When you have a complex problem, you need a simple solution. In Sportsbet’s case, they’ve gone through an incredible journey transitioning off an incumbent tech stack. This is a modern MarTech tale for many organisations today offering valuable lessons and insight for businesses facing similar challenges. Let’s unpack.
Established in 2011, Sportsbet is a digital eCommerce leader in Australia's online wagering sector, serving over 2 million customers. Operating with a mobile-first, app-driven strategy, the company manages enormous amounts of first-party data. Despite the goldmine, Sportsbet encountered persistent challenges when it came to customer engagement and communication.
Recognising the need for a digital transformation, Sportsbet partnered with The Lumery to revamp its MarTech Stack, choosing to integrate Braze as their go-to platform.
The Lumery sat down with Nick Laidler, Head of MarTech at Sportsbet, to explore the company's journey—from its initial struggle with legacy systems to the seamless transition and implementation of Braze.
The Origin of the Problem
"In 2018, we hit a wall," recalls Nick. "It became painfully clear that our existing legacy marketing automation tools just weren't cutting it.
During a steering committee meeting, they discussed three pathways: maintain the status quo, do a little bit of evolution, or take a revolutionary leap.
“Unfortunately, the decision was to simply 'clean up' our existing platform without making any groundbreaking changes,” Nick said.
This "middle-of-the-road" approach only delayed the inevitable. "It was like having a chipped tooth," Nick adds. "You might not feel the pain immediately but neglect it long enough and it becomes unbearable."
The Decision to Act: Finding the Right Vendor
Sportsbet launched a RFI/RFP process not just to find a technological solution, but a strategic partner to help them evolve their customer engagement capabilities.
"When we first started building momentum for this program in 2021, we knew our specialisation on existing systems could hinder us finding new approaches. We needed external, best-practice support," Nick explained.
"Some of the best elements of our relationship with The Lumery emerged early on, during the tender phase. Their strategic guidance helped us make foundational decisions that have since yielded significant results. At the time, we didn’t fully recognize the importance of those early choices," Nick said.
Justifying the MarTech Business Case: The Lumery Playing Devil’s Advocate
As Sportsbet approached the end of their RFP process and geared up to secure internal investment for the new technology, they faced a pivotal moment: getting buy-in.
"We were at this crossroads, grappling with the reality that our current tools just weren't cutting it for customer engagement, especially within our app, which is our prime asset as a digital-only business with rich first-party data,"
“The question was not just about choosing between this stage or that stage, but how we wanted to fundamentally redefine our interactions with customers across varied contexts."
To make a compelling case, Sportsbet realised it needed to focus on impactful, real-time conversations with its customers over 'perfect' technological solutions that were slow to provide actionable insights.
"The Lumery helped us prioritize what was crucial now versus what could be addressed later. It’s those early strategic decisions, advised by The Lumery, that have put us on the path to a successful transformation.”
The Lumery served as the much-needed devil's advocate, ensuring that Sportsbet didn't just chase after the latest trends but focused on building a robust, adaptable engagement strategy.
“This is one of those programs that could have easily veered off course. Looking back, the decisions and alignment we had with The Lumery ensured that we could deliver a successful program, a year down the line, long after the tenders and implementations were done," Nick said.
Operating Rhythms and Implementation: Leveraging Braze and its Capability
It began with a strategic planning phase.
"We debated the architecture, the audience segmentation, and the messaging platform. Even though we had our own architecture teams, The Lumery brought a fresh perspective that helped refine our long-term vision," said Nick.
Crawl, Walk, Run: A Phased Implementation Approach
The Lumery guided Sportsbet through a methodical 'crawl, walk, run' implementation approach.
- In the crawl phase, The Lumery did most of the configuration while Sportsbet observed to learn.
- During the walk phase, it became a collaborative 50/50 effort, setting things up together.
- Finally, in the run phase, Sportsbet took on the bulk of the implementation, relegating The Lumery to a consultancy role.
Empowering Marketers for Creative Experimentation
With The Lumery's guidance, Sportsbet's marketing team transitioned from process operators to creative strategists.
"The Lumery helped us automate the process-oriented tasks, freeing our marketers to engage in more creative, problem-solving roles,” Nick said.
Why this is a good thing: Creative experimentation has revitalised Sportbet’s marketing team's engagement with their work. They are now able to exercise greater autonomy and curiosity by asking “what happens if I pull this lever” or “what if I try this approach?”
The Final Chapter: Moving to the New World on Braze
For Sportsbet, the metrics of success have undergone a radical transformation. "In the past, our lack of visibility meant a high-engagement campaign could only be sending a message en masse and operating on a hope-for-the-best strategy," Nick said.
But now Sportsbet use a data-led approach where success is quantified by much more nuanced parameters, with 'speed to insight' being the most significant game-changer.
On the project outcome The Lumery’s Head of Solution Architecture Kevin Nugegoda commented,
“Working with the Sportsbet team on this transformational project was both exciting and rewarding. The best results are always achieved by like-minded experts challenging each other in a collaborative space. Sportsbet leaned into the insights and expertise provided by The Lumery, challenged us with nuances to their scenarios, use cases and regulatory requirements, and then made informed decisions that guided the final solution to meet their own unique business needs.”
With the implementation of Braze, the CMO at Sportsbet can now access real-time insights and effectively analyse the impact of their campaigns. For the first time, they are able to clearly establish a correlation between marketing initiatives and rising transaction numbers, a correlation they haven’t been able to crystalise until Braze.
For those considering a similar move, Nick has some advice:
"Early on, work on creating a centralised customer segmentation model and get organisational buy-in. Having a champion for this within the company is not just valuable, it's essential for the success of any messaging program."
Sportsbet's journey of complex problem-solving and MarTech transformation offers valuable insights for organisations facing similar challenges. Reach out to our expert team today if your organisation is ready to embark on its own transformative journey.