Ahead of his appearance at the iGB Affiliate Lisbon conference, Martin Calvert provided some tips on producing niche, fresh and engaging content that cuts through in 2019
Content marketing in gaming is the glue that holds most player acquisition strategies together. Without differentiated content, there’s no SEO, no link-building, no way for affiliates to secure traffic, or for operators to provide a brand and user experience that can support real growth.
One of the important questions the panel in Lisbon will be tackling is: just how important is it to give audiences content they can’t find elsewhere? In an industry where sportsbooks provide very similar odds for the same sporting contests, and casino/slots operators host the same games, on sometimes indistinguishable platforms, content is an essential part of building a brand that attracts totally new players. It also provides a reason for players to come back in the future.
DIFFERENTIATED, UNIQUE CONTENT TAKES MANY FORMS
For racing sites, the quality of tips and entertainment value of news may be what entices punters in, and brings them closer to placing a bet. For some operators, there’s been a big move into data streams and qualitative content such as video, audio streams and podcasts. We’ve actually built our own studios to take advantage of this trend.
Slots and casino sites, meanwhile, may find it a bit harder to provide ‘news’-type content, but there will always be options to write the type of guides, game descriptions and reviews that punters appreciate before taking the decision to wager.
In each of these cases, ripping off competitors is a strategy that will only have short-term success, if at all. So, what should your starting point be?
Content marketing can either be one of the most cost-effective marketing initiatives you embark upon, or a way to waste of time and money. When it comes to hyper-competitive markets, one of the best approaches is to specialise in very specific sports, events in the calendar, games or even game developers.
By taking a realistic view of what you can be the number-one answer for in Google search, and then pursue cost effectively in advertising, you’re opening up the opportunity to take your marketing budgets further.
Affiliates always must be mindful of costs and profitability – when you’re competing with major operators and super-affiliates for the same traffic, content marketing can level the playing field.
It’s important to ask yourself “what can my brand offer players that few others can, and what kind of content can I create that will fill a gap in the market, win traffic and engage players?”
This also shapes how much work you do in-house, versus outsourced agencies. If you’re struggling for time but have the cash, it’s better to find trusted partners who can deliver content marketing that achieves financial outcomes than it is to get tied in knots internally.
Alternatively, if you’re bootstrapping your brand, it’s important to identify where you can specialise and, with expertise and passion, produce content that reflects your personality and the interests of players.
To scale, it makes sense to find effective partners when budgets will allow. Content marketing is an intrinsically time-consuming process, and experts in conversation-rate optimisation, SEO and PR will be able to take it further than an in-house team – if they have the credibility, igaming expertise, connections and skills.
ATTRACTING PREMIUM PLAYERS
Of course, not every player is created equal and the ideal content strategy will engage bettors with large wallets and VIPs who can deliver recurring revenue while pursuing their passions.
Applying what you know about existing traffic will help you to make decisions about how best to engage this type of player. Looking at top-performing pages in terms of traffic and revenue generation will give clues about the sort of content that premium players are looking for.
In this there are no one-size-fits-all answers – it’s important to look at your own data and then develop a content strategy utilising the written word as well as data streams, video and audio, to ensure these ideal visitors don’t slip away. To help measure the success of onsite content, applying conversion rate optimisation methodologies such as heat maps, user research panels and more will help to turn visitors into players.
Without unique, high-quality content it’s clear that betting brands don’t truly have a brand to speak of. Beyond brand personality, content can be the material needed to drive SEO rankings, direct PPC traffic to opportunitypages and, more generally, provide a user experience worth coming back for. It can be easy to underestimate the time, creativity and focus needed to continually create content that the best bettors will engage with, so balancing in-house resource with the right type of agency partners is key.
Standing out in competitive markets means using the data at your disposal to understand what your betting brand is and what it is not – and where you can carve out visibility and traffic based on what you’re best at.
Not all content is of equal value, and thoughtlessly created ‘landfill content’ should of course be totally avoided. The good news is that as digital businesses, affiliates do have data about the type of content that influences FTDs, and there’s an entire landscape of competitors whose content strategies you can analyse, assess and improve upon if you use a few tools such as SEMrush, Ahrefs and the like.