Leyton Orient fans

EnergyBet’s Simona Pinterova: Focusing resources on quality interactions with the fans

EnergyBet is the main club sponsor for Leyton Orient FC, as well as the official in stadia betting partner for Millwall FC.

The Malta-based operator, whose affiliate partner scheme has been nominated for a prize at the upcoming SBC Awards, is committed to connecting with the fans of its partners.

We spoke to Simona Pinterova, PR and Media Manager at EnergyBet, to discuss going beyond the traditional sponsorship parameters, making its mark on social media, working with the right affiliates to reach a wider audience and developing alternative ideas to acquire new customers.

SBC: How do you ensure that there is a connection with the fans of Leyton Orient that extends beyond just appearing on the kit and advertising channels?

SP: From the very beginning of our relationship, we have been committed to connecting with the club’s fans, and have ensured that we have a visible presence on the ground for most home matches. We send our in-house promotional hosts, the EnergyGirls, and members of our UK marketing team, to personally meet and interact with fans inside and outside the stadium.

We often organise fun competitive events, like penalty shoots and hand out promotional merchandise – giving us a chance to meet individual fans on a one-to-one level. This kind of grassroots interaction is critical to gaining the respect of fans who really cherish their club; and as a sponsor we are grateful to have been warmly welcomed into the Leyton Orient family.

SBC: Where do you stand on the battle for social media supremacy; given the size of the Twitter and Facebook following enjoyed by the likes of bet365, are you better off interacting with clusters of fans or groups for a specific football team rather than pitching to a wider audience?

SP: With regards to social media, we have taken a pragmatic approach. As you pointed out, the giants like bet365 do have huge followings – but we understand that it is not just about numbers.

In truth, the social media landscape is now in a very different place to where it was when players like bet365 started building their followings, and it would be an exercise in futility to throw resources at trying to emulate their numbers.

Rather, now, we are focusing our limited resources on quality interactions with specific groups of fans – though we are constantly looking at trends with a view to identifying broader opportunities.

SBC: Do you choose the affiliates you work with based on their ability to reach fans of a certain demographic or football level, or is this more based on maximising exposure for EnergyBet?

SP: We do love to work with affiliates who are able to reach fans of the clubs we sponsor – as we can maximise the impact of promotions and tailor specific, exclusive content for them.

But, saying that, at this stage, we are focused on maximising exposure for EnergyBet across the broadest range of sports and markets, so we welcome any affiliate who demonstrates a positive attitude and a commitment to maintaining our high standards.

SBC: Given the rise in bonus related disputes and the tightening of regulations related to affiliate marketing, we are building up to ‘Life beyond the bonus’ at #bofcon2018; do you think that customer bonuses will continue to form a key part of an operator’s acquisition strategy?

SP: It’s a difficult one to answer, because as you mentioned, things are changing fast. The affiliate industry has been somewhat of a ‘Wild West’ environment, and now, very suddenly, authorities are scrambling to get control – and this means some overreactions and mistakes will be made.

Given this uncertainty, it’s impossible to say what future acquisition strategies will look like. Really, the only reasonable approach for operators is to remain open-minded and flexible. We will continue to develop bonus-based strategies, but at the same time make alternative plans too. Right now, there are so many variables at play, that flexibility is the key thing.