In May 2021, Columbia University polled 1,200+ U.S. adults, asking them what they missed most throughout the past 14 months of the pandemic.
The answer? Large, in-person social gatherings—namely, sports. It even outranked travel.
Sports has long been a passion for billions of people across the globe. But deregulation, coupled with the boundless power of mobile apps, has made sports betting just as much a part of the action as anything else.
When bets can be placed anywhere, anytime, the action’s not exclusively on the field (or court, pitch, or rink).
Why the global sports betting industry matters
Over the last 20 years, the global sports betting industry has picked up incredible momentum:
The gross gambling yield (GGY) in Great Britain increased from roughly 8.4 billion British pounds in 2011 to approximately 14.4 billion British pounds in 2018—and it’s only grown in the years since.
While sports betting has been legal in Nevada since 1949, the industry has seen rocketship growth after 2018, when sports wagering was derestricted nationwide. As of this writing, sports betting is legalized in more than 15 states.
Collectively, the global sports betting industry reached a market size of $203 billion USD in 2020, and is poised to grow by $134.06 billion USD by 2024.
Sports betting accounts for 30-40% of global gambling revenue, and over 45% of all sports bets are placed via mobile phone.
“Virtually all sports bettors have used an online sportsbook in the past year, and about half use an online sportsbook at least monthly,” said Adriana Waterston, senior vice president, Insights and Strategy, for Horowitz Research.
In so many words, sports betting is only getting larger, more mobile, and faster paced. With that much money in play, laser focus on reducing bugs and improving the sports betting experience can save millions.
Why is the mobile betting experience so important?
Initially, you might think the sports betting industry has a lot in common with ecommerce. After all, money is directly exchanged for a good, whether that’s a pair of shoes or a bet. But the similarities end there.
While that pair of shoes will still be there tomorrow, the window of time for a sports bet is rapidly closing. Sports events happen once, then never again. This increases the pressure for mobile sports betting apps and services to execute perfectly and swiftly, each and every time.
When misfires happen, and when the user experience is threatened, the outcome can be declining trust, with thousands of dollars on the line per user.
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By placing focus on optimizing betting user experience, organizations can keep users’ heads in the game. Here’s how to make it happen:
4 Ways to optimize mobile betting user experiences
1. Focus on navigation
An app that isn’t obvious or intuitive to navigate will ultimately leave users frustrated. Many users are trying to place time-sensitive bets during an event, which makes an intuitive navigation that much more critical.
If your users don’t know how to place a bet within fractions of a second, they’ll give up. Every site or app’s navigation best practices are different, and what works for a big-box retailer might be very different from what works for your mobile betting app.
And it’s more than just a bad user experience—depending on your local regulations, site navigability may be a matter of legal compliance, where it can’t be easier to bet than withdraw money.
2. Prioritize registration
Once bettors learn how to bet, it’s critical that they stick around for a while. Just as ecommerce stores and many quick-service restaurants encourage registration—setting up an account, compared to staying a guest—sports gaming institutions should follow suit.
Why? The lifetime value (LTV) of a non-registered user is dramatically lower than a registered user. Emphasis placed on this part of the betting process will pay dividends later.
3. Enhance the checkout experience
Once users know how and where to place a bet, the checkout funnel is likely the next area of opportunity. Cleanly defined as a series of actions you want an end-user to take, a funnel differs from app to app and site to site, depending on industry.
For sports betting, an example funnel could be:
Navigate to betting page
Navigate to checkout page
Input payment information
Navigate to payment completed page
Each step of this process affords an opportunity to reduce friction. Investigate the entire user experience: buttons, text, navigability, and every other touchpoint.
4. Put yourself (privately) in your users’ shoes
In so many words, sports betting is all about experience. Users need to feel enjoyment from the place where they’re betting, and also need to trust in what’s going on. There’s a baseline expectation of a solid user experience.
More than that, digital optimization technologies often play fast and loose with your users’ personally identifiable information (PII). Ensure that any experience optimization technology on your app has privacy, security, and trust baked in to prevent legal and ethical grey areas, and keep users returning for the next big game.
Ultimately, mobile sports betting organizations must focus on digital experience intelligence (DXI) to eliminate friction points and keep users engaged.
By combining quantitative and qualitative data for comprehensive understanding, product teams at gaming organizations can perfect their apps.
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