Last week I attended Bingo World, a convention held in Las Vegas, where I spoke on a panel on best e-mail practices. Bingo World is an interesting confluence of personalities. On the one hand, you have big business as represented by the Indian gambling community. On the other, you have small nonprofit charity groups running a bingo game out of the church basement.

But one thing everybody has in common: physical proximity to their client base. While there certainly are online-only players, the bingo community is a very social one and much of the interaction is location-based. People go to church basements and casinos to engage in their bingo passion. And unlike other forms of gambling, those in the bingo community talk amongst themselves.

Developing a successful e-mail program for this community, therefore, involves some unique challenges. According to Roxy Rosen of the marketing company Liquid Traffic, which specializes in the gaming market sector, it is vital that marketers targeting the bingo community take extra care in the area of customer support. She recommends that the customer support e-mail address and even phone number be prominently displayed in each e-mail marketing message.



Paying close attention to feedback and complaints is vital, and list owners must take immediate action to deal with unsubscribes, making sure they are removed immediately from the database. Because of the social nature of the audience, word of mouth can have an immediate and dramatic effect on success. In other words, don't mess around with Grannie.

One of the advantages from a list building standpoint is that most Bingo outfits physically see their clients, making it easy to target and build an e-mail list. According to a survey conducted by Liquid Traffic, 44.8 percent of all bingo players like playing live rather than online, while 50.8 percent prefer online play. The demographic skews older, with the average age being 42. Also, the majority likes to play as frequently as possible--and while poker is the most popular game outside of bingo for these players, 42 percent don't play anything else but bingo.

I took a look at the bingo e-mails in our E-mail Analyst tool and discovered that while there were many e-mails sent by companies with "bingo" in their title, as a group they underperformed (from the point of view of traffic driving) compared with the overall gambling and gaming market. I think that much of the poor performance of these e-mails comes from the fact that, for the most part, marketers in this sector make every mistake in the book when it comes to avoiding spam filters. The use of "do not use" words such as "free," "cash," and the use of dollar signs in the subject line run rampant in bingo e-mails, making them a prime target of most of the spam filters out there.

It was also clear from the audience I addressed that e-mail is a new concept to this market sector. I came away from the conference with one big idea: the bingo sector is ripe for someone who wants to do e-mail right. Here is a void waiting to be filled.

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