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By Casino & Gaming International, Jun 3 2016 06:02PM

By Nicky Senyard, CEO & Founder, Income Access Group


There is a continual stream of new companies entering the iGaming industry. In the UK alone, 719 remote gambling activity licenses were held by 427 operators, according to the UK Gambling Commission’s latest report. Given the increasing saturation of the market, brands are faced with the challenge of finding new and economic ways to acquire and retain players.


In a buyer’s market such as this one, differentiating your brand from the competitors is vital for success, yet this is not as easy as it once was. In today’s era of the hyper-saturation of information, the average adult is exposed to 362 ads per day, according to the Media Dynamics study on ad exposure. Consequently, iGaming brands face the risk that their traditional marketing strategies no longer have the same impact as they once did. For example, a banner ad featuring a player bonus, which has become commonplace in the industry, may not successfully set your brand apart from competitors. Regulatory discussions will also continue to play an influential role. Recent proposals by the UK government to tax free or discounted online bets are a prime example why brands in the market will need to start finding profitable marketing alternatives.


Brands in the iGaming market are not only competing against each other to engage a potential player; they also face competition with other entertainment products, including alternative games, movies, restaurants, and other nonessential areas of interest. The majority of successful companies in entertainment industries have moved away from a strategy focused on selling and have transitioned to a story-telling approach.


Under Armour and Always are examples of companies that have successfully implemented this approach. Under Armour’s most recent ad campaign, “Rule Yourself”, depicts the sacrifice u required to become a top level athlete. Their slogan, “it’s what you do in the dark, that puts you in the light” communicates a gripping story. Campaigns like these have propelled Under Armour to become a threat to competing sports apparel brands, namely Nike and Adidas. Under Armour in bridging the gap in the market and is expected to reach $20 billion in revenue by 2025, according to Morgan Stanley analysts.


Similarly, Always’ #LikeAGirl campaign, a series of videos empowering young girls to be unstoppable and break gender norms, has generated more than 117 million views on YouTube. “These brands have big ambitions and they make a positive and emotional connection with their consumers,” says Judy John, CEO/CCO of Leo Burnett, the agency that partnered with Always for this campaign. “That’s why purpose-driven brands are succeeding”.


The two campaigns depict the measurable impact that word-of-mouth marketing can have on a company’s growth. These retail brands successfully created loyalty and ultimately advocacy through their captivating stories. According to Nielsen’s Global Survey of Trust in Advertising, 84% of consumers believe word-of-mouth is the most trustworthy source of information. Similarly, research by Ogilvy, Google and TNS revealed that word-of-mouth is a point of influence for 74% of consumers when making a purchase decision. It is therefore crucial for iGaming brands to create a persuasive brand story that engages their customers, in order to cost-effectively grow their market share.


Acquiring Players: Your Brand Story Is Your Biggest Asset

Consumers choose brands that engage them based on their passions and interests 42% more often than brands that do not, showed a study from Think with Google. This is a significant factor to consider when creating the player acquisition strategy for your brand. What makes your business unique? What value does your company offer?


It is also important to remember that players are generally exposed to a brand numerous times before forming an opinion. Customers will further their understanding of the brand by completing their own research before arriving at a final verdict. This provides many opportunities to engage players with your story and convince them that you offer a product that meets their needs and values. To support this customer engagement, consistent and targeted messaging and imagery across a variety of marketing channels can increase the likelihood that customers will become invested in your brand.


A main source of word-of-mouth marketing for your brand is your affiliate channel. Affiliates act as third-party brand ambassadors. Many have positioned themselves as experts in their field and achieve credibility by relaying objective information about various brands’ games, bonuses and customer servicing.


Your existing customers are an integral component in organic reach of your brand. According to Think with Google, consumers who seek information linked to their values and passions are 1.6x more likely to rate a product or service online at least once a week (versus consumers driven by entertainment or connection). Affiliates and customers that feel a connection with your brand are therefore more likely to endorse your product and increase your brand’s exposure to their audience.


Organic search does not fall far behind word-of-mouth recommendations, with 47% of consumers using search engines to discover new products, according to Marketing Sharpa’s Consumer Purchase Preference Survey. To further solidify your brand story, consider incorporating this approach into your web content strategy. Carefully choosing your keywords, both for organic and paid campaigns, will not only result in cost efficiencies, but it also ensures you are attracting players that are more likely to stay. These players are the best candidates to become brand loyal and are an important asset for your word-of-mouth marketing campaign.


In order to complement your affiliate and search engine strategies and acquire additional players, select media buying channels that are a strong fit with your story. If you are running a programmatic digital media buying campaign, for example, this is an opportune moment for you to reach a market that is in line with your values. Does your brand personality have a funny side? Consider targeting a market that is not only interested gambling, but also has a passion for humour.


For instance, Paddy Power has positioned itself as a leader in the iGaming industry through a humorous and now strongly identifiable brand persona. The brand’s numerous marketing channels, including both online and offline mediums, depict their mischievous personality. Affiliate banners featuring athletes with caricature-like facial features, billboards featuring wheelchairs branded with Liverpool FC and their often-debated television advertisements are just some examples of Paddy Power’s creative portfolio. The brand’s ability to create memorable content that makes light of sporting news has effectively drawn in a considerable amount of fans, including 575 thousand followers on Twitter and over 14 million views on YouTube.


Retaining Players: Make Your Players Your Brand Story

A key outcome with clear brand stories is that users become strong brand advocates. According to the Word of Mouth u Marketing Association, 13% of sales are directly driven by recommendations from friends, family and colleagues. Consequently, it is necessary to have a variety of content available to entice players to join your story and encourage the flow of positive information.


One of the largest channels for sharing information is social media. Luckily, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are some of the easiest vehicles to portray your brand’s values and insights. Sharing useful and interesting news, photos and third-party content will yield significant results, as 38% of consumers follow the brands on social media that produce useful content and 31% of consumers follow these brands because they produce entertaining content, according to Marketing Sherpa. The more fans you obtain on social media, the larger your army of advocates becomes.


To encourage word-of-mouth, collaborate with your players. By starting conversations with customers and sharing their content, you are creating brand advocates by organically integrating them into your brand story. Most importantly, opening a dialogue when a player reviews your brand will not only allow you to collect valuable feedback for future product developments, it also represents an opportunity to increase brand loyalty. By showing customers that you care about their values and needs, you are fostering an environment where your customers’ collective opinions matter, and this voice can be used to shape a new chapter of your brand story.


One final way to stay relevant with your customers is to be as present as possible and mobile is a prominent avenue to do so. Ensure players are experiencing a uniform story across platforms and engineer push notifications that encourage players to rate your app in the App Store. Having a generous amount of reviews on the App Store has the added benefit of increasing your ranking on SERPs. According to MOZ’s Local Search Ranking Factors Survey, online reviews factor for 10% of the criteria search engines use to determine how results are ranked.


As David J. Greer, author of the entrepreneurial growth novel Wind in Your Sails, stated, “A customer talking about their experience with you is worth ten times that which you write or say about yourself”. Make the most of brand endorsers by creating a brand story that showcases your company values and resonates with your users. Your community of advocates are an inexpensive asset to remain competitive and continue to grow within a saturated market, one story at a time.


NICKY SENYARD

Nicky Senyard founded Income Access in 2002 and as CEO has guided the company’s evolution into a turnkey provider of tracking technology and digital marketing services to European and global iGaming operators. Income Access supports clients with their cross-channel acquisition and retention strategies through their affiliate management, digital media buying, SEM and content marketing services.


Taken from Casino & Gaming International - Issue 26 (2016)




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