Platform development, user acquisition & long-term retention for Cover the Spread

About Newlette & Cover the Spread

In late 2017, the Supreme Court ruled that sports betting is legal in the United States. Our client, Newlette, is a global online gambling powerhouse with strong holdings in Europe and South America. Newlette approached our team with a vision of capturing as much market share as quickly as possible in the United States.

How we helped Newlette build Cover the Spread

Since online sports betting is not legal in the US yet (legislation expected to go through by mid 2019), Newlette needed a solution to capture player information while also keeping them engaged online until legislation allows real money sports betting. We proposed Cover the Spread - a free sports prediction game that lets players choose the winners of their favorite games. And so, the largest online sports betting community in the US was born.

The results

12,798 daily active players in 6 weeks, 5,241 Facebook Likes, 2.9M video views. Our growth engine continues to deliver over 1,700 players per week to Cover the Spread.

Check out Cover the Spread for yourself →

Game conceptualization and user journey optimization

Our team worked closely with Newlette to understand the betting psychographic, then we conceptualized the entire gaming structure of Cover the Spread. Our team of engineers worked with Newlette’s team in South Africa to build and test the entire platform as well.

Game conceptualization & design

We worked closely with the team at Newlette to determine how we could create a game that triggered the betting psychographic and that would keep players engaged for over a year. The result was a Fantasy Football-like game that allowed players to choose the winner of daily NHL, NBA & NFL games. If a player correctly chose 10 consecutive games, he or she would win $1000 cash.

Streamlining the user journey using sunk cost theory

When building the user journey, we enhanced the entire sign up process with one of our UX for growth principles called the Sunk Cost Theory - we postulated that allowing a user to make a prediction before signing up would increase the sign up conversion rate. It did, by over 400%. We had a 29.8% conversion rate on the landing page in comparison to a 7% conversion rate where players could predict the winner of a game after signing up.


Player acquisition

We designed and executed a massive acquisition campaign with a six figure budget. Through constant ad optimization and viral growth, we deliver over 1,700 new players to Cover the Spread per week. Our cost per player hovers between $1.12 to $1.37.

Player acquisition through unique funnel combinations

We acquired players through over 15 funnels. Some of these included native lead generation on social media, chat bot acquisitions, and traffic ads via Facebook, Instagram, Reddit, Google, Quora & the PornHub ad network.

Player acquisition & activation through a Messenger chat bot

We programmed the bot to message anyone who commented on our posts and ads - this unique funnel accounted for 15% of our total sign ups. This not only acted as a unique acquisition funnel, but it also allowed us to broadcast information to players similar to email marketing.

Player acquisition through gamification & viral growth kicker (VGK) optimization

We fundamentally believe that users will refer other users given an environment of seamless shareability structured by proper incentives. At every step on the user journey, we incentivized the player to refer friends; the player who referred the most amount of people won Super Bowl tickets.

Reduced acquisition costs through rapid-fire multivariate testing

After the platform was built and optimized, we tested and analyzed 50 unique ad types that all experimented with different acquisition funnels. We closed the funnels that didn’t deliver substantial results and expanded the budget on the ad sets that yielded low CPAs. The result was less than $1 per paid sign up, which was reduced by the viral growth kicker & gamification.

Record-low CPAs and record-high relevance scores

After testing the best ads, we iterated, optimized and scaled quickly. All of our ad sets had Relevance Scores of 9 or above, which contributed to record-low CPAs of $0.09 per landing page view and less than $1.98 per lead collection. All of these acquisition methods created a weighted average paid CAC of $1.12 before being slashed by gamification.


Player retention

Retention is not a destination — it is an ongoing byproduct of proactive, well-considered design.

Creating habit by triggering intermittent variable rewards

We designed an email retention system that incorporated a system of intermittent variable rewards. After segmenting users, we set a schedule of rewards that would randomly select players in each cohort and email them a special reward of 2 free tickets to the game of their choice if they referred the most friends to the platform. After a player referred each friend, they were emailed a thank you email that showed their spot on the scoreboard. Each player who referred friends would then randomly get extra referral points 3 days after their last referral.

Creating retention through chat bot broadcasting

Although our email open rates averaged a little over 47%, we also utilized our Messenger bot complementarily to reach another 15,000 players.

$1.12 Player Acquisition Cost

We delivered a $1.12 player acquisition cost. Newlette’s affiliates pay over $1,000 per player. 

1,700+ New Players Per Week

With our on-going contract, we bring over 1,700 new players per week to Cover the Spread.


$0.11 Per Landing Page View

With our ad testing framework, we slashed the cost per landing page view (10 second dwell time) to $0.11.

47% Email Open Rate

For us, high volume doesn’t mean low quality. We maintained an email open rate of 47% for all players.