“You need to excite your players with your creativity,” noted Pini Yakuel, Optimove CEO, in a far reaching near 15 minute conversation as the industry recently gathered once again at London’s ExCeL.

As the noise and furore of a hectic showfloor nearly put paid to our interview time, a quiet (ish) corner was eventually found to delve into marketers’ biggest mistakes, M&A driven momentum, a native SMS addition, responsible gambling and ChatGPT clamour.

With two expansive wings demonstrating innovative progression and a determination to press ahead, Yakuel was quizzed on the most common error committed by igaming marketers.

“From my perspective, in many cases they’re just relying on plain vanilla communication that everybody’s doing. They’re not differentiating themselves in any way,” he said.

With the focus firmly placed on retention and relationship marketing, the key necessity to create separation and not lazily rely on the basics was hammered home.

“We live in a world where we are overexposed to content, especially if you live in a big city”

As the need to delve into data and think of a deeper strategy was touched upon, Yakuel noted: “The channels need to be synced up, it needs to be multi-channel, it needs to be creative, you need to excite your players with your creativity. And if you’re not able to do that, you’re going to lag behind.”

Amid talk of a vanilla approach and potential lack of inventiveness, talk inescapably lead to that personalisation. A point reiterated in detail in a bespoke presentation on the Optimove stand.

“It’s very simple, right? We live in a world where we are overexposed to content, especially if you live in a big city,” he explained. 

“You just walk in the street, and you’ve got information trying to penetrate your brain, whether you want it or not. So, people kind of become dull to stimulation. So the only thing that can get somebody stimulated, or get your attention, is when it really means something to you.”

The necessity to adopt a relevant and engaging approach, by talking about appropriate things to relevant people, as opposed to the exact opposite, which was labelled lethargic, led Yakuel to end his answer with “it’s as simple as that. That’s personalisation to me.”

Optimove has certainly endured a busy last 12-18 months, with a number of key partnerships inked, including a key alliance alongside bet365 that was labelled as a “monumental day,” “huge validation” and “proudest moment of my career” by Motti Colman, Senior Director of Sales, at last year’s SBC Summit Barcelona.

This was also complemented by moves into the M&A space as Optimove looked to continue forging ahead, with Kumulos and Graphyte each brought onboard.

“SMS is proven to be a very valuable marketing channel”

However, despite the talk of maintaining this recent momentum, as Yakuel suggests, it not as simple as just looking as the recent past.

“The momentum is, we can look at the 12 month period, but ultimately, it’s longer than that. Often people will talk about the flywheel effect, so it’s kind of like the notion of momentum in physics. And once it builds up, it starts to behave like an exponential curve. 

“But I would say, the last 12 months have been mostly about new relationships with some partners, we’re super happy with our American investor as we see things eye to eye and we have ambitious plans. The strategy is pretty simple, we want to continue to become the smartest brain for marketing out there.”

With this ambition in mind, talk logically travelled to that of an introduction of OptiText at the turn of the year,  a move hailed as “a huge step forward in our quest to become a one-stop shop marketing platform” at the time.

The native tool aims to empower marketers to utilise customer data to create, orchestrate, and measure hyper-personalised SMS campaigns at scale, which is designed to complement a suite of marketing channels that already covers web, social, mobile, and email.

Despite acknowledging past scepticism, Yakuel detailed an explosion across the last few years as people started to realise that “if you just use SMS instead of email, those campaigns drive awesome results”.

“The jury’s still out on how it’s going to play out in the future with things like WhatsApp,” he said, however, as it stands today Yakuel highlighted that for now “SMS is proven to be a very valuable marketing channel”.

“We made a lot of noise in 2022, now it’s time to make sure it all works out”

However, driven by the capabilities of past acquisitions, a decision to build in-house rather than try and palette a third acquisitive target was the option taken by the company. “Today it’s one of the most profitable channels, so we just had to do it,” Yakuel noted.

Despite an increased focus being placed tech such as AI chatbot ChatGPT, Yakuel dampened such talk by stating that “I think jury’s still out,” before the conversation turned to that of responsible gambling.

Yakuel began by noting that a lot of operators, “especially the big ones” like to own such pieces of tech as “they want to show the market that they’re owning this”.

However, he elaborated on an overall basis: “I think it’s really important. I think it’s amazing, I think it’s what makes this industry a positive, because if you can control who’s playing, if somebody has the discipline and regiment to gamble responsibly, for example if they say they’re going to wager 100 pounds a month, can afford it and I enjoy it. So if it stays like this, it’s really good.” 

Adding that continuing to adopt such responsible principles and practices are “critical for the success and survival of the betting industry in the future”.

To conclude, Yakuel stressed a need to simply “keep an executing,” as well as integrating acquired company’s and continuing investment in tech innovation and talent.

“That’s 2023. We made a lot of noise in 2022, now it’s time to make sure it all works out,” he closed.