreements.
How do you feel the company has changed and grown over the three or so years that it has been active?
It’s been quite exciting. We’ve been growing very organically. Fast Track has three founders and right from the beginning we put our own money into it, so we’ve been growing quite responsibly, but taking the opportunities when we can. With operators coming on board, I think the brand has achieved a lot of respect in the market. After ICE London this year, we had about 140 operators that we needed to follow up with. Our growth has accelerated now in comparison with previous years, and in terms of new business, we have shifted our focus completely to CRM.
Fast Track suggests how “moments” can be used to achieve the highest levels of acquisition and retention. Can you explain a bit about how these can be used effectively within online gaming?
We believe the key is to target the player at the right moment with a relevant offering on the most receptive channel. Knowing when to engage with a player is a very important part. Traditionally, it’s been very much focused on how long ago a player was engaging with you, but we look at predicting when the player is most likely to return and engage when they’ve deviated from that behaviour. That way we can create a moment of how probable a player is to return. If you take for example, players who only play on payday, they shouldn’t be considered inactive until they don’t return on the next payday. Most of the companies work with historical data fields in order to determine these things, while we use moments to do that. Thinking in moments ensures that your engagement agenda is very purposeful.
What do you believe is the future for CRM?
Organisations right now need to digitalise their entire organisation. That is something that is going to change quite a lot moving forward. To be really successful in CRM, all your different systems and platforms need to be working in an orchestrated way. The way we work right now, in moving between different platforms and systems and being completely dependent on human interaction to do so, is not really scalable when you start thinking about a one-to-one approach and personalisation.
I believe the future retention marketing strategy will be very focused on what people are doing on site while the players are actually with you, rather than engaging when the player is not on the site, which is how most CRM’s work at the moment. The key is to engage and create lifecycles while being on the brand.