• SEO

The seven deadly sins of content marketing

By iGBA Editorial Team

When it comes to marketing there are sins that every affiliate is guilty of committing. Martin Calvert takes a deeper dive into these blunders and what igaming affiliates can do to atone for them.

Affiliates are under pressure to maximise the value of traffic and keep up the momentum with FTDs. With a constant need to maintain and grow rankings, it’s easy to see how some tempting, but less productive, habits can creep into the workflow.

In this article, I’ll be paraphrasing the ICS-digital model of content creation through the prism of the seven deadly sins. Bear with me through this mildly obnoxious approach as we explore these common pitfalls and provide tips on how to produce high-quality content that engages audiences and drives more sustainable success in the era of E-E-AT, AI and other ‘disruptive’ forces.

1. Sloth: ignoring customer insights 

The sin of the sloth in content marketing manifests itself in igaming when site owners get into a cycle of copying each other rather than responding to how target audiences search and identifying demographic goals.

This is particularly important as new markets open up and evolve quickly. Neglecting audience research leads to generic and tired content that fails to resonate. To drive up deposits, content must speak the language of contemporary audiences and be of sufficient depth to be useful.

You can see here how E-E-A-T principles can factor into ensuring that content is not just correct but correctly mapped to core audiences. This is also something that at present AI content is ill-suited for – particularly for affiliates who want to focus on a very specific niche rather than be all things to all people with aggregated content that plays to averages.

To avoid this sin, conduct thorough research to gain insights into your audience's preferences, talk directly with operators wherever possible about customer types and conversion paths and try to develop a single customer journey that accounts for pain points, and interests.

On the technical level, leverage data analytics, conduct on-page surveys, and engage in social listening if you have the resources to do so.

2. Greed: over promoting 

Content marketers in the affiliate world, not just in igaming, can be tempted by the sin of greed when they prioritise plastering promotional messages across every page rather than using them as a resource to audiences.

Of course, money talks and if you have a site that specialises in rapid-fire ‘top ten’ content then that may be something to mine so long as the revenue is there. Yet do make a sober assessment of opportunity cost; is current success masking the greater potential for future success?

We know that Google states that it doesn’t seek to reward thin content and the helpful content update of 2022 is still shaping the SERPs.

In addition to the SEO considerations, of course, we must bear in mind the scope of sites to convert and bring back repeat visits. At a glance, monumental lists of offers and casino reviews where every brand is a five-star icon are intrinsically unconvincing.

Consider the gains to be made by focusing on delivering valuable and informative content that educates, entertains, resolves queries and/or entertains – the lack of personality in the affiliate landscape can be striking but examples of success and character are not hard to find either. Strike a balance between promotional and non-promotional content, ensuring that your audience benefits and this will build trust with both search engines and bettors.

3. Gluttony: content quantity over quality

In the pursuit of content volume, marketers often fall prey to the sin of gluttony. Rapidly churning out low-quality articles, blog posts, or videos not only dilutes your brand's credibility but also fails to engage readers.

More than this, such content at such scale can be exhausting, for little reward. It’s worth considering what kind of workflow you and your partners can deliver. At ICS we produce a million words of content per month but this has been a 20-year evolution – being realistic about goals is key for maintaining quality in the affiliate landscape.

To paraphrase Edward Deming, it’s important to work hard but it’s even more important to know what to do and then work hard. So, if quantity isn’t something that’s presently possible, consider carefully where you can succeed and be superior to others in the SERPs.

Winnable battles rather than running to exhaustion are key. That said, it’s important not to artificially limit growth as a rigorous approach to organisation and tech can make quality and scale possible.

The starting point for this is a robust content calendar that allows for thoughtful creation, ensuring each piece is well-crafted, relevant, and valuable to your target audience across the sporting season, game release calendar or any other set of milestones.

4. Wrath: competing with operators

Relationships with operators can be fraught with trust and communication issues common factors. One aspect of SEO strategy that operator partners particularly dislike – and which absolutely will jettison trust – is a focus on brand terms.

The temptation is clear, qualified traffic and quick cash, but it’s not the basis of a long-term relationship defined by great communication.

The best affiliates can work closely with operators to determine a fair divide of content topics to pursue. Operators depend on affiliates to earn the traffic that they can’t obtain so, despite the push and pull between the two, this dedication can be rewarded with sharing of data, best-converting offers and so on.

That said, wrath – and more aggressive approaches to content that are focused on parting operators from cash quickly will continue to be present in the industry. Some people just don’t want to play nice.

5. Envy: copying competitors endlessly

Envy drives content marketers to commit the sin of imitation – understanding and being informed by the strategies and content of competitors is essential to be competitive but some brands cross the line with scraped content, data and even design rip-offs.

The ‘mature’ advice is to focus on differentiating yourself from competitors by identifying your brand's unique selling points but that can be easier said than done in the hyper-competitive world of affiliate marketing when CPA deals are dropping in value and some markets mature to the point of saturation.

A middle point is to understand competitor strategies and the types of content that are being surfaced in the SERPs, and for which queries.

From there the time-honoured ‘skyscraper method’ is legitimate. Developing your own distinctive tone, style, and approach to content creation but still ultimately focusing on answering user queries better than the current best. Do it your own way, though – and apply expertise, experience, authority and trust (E-E-A-T) factors to your content for maximum contemporary impact.

6. Lust: overemphasis on visual appeal

The sin of lust in content crops up when brands disregard what works in favour of a bloated design that adds polish at the expense of usability.

This is most evident when affiliates, with the noble goal of differentiating, take a wrong turn and end up focusing less on substance and more on style.

Eye-catching images, videos, infographics, and other visual elements can of course enhance the overall appeal of your content – but they can also serve as a noisy distraction if you’re not careful. While operators often have burdensome layers of bureaucracy, there’s something to be said for checks and balances and discipline in design sign-off.

Remember, the substance of your content is key and design should service that – and that goes for ambitious content-based digital PR campaigns too – journalists care about (and link to) the substance.

7. Pride: ignoring analytics and feedback

The sin of pride leads some affiliates to disregard data and bet on themselves – unsurprising given the industry.

However, while it’s important to chart your own path it’s important to know which data you’re putting to one side and why.

More than this, measurement helps plan more confident next steps, especially with content. Analysing the propensity of your site to rank higher and which keyword clusters are helpful when you have limited resources; lean into what you do best and which has the greatest impact.

Going on gut judgements or prioritising content schedules based on competitor activity is your prerogative but failing to measure the performance of your content and adapt accordingly can hinder growth. Seeking quick wins can lead to you missing out on quick wins, ironically.

Regularly analyse metrics such as page views, bounce rates, and engagement to gain insights into what resonates with your audience – and in 2023 that means getting to grips with GA4.

GA4 isn’t going away so ensure you’re measuring what you need to measure in the post-universal analytics world.

Wrapping up

Affiliate contenders in the gambling sector can benefit from looking inward and recognising potential bad habits – or deadly sins.

By focusing on understanding your audience, providing value, emphasising quality, optimising for search, differentiating meaningfully from competitors and leveraging analytics and feedback, you can produce high-quality content that works for you every day to drive up rankings, traffic and FTDs.

Martin Calvert

is marketing director for ICS-digital and ICS-translate. The sister agencies work globally across multilingual SEO, content, digital PR and translation with a core focus on highly regulated industries.

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