Thomas Jones, from gaming operator PlayUK, offers insight into how smaller casino brands maximise their marketing budgets to compete with the power players.
Marketing is one of the biggest expenses incurred by online casino operators, whether a powerhouse brand such as PlayOJO or LeoVegas, or a smaller brand such as PlayUK.
If you do not invest in marketing activity across a range of channels and mediums, you will simply fail to drive traffic to your casino.
Of course, the largest tier one operators spend millions of pounds a year on marketing and advertising – PlayOJO is thought to have a budget in excess of €35m per annum, for example.
But not all online casino operators have such a well-funded marketing war chest, and for small brands such as PlayUK we have to be super smart in our strategy and deployment.
In most cases, expensive television and radio advertising is simply out of the question which means we have to turn to more cost-effective platforms such as online and social media.
We also have to think about the markets we target, and specifically the audience in that market – we have to really know the players we are targeting and make sure they receive our message.
For smaller operators, affiliates are a key driver of new player traffic and we have to work with them more closely than larger operators.
We also have to think outside the box when it comes to reacting to opportunities and jumping on the bandwagon of big events and major news stories.
It’s a big challenge, but one that forces us to be innovative and creative, and to think strategically and execute exceptionally in order to drive the ROI we need.
Here are a few examples of how we do it:
Focus on a single market:
When we launched PlayUK, we had a very specific market in mind – the UK. This has allowed us to focus our marketing efforts and spend in one place.
Larger operators and those targeting multiple markets have to spread their budget across different regions – this means they either spend more or their budget is spread thinly.
By dialling in on a single region we are able to throw the whole weight of our advertising arsenal at reaching UK players.
Of course, the UK is a highly competitive market and some smaller brands prefer to target emerging or newly regulated regions where CPAs are much lower.
Know your audience:
In addition to focusing on a single or handful of markets, smaller operators must know exactly who they are looking to target in each.
In order to maximise ROI, operators need to ensure their message is reaching those most likely to convert into depositors and players.
Social media and in particular Facebook are ideal in this regard, allowing marketers to target consumers based on highly specific criteria.
But it also means operators must really know who their players are, and tailor messaging to ensure it taps into their psyche.
The further you cast the net in terms of target audience, the more you are going to have to spend to capture those players.
By staying focussed, smaller operators can engage the players they know are most likely to sign-up and wager with them.
Work closely with your affiliate partners:
Despite coming under increasing scrutiny in the UK, affiliates continue to drive significant volumes of new player traffic to online casino sites.
For smaller operators, they represent one of the most cost-effective marketing channels available to them.
But in order to extract the maximum value from affiliate partners, smaller operators have to work very closely with publishers and offer them added value.
This may be in the way of favourable payment terms, or it may be in the way of unique bonuses and promotions.
Think outside the box:
Smaller operators can also take advantage of other platforms such as social media to generate huge interest in their brands and often for little to no cost.
For example, some brands have used social media to playfully court controversy with humorous tweets that poke fun at big name celebrities.
This enables these brands to gain coverage in top media publications such as the Daily Mail, Express and Daily Star.
These Tweets and the subsequent news coverage generated can really boost a smaller operator’s profile and lead to huge spikes in player traffic and cost next to nothing.
Even for smaller operators, marketing is a significant cost base but by taking a smart and savvy approach it’s possible to deliver a superior ROI than the power players with their power budgets.