SBC correspondent Scott Longley examines why the online bingo industry has returned to basics and placed greater focus on content marketing, as operators and affiliates look to strengthen brand and product propositions in a highly saturated market.
You might be forgiven for thinking that the only lessons bingo can teach any sports-betting professionals is some handy rhyming slang for numbers. Yet anyone interested in engaging with their audience would do well to take a look at what some of the more forward thinking online bingo operators are doing by way of content marketing.
Particularly in the UK the online bingo audience is maturing but not in the same way as its land-based brethren where the worry is over an aging audience. As with the younger end of the sports-betting demographic, online bingo is dealing with a customer base which has grown up online, along with the product, and is looking for brands which have a broad appeal and don’t just offer them bonuses and offers.
Content marketing is the attempt to create and distribute relevant content to attract and acquire a clearly defined audience with the objective of driving profitable customer action either by changing or enhancing consumer behaviour.
“The challenge for our business is to try and engage with the bingo audience at a deeper level, to encourage more play with us and to keep them playing with us for a longer period of time,” says Eitan Gorodetsky, SEO account manager at WinkBingo.com.
The Winkly Magazine ( https//:winkly.winkbingo.com) is an online content site designed to encourage stickiness with features such as the recently added ‘complete guide to bingo’ (www.winkbingo.com/the-complete-guide-to-bingo). Gorodetsky says the guide is designed to be both entertaining and informative: “Bingo is a natural fit with this type of guide,” he says. “It’s instructional but it is also fun and ties in very well with the community-driven aspects of bingo that makes it so appealing to our audience.”
Sharon McFarlane is founder and managing director at Crystal Content which produces content and social media services for a number of online gaming brands. She suggests there is something unique about the bingo audience. “I think they are a different kind of consumer than in other B2C industries, and in turn content marketing strategies need to reflect that,” she says.
“Although they are of course motivated by things like acquisition and retention bonuses and promotions, what they also look for is a personal touch that gives them an idea as to what they can expect from operators in terms of community spirit.
The usual armoury of mail-outs, SMS messages and spam-like social media content won’t have the same conversion rates as in other online gaming sub-sectors, so to stand out an operator must work harder at creating unique content.
“Your brand needs to have its own personality no matter how many others there are on the same network as yours, and if you put the time in to create effective and content-rich marketing strategies this will go a long way towards doing this,” says McFarlane.
“Make a player feel comfortable, spend time thinking of content that they may be interested in – and that’s when you will find you get the best response. Pummel them with content that is solely about what offers you are running, and they may become disengaged.”
It is the difference between simply sending out a free bet and actually knowing what will entice the customer to return to your site. McFarlane says she is a fan of the Winkly project and other such content-led ideas. “Things like the introduction of online magazines is also a fantastic way of getting your brand out there and effective content across social media is a must,” she says.
Gorodetsky says the proof of concept comes from the consumer response. “We have seen a lot of traffic already for Winkly Bingo and we are hoping to add to those numbers with new features such as the complete guide,” he says. “The players enjoy it – that is the biggest message from the early responses; they are telling us they are enjoying the articles and we are seeing a noticeable social effect.”
It is likely we will see more such attempts at audience engagement, particularly if efforts like Winkly are seen to have an effect. Andy Edwards, the founder of bingo comparison site MadAaboutBingo.com and now chief executive of his own white-label site MummiesBingo.com, says that content marketing is now a “huge part” of his total spend.
“I think it’s hugely important to try new concepts and look at what competitors are doing as well as different markets as you may be able to captialise on a marketing tactic that is working well for a different industry and bring a new twist to it in your own industry.”
It will be interesting to see whether the softer approach might have resonance in other sectors. Concludes Gorodetsky:
“There isn’t a hard sell here. It really is about encouraging engagement. This type of marketing effort encourages a conversation between the player and our site, something that doesn’t necessarily happen with our other regular marketing efforts. This isn’t to say that these type of efforts don’t work. They do. But this acts as a complement.”