Locker Room Labs

Locker Room Labs Sports Technology Spotlight: James McLoughlin

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Welcome to the fourth edition of the Locker Room Labs Sports Technology Spotlight. In this series, we sit down with industry partners and experts to discuss the evolving world of sports tech including the incredible innovations being developed in the space. The next professional featured in this series is SEO and SEM expert, James McLoughlin of Stirling Mac. We sat down with James to discuss his perspective on topics that are trending in the sports tech and sports marketing industry.

You’ve been in the industry for 15+ years. Can you share any personal experiences that highlight the dynamic nature of the sports technology and betting landscape?

I started in Australia in 2008 when bookmaking went online. It was a transformational period, when most bets were made over the phone instead of in person at horse racing tracks, and the business, Sportingbet exploded. If the business won $1M in trading profit on a Saturday, the whole team would go out celebrating all night on the business. You’d work the next day in a compromised condition. After a short period, this quarterly celebration became weekly and it was eye-opening just how much money was in the industry. Whilst the professionalism increased over time, so did the size of the global TAM. And the distribution is normally enjoyed exclusively by an oligopoly of the biggest companies. The customer experience has evolved at the same time, with mobile and desktop transactions taking over from archaic phone calls. 

The other big element continues to be the legislative landscape, which controls the environment, and consumer preferences. It’s why fantasy leaders can make fortunes in non-legalized sports betting states, and the limited barriers to entry allow fantasy startups to enter. Meanwhile, North American sports betting has higher barriers to entry than almost any tech market on the planet. How easy it is to enter, operate, and pay taxes determines the products that consumers geographically experience. And that’s just as prevalent today as ever.

You are great at dissecting the app store approach of many companies. In your opinion, what are the key success factors for sportsbook apps to stand out in a saturated market?

Attention to detail, strong creativity, and ads. There are a dozen app store fields to submit and it’s important to complete them with intention. Do keyword research and use every character. Then you need scroll-stopping screenshots. Color, big fonts, and clear USPs. Once the organic listing stands out, turn on Apple Ads. It’s one of the most efficient acquisition channels in betting; it scales and Apple rewards paid activity with a prioritized organic listing.

How do you think the rise of mobile technology has influenced the development and user engagement strategies for sports betting and fantasy apps?

It’s mobile-first and has been for a long time. And it’s no coincidence that the market leaders in fantasy and sports betting have the best user experience and user engagement strategies. In Australia, Flutter used products to dominate the market. They had personality in their campaigns and advertised aggressively, but product evolution was the strongest growth lever. FanDuel used evolved technology, cherry-picked the most talented staff from their global product teams, and led the market in the US. DraftKings had to make similar investments to compete, and are doing so. This is why they rank first and second on any UX focus group, and it’s not close.

Similarly, PrizePicks and Underdog Fantasy exploded during the TikTok era of content and influencers. And one of the reasons for their unparalleled success is the player-prop UX. It perfectly resonates with consumer preferences (players>teams), it’s simple and it’s quick. I can consume a TikTok video from Adam Breneman promoting PrizePicks, open the app, and have a live ticket within 1 minute, using only one hand. The consumer convenience is incredible. 

You’re tapped into the world of sports business. Can you share your perspective on the current trends and innovations in sports technology that you find most exciting?

The same trends have been circulating for years. Gamification, personalization, more features, social integration, and micro markets for betting are the keys moving forward. I think all of those trends can work but success lies in UX execution. Users want an intuitive and fast experience. And they want a clean design. My favorite trend is the visualization of data. I’ve appreciated FiveThirtyEight and Smarkets as pioneers in prediction visuals but now you see great examples from, Outlier, and many others.

You’re very active on social media. Do you have any recommendations and why it’s important for professionals looking to build their personal brand on social media?

LinkedIn is opportunity arbitrage. As a B2B marketing agency, half my clients come from LinkedIn; maybe more. And if I was an employee, I would recommend the same strategy. Consistent content. Post about your domain knowledge, your industry and professional experiences. Do it often and have faith in serendipitous opportunities. When I post on LinkedIn and send DMs, opportunities happen. 

Stirling Mac Client: Dabble - Real Money Pick 'Em

You’ve seen what it takes to win in this industry. Can you share any examples of successful user engagement campaigns implemented for sports technology products?

Dabble, a client I work with, is a great example. They pioneered social betting in their sportsbook in Australia. That created a price-insensitive community that can copy each other’s action and tout their expertise. It was a unique experience that couldn’t be found anywhere else and it creates sticky users. Most of the market in Australia has tried to replicate that feature, but Dabble still does it better and is rewarded for it. That differentiation has helped them launch with incredible momentum in the US as a fantasy operator. Product differentiation, when it resonates, is the ultimate user engagement and marketing tool.

What are the key considerations when designing and implementing app store campaigns for fantasy and sportsbook apps to enhance user retention?

Your app campaigns need to be targeted and they need to reflect your strengths. If you’re a fantasy app with the best hockey product in the market, then go hard after that user audience on multiple channels. Use hockey creative, hockey keywords, and copy that resonates with that audience at that moment. Is a particular player on a scoring spree, or a team running hot? Leverage those narratives in your advertising and then deliver an enhanced experience to that user. The same strategy won’t work if you have the same hockey offering as everyone else and your campaign imagery features NFL and NBA players. It starts with the product. Have a USP, have a point of difference, and then communicate that aggressively with consistent niche campaigns.

About Stirling Mac

The company Stirling Mac is the acquisition assassin for online sports betting and finance technology you’ve been looking for. They specialize in App Store growth and Search Engine Optimization. With 15+ years of mastering sportsbook acquisition, If they don’t increase your app downloads by 25%, you owe them nothing. To learn more about how Stirling Mac can optimize your listing and turn on an ROI-positive acquisition machine, contact them here.

About Locker Room Labs

Locker Room Labs is a US-based and software engineer-owned development team specializing in sports, betting, fantasy, and iGaming. From UX Design and MVP Development to Custom App Development and Staff Augmentation, Locker Room Labs is tailored to bring sports software to life. A testament to their innovation is “The Playbook,” a proprietary sports platform-as-a-service that accelerates development time to market and curtails custom software build costs for clients. To reach Locker Room Labs, you can visit our website here.

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