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Andrew Banks, Managing Director of Squeeze Digital Marketing, talks digital strategy for e-gaming propositions.
Digital marketing strategy isn’t as high level is it sounds. Put simply, it’s defining a plan for attracting, engaging, converting and retaining customers through digital channels.
This process is cyclical and on-going and should always be refined as your business progresses - but at the heart of this is a core consisting of your product and brand around which this process revolves.
A highly competitive sector
E-gaming is competitive and has been for a long time. This shows no sign of changing, with the range of products increasing, more operators getting involved and larger operators having increasing marketing budgets. There are also a number of operators that haven’t entered the online arena - but it’s only a matter of time before they do.
Looking to other sectors it’s clear how competitive e-gaming is, with casino, bingo and poker each being more competitive than mortgages, credit cards or any other financial term. The only other market with more competition is the adult industry. With high competition often comes high traffic volumes and for operators with the right strategy this means a great opportunity.
Why getting strategy right is so important
Regardless of the industry, strong strategy drives co-ordinated tactics that drive a greater response. Digital marketing services are often bought in isolation, and although a co-ordinated approach may exist it’s often lacking a strategy and integration across channels. When multiple agencies and in-house teams are working on different digital channels, achieving co-ordination with the strategy can be difficult. With digital marketing no channels work in isolation and no tactics fit into one stage of the process. Social influences search, conversion rate optimisation influences almost everything, eCRM aids conversion and retention. Without a co-ordinated strategy considering how each tactic works together, synergy won’t be achieved.
Lack of product differentiation makes digital marketing strategy more important
One area where online gaming struggles is a lack of product differentiation. With so many operators running online casinos, bingo and poker on the same platform it’s no surprise that the vast majority of marketing campaigns are incentive led. There are obvious commercial benefits to taking games from an established provider but when your product has no differentiation from your competition, your marketing success is throttled from the outset. Developing a unique product gives a unique position and removes some of the dependency on bonus-driven marketing campaigns. The impact of running with a bought-in product isn’t just felt in recruitment and retention, but across every stage in the process.
With the proliferation of social media and the sharing culture now online, product is key. There’s an assumption that by placing ‘share’ and ‘tweet’ buttons on a site content will be shared by everyone. But human behaviour dictates that we only share things that benefit us, whether that’s by directly rewarding us for sharing or by making us look great to our peers by sharing something unique.
Bought-in products don’t offer anything unique and they don’t give compelling reasons to share, and that’s simply because they’re not special - they’re the same games as everywhere else with the same experience. The only difference will probably be the sign up bonus and creative. When product is so integral to the marketing mix, having your product provided by a third party that also supplies your competition cannot be a good thing.
The importance of brand on direct digital marketing
With digital marketing often being direct response and campaigns being planned based around impressions, click through rates, conversions and customer lifetime values, the importance of brand recognition is often overlooked. Brand recognition is becoming more important in the digital space as more operators compete for customers. When digital marketing first became important it was a numbers game but it’s now common for people ranking lower on Google to get more traffic than those ranking first if their brand is more recognisable. Although this sounds obvious this does mean that unless you’re a large recognised operator you may find it difficult to make digital marketing profitable until you’ve started to build your brand.
Look to affiliates when defining your strategy
Affiliates work on tighter margins than operators. As well as being a great marketing channel they should also inspire and inform your own marketing. Whilst affiliates can use tactics that may be frowned upon, there is the question of how an affiliate can run a successful business whilst only taking between 20% and 40% of the customer’s revenue. What strategy are they applying and what can operators learn from it? Some affiliates have a great value-added service some have a brand to leverage, whereas others are data owners using their data and playing a numbers game to turn a profit.
Affiliates need to stay one step ahead of the game so they are always looking ahead for the next big idea as opposed to looking at current marketing tactics and trying to apply them to their business. Compared to operators, affiliates have little to lose; they’re smaller companies operating under less legislation. But the biggest difference is their mind-set and the entrepreneurial approach they take.
Regardless of the industry, user experience is vital and nowhere more so when there is so little difference between operators products. Where it’s difficult to differentiate what you offer, you must differentiate in how you offer it. Your product may be casino, poker or bingo and your website a vehicle for delivering them, but your customers don’t see the difference. Everything from your landing pages, homepage, games, emails, live chat etc. is your product.
Customers do not differentiate between your products, sections of your website, or channels; they have one experience and if the slightest gap occurs the whole picture is undermined. Most customer experience issues creep in by not considering the customer or by building a journey around how the products work and technical constraints. When sites are built around constraints the journey will almost always be flawed and customers disappointed. Marketing flawed products with un-satisfied customers will always be an up-hill struggle.
Pulling it all together
There’s an obvious gap in the market for someone with a unique product range and an amazing customer experience that’s built around the user and not around software restrictions or business restrictions. Building a digital strategy around such a strong offer would be a great challenge, and this is where we feel most digital strategies in this sector need improving. They’re focussed around tactical activity to drive traffic and convert that traffic and missing out on the real opportunity that is to be had by building a great online experience that customers want to shout about.
Managing Director, Squeeze Digital Marketing
Andrew has ten years’ experience in digital marketing with the last five working in e-gaming. In that time he has launched online casino, poker and bingo sites for a range of clients including Genting Casinos and PCH Prizes. Squeeze are currently working on a sports book project for a confidential client and are open to new business opportunities with operators and affiliates