Customer analytics improve the odds at Seminole Gaming

We had the good fortune to have Ralph Thomas, Ph.D., VP of Strategic Analytics and Database Marketing from Seminole Gaming, participate in our integrated marketing management panel at the 2012 SAS Global Forum Executive Conference along with his colleagues from Office Depot and Best Buy. Each panelist presented a short case study, followed by a robust discussion moderated by Lori Bieda from SAS.

Ralph Thomas of Seminole Gaming

To provide context, Ralph detailed how the organization runs 7 casinos in Florida that include 11,000 slots, over 300 table games and 2 Hard Rock-branded properties. I found it fascinating that much of their organization's marketing is primarily driven by traditional direct mail.  As you might expect, there is a fairly high cost to direct mail, but when they tried to migrate customers to email from direct mail, their response rates plummeted. And they found that the profitability of their responses fell as well.

As good marketers do everywhere, they meet their customer on their preferred channel and make the most of it by focusing of offers that get the best response rates.  In their case, they send money in the form of "free play," as opposed to "percent" off coupons. Perhaps more importantly, they have a complex segmentation strategy focused on over 10,000 segments, to which they typically extend over 30,000 offers to those segments. (!) Like many places nowadays, the stakes are high at Seminole Gaming for marketing to perform, so that's where having customer analytics enables them to identify such a large number of segments and also to manage the effectiveness of tens of thousands of offers.

Ralph's description of how they deployed their customer analytics solution illustrates a growing trend where the marketing department establishes internal relevance by focusing on data and using it to drive strategy. Ralph detailed how they first focused on establishing credibility with their operating units, and once they gained the trust of those key stakeholders, they were able to make the case for the investment in customer analytics. It would certainly be hard to argue with an approach that shows how marketing uses data to:

  • Identify which segments are profitable,
  • Decide whether or not to send mail to certain customers,
  • Dictate the nature of the engagement with the customer,
  • Track, measure and report customer visitation trends, and then
  • Further refine meaningful segments in an ongoing loop of improvement.

Delivering integrated marketing campaigns that stand out from the pack while measurably driving business results has never been more challenging.  Hearing how Ralph and his team at Seminole Gaming implemented customer-driven, cross-channel campaign management initiatives to grow the business was a great example of the power of customer analytics to improve marketing.

Ralph closed with a forward-looking acknowledgement that Seminole Gaming is the business of selling entertainment, so they do compete with online gaming and other entertainment options. As a result, locational analytics will play a role in the future of their business. Considering the potential for location based-interactions to change the customer experience, I expect the story of how Seminole Gaming harnesses customer analytics will only get more fascinating. Stay tuned for updates, which I will gladly share as they become available. In the meantime, if you would like a deep-dive into the math behind the gaming industry look no further than this book that Ralph co-authored and published through Casino Enterprise Management.

As always, thank you for following and please share your thoughts with a comment, or share this post with others.


About Author

John Balla

Principal Marketing Strategist

Hi, I'm John Balla - a Digital Marketing Principal here at SAS focused on Content Strategy. I co-founded the SAS Customer Intelligence blog and served as Editor for five years. I like to find and share content and experiences that open doors, answer questions and maybe even challenge assumptions so better questions can be asked. Outside of work I stay busy with my wife and I keeping up with my 2 awesome college-age kids, volunteering for the Boy Scouts, keeping my garden green, striving for green living, expressing myself with puns, and making my own café con leche every morning. I’ve lived and worked on 3 contents and can communicate fluently in Spanish, Portuguese, Hungarian and passable English. Prior to SAS, my experience in marketing ranges from Fortune 100 companies to co-founding two start ups. I studied economics at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and got an MBA from Georgetown. Follow me on Twitter. Connect with me on LinkedIn.


  1. Pingback: Blending the art and science of marketing at Best Buy - Customer Analytics

  2. It shows your customer how they will save money, get skinny, or live longer with your product. Especially after the SEO (search engine optimisation) world was rocked with the latest Google updates.

    You see when your prospect receives your mail, if they see a stamp on it, they will think that it's something personal.

    • John Balla

      Great point! And thanks for your comment. Sometimes traditional mail can work very effectively to reach your customers, but as always your message needs to be relevant for them or your mail piece will end up getting directly recycled.

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