Content marketing is nothing new but social media has given it a heavy dose of steroids in recent years. A 2015 survey suggested that 25% of all marketing budgets are spent on content marketing, but there is little evidence that this spend is showing a positive return on investment. In 1895, John Deere, the farm machinery manufacturer, launched the magazine The Furrow, providing information to farmers on how to become more profitable. The magazine, considered the first example of content marketing, is still in circulation. John didn’t have search engine optimisation, social sharing or conversion rates in mind but he clearly thought there was a benefit in creating content that helped his target audience. Marketers seem to have convinced themselves that content marketing is free; simply write a click-bait headline, create a video, employ a brand ambassador, find a social media intern and people will rush to engage, share and buy your product. Recent updates to Google and Facebook’s algorithm means that the content marketing is harder than ever. Bookmakers and affiliates have followed the content path with mixed results. It is not an easy space, as there is no shortage of great sports content out there from editorial, podcasts, stats and video, but much of it is not resulting in a direct, trackable new account or bet. So how do bookmakers and affiliates compete, how can they deliver cost-effective content that prompts a bet?
For a mixture of technical and compliance reasons, you can’t get clickable live odds into Facebook, Twitter or WhatsApp, but there are some in the affiliate industry who are doing very well on social, finding ways to draw in an audience and bringing them off-site to have a real bet. Many of these affiliates are doing a much better job than the bookmakers who, despite large number of followers and internal or agency resource available to it, find it hard to show a financial return on social. Like so many other advertisers, it feels like they are doing it only because everyone else is. In our case, we find that tips can work as a casual prompt to have a bet on the next race. Over the last two years we have been working with Sporting Life, At The Races, The Sun and several other clients on tips, finding ways to make this content work harder for the related bookmaker. We run free-to-play tipping games and these create a feed of social data, approximately 30,000 fan tips and 2,000 fan comments shared per day and our system draws out the best content from the best tipsters. We have found the following factors have a positive effect on conversion rate from content to bet:
1. Tips from other sports fans
This can remove the understandable suspicion that punters feel when shown a tip from a bookmaker. Ideally you can show a successful track record for the fan, based on their profit over a number of days or weeks.
2. Don’t forget about the bet
Every piece of sports betting content should have a live odd and, if possible, an accumulator return showing next to it. If possible, have an integrated bet slip on your site or, at least, linking to the relevant market page with a pre-populated bet slip, so the user can easily place their bet. Too often, content is created without a simple bet prompt on it.
Bookmakers and affiliates can learn a lot from Amazon, their ability to personalise the shopping experience and increase the spend per visit with recommendations based on other customers with similar taste or interests. Fan tips and comments can do this by showing what others fancy alongside your bet slip.
4. Context matters
There needs to be a balance between a tip and a full-length article. In our experience, most casual punters want something quick and easy, so ideally a tip or suggested accumulator with a short comment that gives some insight into the rationale for that suggested bet. These comments can help the very casual racing punter, who don’t understand the language of horse racing form.
5. Smart social sharing
Only a tiny minority of people will share content but there are a few things you can do to help on this. Displaying the tips within the preview image that shows on Twitter and Facebook and auto-filling any accumulator return in the text significantly improves the response on the post. It is early days on WhatsApp sharing, but the group structure of their platform means that there should be a good chance of sports betting sharing within it.