The lowdown on welcome bonuses

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There are many factors that could inspire someone not only to start online gaming, but to choose a new favourite iGaming provider. The market is awash with variations on ways to game online, and the variety is what keeps the market competition so healthy. But, what factors are essential in not only gaining new clientele but also retaining them as future go-to gamers? One key factor is the welcome bonus.

Does the Welcome Bonus Work for Providers?

Welcome bonuses are initially designed in order to attract players to a gaming site and are a relatively low cost promotion to achieve this. In a University of Tartu thesis, Kristjan Sirge found that the net loss of welcome bonuses was low (with the correlation falling between 0.1 and 0.2, indicating very little correlation for loss and welcome bonuses) – and argued that they are a viable incentive. Indeed, some casino sites offer rewards for the first deposit made, some offer rewards just for signing up. The idea is to use the promotion to capture the attention of the customer, and then use the power of the games on the site to keep them playing. The Harvard Business Review argues that a conversion rate of 5% for all free trials offered would result in a successful promotion – which doesn’t sound a lot depending on total site traffic.

The two main types of welcome bonuses – often called no deposit bonuses, if the site is offering the bonus before any of the player’s money is taken – are free money offers and free spins offers. Free money offers give players, for example, £10 off their first deposit on an online five-reel slot. An alternative is the way in which Footy Index Scout offers cashback for people who sign up to take advantage of the football betting indices. Free spins offer the first few spins for free, and then once the player begins to get the hang of the game, they can try for real. Welcome bonuses act almost like a practice round of the game – allowing the player to test the water before they commit to actual cash (or bitcoin).

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Does the Welcome Bonus Work for Players?

But can welcome bonuses keep people gaming with the games provider? The clue is in their title – they are bonuses to welcome players to the game, not bonuses that players can receive throughout. While some players will abandon a game site once they’ve exhausted their welcome bonuses, some do manage to retain their customers. One way of doing this is through prolonging the welcome bonus. This tends to happen more often with casinos that work with the bigger providers such as NetEnt or Microgaming, and to some it’s a sign that a casino is confident in their offering, both in terms of variety and platform. For example, Betway Casino offer their customers a bonus across the first 3 deposits, rather than one as a one-off. This works not only to entice new customers to the site, but also to allow them a chance to fully investigate what games on offer they may be interested in playing, and once they find one that might match the content or gameplay they are interested in, they will be more likely to be retained as customers.

The Small Print is Important

Some welcome bonuses do come with an added caveat of a playthrough requirement – that is a number of games needing to be played before the bonus can be redeemed. This works much the same way and the site is prepared for players to leave the site once they have achieved their bonus, if the site isn’t to their taste. But, with the right preparation and by studying the best methods for playing poker, blackjack or even slots, the player can use the welcome bonus to hone their skills as they learn the ropes. Indeed, professional iGamer Mike Stevens advocates Bayes’ theorem, which involves accumulating all possible information before making a decision. By having access to welcome bonuses, players can begin collecting gameplay information on their own abilities before having to commit to properly playing the game.

There can be issues involved with welcome bonuses, however. Players should analyse the bonus as all bonuses differ in terms of the maximum amount the bonus equates to and how much of the player’s own money should be deposited before the bonus pays off.

Not just a friendly incentive to get someone playing with a site, welcome bonuses may also even improve players’ gameplay. Indeed, as we’ve discussed in the past, setting targets for playing online may help improve the game – with small increments of monetary earnings increasing weekly as the player improves, especially so in skill-based games. Welcome bonuses may help the initial weeks to be successful, by making the targets more achievable. Psychologically, if the player feels they are not losing any money, any doubts they may have about playing the game will evaporate.

Overall, welcome bonuses can provide the necessary nudge for potential players to turn into long-term fans and are a positive move for both the site offering the bonus and the player redeeming the bonus. The content of the site should then work on the customer retention.

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