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Top 6 Online Player 
Acquisition Strategies for 
iGaming Operators

Marketer's guide how to acquire players for iGaming operators. Player sources, channels, pros and cons.

Executive Summary

Any igaming business owner’s objective is to have a lot of players that will ensure a growing revenue for their business. The question is: how to attract players to your online gambling website and motivate them to play/bet?  
                         
With the competition heating up within the igaming industry, getting the player’s attention becomes the ultimate precious resource. Merely building an awesome igaming website and expecting players to find you can be a waste of time.  

To help you acquire new players, we have done our research and reviewed numerous online strategies. In this ebook, we’ve put together a list of the most effective player acquisition strategies that can ensure a constant flow of players to your gaming and betting website.  

Here they are: Affiliate Marketing, SEO, Paid Search Marketing, Social Networks, and Digital Advertising Networks.

Each of the mentioned online player acquisition strategies has its pros and cons, all discussed in detail in this ebook. Taking into account the peculiarities of each strategy, igaming marketers will be able to choose the most effective one for their website.  

For instance, if you are looking for a free strategy with long-term trackability results to get a higher search engine ranking, then SEO is precisely what you need. Paid search marketing, on the other hand, is a more targeted solution, with short-term trackability results, but it can cost you a lot of money.  

The promotion of gambling content is not easy. Many websites and networks either totally refuse to display any gambling ads or tend to impose strict rules. Affiliate programmes or digital ad networks can be helpful in this situation. Affiliates use their own websites as funnels through which players get to your online gaming platforms. Meanwhile, digital ad networks employ their big inventory of gambling networks to get your ads to the right people.  

The strategies work best when integrated and strategically aligned. It would be wise of igaming marketers to use all these 5 strategies as one whole bundle, in order to achieve higher results in acquiring new players. 

Read the eBook to Gain a Better Insight Into Each of the Player Acquisition Strategies.

The importance of Player Acquisition in iGaming business.

The igaming industry has been on the rise over the past few decades. With vast money-making opportunities, it has manifested itself as a real goldmine for gaming operators. So, they hit the ground of igaming in the hope of getting their slice of the money pie. However, big profit promises are the one side of the coin. The tough struggle for player acquisition is the other side. After all, who are igaming businesses’ actual key profit boosters? That’s right!  Players! A LOT of players.

 

With more and more operators entering the igaming scene, the competition keeps heating up. As a result, having players give your gambling website a chance becomes a serious challenge. Igaming business owners jostle for winning players’ attention and securing their involvement. Hence, the fierce competition results in skyrocketing player acquisition costs.

 

The cost of player acquisition is the price online gambling operators are willing to pay to attract new players to their igaming platform. Calculating player acquisition cost is crucial for evaluating the value players bring to your igaming business. This is done by dividing the total amount of money spent on player acquisition by the total number of players acquired, as shown below.
Player acquisition requires forethought and well-planned strategies that encompass a myriad of processes, channels, marketing techniques, and resources. Here, we have put together 5 of the most effective online player acquisition strategies that can ensure a constant flow of players to your gaming and betting website. 

Top 6 Online Player

Acquisition Strategies

A good online player acquisition strategy is the driving force behind every successful igaming business. Of course, offline activities have their weighty role in directing player flow to your gaming and betting business. Yet, in this digital world, online player acquisition strategies provide better efficiency. A well-planned affiliate marketing, search engine optimisation (SEO), paid search marketing, social network marketing and digital media ads are the solid bricks that form the baseline of an effective player acquisition strategy. The five in-demand acquisition strategies will help you move the player acquisition needle, outperform the competition and generate more bang for your buck.

 

Let’s jump in and take a closer look at each of them!

 

 

#1. Affiliate Marketing

 

Affiliate marketing is a plug-and-play solution for igaming operators to market their website and acquire new players. It is an effective way to promote an online gambling website via the efforts of third-party marketers. That is to say, affiliate marketing is like hiring a whole marketing team at a performance based compensation basis. Affiliates use their own website as a funnel through which players get to your online gaming website. This is done by placing your links and ad banners on their websites.
 
Affiliates promote your gambling website in return for a revenue share. Depending on the players’ actions, affiliates get a certain percentage of commission from the partner, i.e. cost-per-action approach is applicable for affiliate marketing. Or, affiliates can get a percentage from the losses of players, which is known as a cost-per-sale approach. In a nutshell, affiliate marketing is a performance-based marketing  strategy. Thus, affiliates are usually very enthusiastic to bring more good players to your online gaming website to get higher commissions. The rule of thumb is that the more players they direct to your website, the higher their share will be.
 
‘’Affiliate programmes generate 15%–30% of all sales for advertisers.’’

 

Unlike other industries, gambling affiliates are usually experienced players themselves or igaming business holders. Most of them successfully run their blogs on igaming or have their websites. This factor is certainly the greatest perk of sportsbook and casino affiliate marketing. Why? Firstly, because gaming affiliate marketers know all the ins and outs of the industry. Secondly, this empowers them to bring super relevant traffic into your igaming website with higher conversion rates.

 

To sum up, there are several unarguable advantages affiliate marketing holds over the other online player acquisition strategies:

 

⤖It is performance-based
⤖It is easily trackable
⤖It is overly relevant
⤖It ensures a high ROI.

 

As an online gaming website owner, you can bring your website to the attention of professional gaming affiliates with good commission rates and a high reputation.  At the same time, rewarding your best-performing affiliates with higher commissions or bonuses will encourage them to put more effort into diverting players to your website.  But do not forget that it takes a great deal of effort to partner with a really good and reputable affiliate. Whatever the case, one experienced and qualified affiliate brings significantly more value to your igaming website than 3 novices. It is also recommended to create a page on your website that would allow affiliates to sign up and take your ready-made banners to their platforms.

#2. SEO for Sportsbook and Online Casinos

Anyone who builds an igaming website holds the vision of ranking high in SERP (Search Engine Results Page) and being easily found by potential players. Without having a high-profile presence in SERPs, your igaming website will not get much traffic, if any at all. And this is where SEO promotion can do wonders.

 

Optimising your igaming website’s content for the search engines will help you stay at the top of search pages and be quickly found by players. Fortunately, Google provides SEO guidelines for webmasters that make your website show up in top SERP listings.
 
Having a blog on your website that covers industry-related topics can be a real SEO-booster. It helps to build trust with potential players and adds credibility to your website. More importantly, blogs increase your chances to beat out your competitors on the search engine results page. Quality content in your blog, enriched with relevant keywords, is a significant factor for Google (or other search engines) in the process of assessing your website.
75% of users never scroll past the first page of search results’’.
 Well-researched, keyword-rich (but not stuffed) and player-oriented content will help your igaming website hold top positions in organic search results. Your content should be dynamic, value-driven, entertaining in such a way that it prompts bets and motivates players to take action. It must also satisfy the actual needs of the players. This means that you should clearly envision what your players google for and optimise your content accordingly.

 

For instance, it is a well-known fact that online bonuses are the best triggers for players. Hence, ‘’best online casino bonuses’’ is statistically among players’ most searched phrases. So, why not target specifically the players looking for the best online casino bonuses and improve the ranking for the keyword? Just optimise your content around the keyword (title, meta description, alt text) and get easily found by your potential players. There are several resources (Google Trends being one of the most popular ones) where you can find keywords that people often type in when using the Google search box.
‘’Content is King’’,-Bill Gates.
 
Website organisation is another pivotal component for being favoured by search engines. A good site structure means greater user experience, which in return ensures lower bounce rates. The lower the bounce rates, the higher the chances of appearing on the front page. Seamless navigation, intuitive design, loading speed and responsiveness form an SEO-friendly website structure, doubling player acquisition chances. The proper site organisation enables search engines to find and index content much faster.
 
Therefore, accurate organisation of your gaming and betting website could become an essential factor for ranking high and acquiring new players.

 

Website authority is all about link building. Backlinks give your igaming website an extra boost in authority. This, in return, triggers your ranking. The more authoritative websites link to your content, the more trustworthy source you will appear to be in the eyes of Lady Google. To Google, a link to your igaming website from another industry leader is a vote of confidence. It signals that you offer something valuable that people want to share. With this in mind, igaming webmasters should make sure their websites distribute quality and reliable content that others would like to link to. The three most effective natural link building strategies  in the gambling industry include:
 
- Engaging, quality content. Focus on crafting unique, research-based content. Everything else will take care of itself. A good, player-oriented content makes it possible to deliver value to your players, and to provide them with unforgettable sports betting experience.This multiplies the chances of being linked by players as their favourite source.  In other words, players bring players.
 
- Social shares: Your igaming website should be interesting enough for players to want to share it on their social platforms. Who wouldn’t like to share their achievements with friends? So, increase your reach in a natural way, give them the chance of telling their friends about their victories.
 
49% of players share information about the products they like with the hope to change opinions or encourage actions.

 

- Email outreach: Perhaps, this is not the most natural and effective way of building links. Statistics reveal that at least 5 out of 100 emails you send out are normally linked back to your website. Yet, do not get overexcited with player acquisition possibilities that email marketing offers.  A poorly structured or wrongly targeted email can have quite a reverse effect, making you appear as a spammer. The fundamentals to consider when sending out emails are as follows:1) know your readers, 2) deliver value, 3) prompt players to take action.
You can make your sports betting and gaming website more SEO-friendly and higher ranked in SERP with the help of SpringBuilder SEO app.
Originally designed for igaming website, SpringBuilder SEO app fully optimizes your gaming and betting website for search engines.

#3. Paid Search Marketing

To elevate their website above the digital competition, many igaming businesses complement their organic search engine optimisation efforts (SEO) with paid initiatives. Online ads encompass everything from static images to auto-play videos.

 

PPC and CPC are highly valuable online ad methods that ensure steady player traffic into a sportsbook or casino website. These are targeted, fast, easily trackable and provide high-level website exposure. In the Google system, you place a “bid” for a certain keyword, (for example, “best online casino”) and every time somebody searches for that keyword, your ad will appear in the search results. You have a chance to outrank the competition by bidding more. Back in 2016, the most expensive keyword in the gambling industry cost $180. And guess what the word was. The gold-worth keyphrase was ‘play live Blackjack’.

 

The statistical portal Statista presented the most expensive keywords in Google Adwords Advertising, as of June 2017 (in U.S. dollars). “Business services” happened to be the highest-ranking and most expensive keyword on Google AdWords platform, with 58.64 USD per click. “Bail bonds”  held the second position, letting Google earn just 16 cents less for clicks in the keyword-related searches. “Casino” was the third high-priced keyword costing $55.48 avg. CPC.
When it comes to gambling, online advertising platforms (Google Ads, in particular) become exceedingly careful. Yet, it’s not rocket science. If online gaming websites manage to follow the special requirements imposed by ad platforms, they will be able to buy traffic via online ads. If you want to advertise your online gambling website, you must be certified by Google. This is how you can apply for certification:

 

 - Check the policy and country-specific requirements first. Make sure you meet those requirements.
 - Fill out online gambling application form, if you are operating in one of the countries where online gambling content ads are permitted.
 - Use this form, if you operate in one of the countries where only state-run entities are allowed.
 - Fill out the form, if you are a social casino game operator.
 
“Even YouTube, (owned by Google) recently removed hundreds of videos advertising links to legitimate online poker sites.”
 
In addition to Google requirements, there are further restrictions based on the countries your campaign targets. For more details, view Google’s Gambling country restrictions list.

#4.Social networks

Social networks are another channel online gaming websites use to acquire new players. Though direct advertising of gambling content is prohibited or restricted by the majority of social networks, online casinos and sportsbooks still use them to communicate with potential players.
‘’Facebook allows ads that promote or facilitate online real money gambling only with prior written permission.’’

 

Online gambling businesses can also harness the potential of social network pages by using them as platforms for announcing special promos, bonuses and discounts. In this way, they can motivate players to visit their websites and play.

 

Social media networks greatly contribute to the recognition of your brand. Regularly posting some engaging igaming-related content with powerful CTAs on your social media pages will motivate players to take action, i.e. place bets or play.

 

“Content is King...but distribution is queen and she wears pants,’’-Jonathan Perelman.

 

Finally, to further increase your chances of success in acquiring new players, make yourself known on question-and-answer networks (such as Quora) or forums. Q&A networks open a window of opportunity for igaming website owners. They can connect directly with their potential players by providing industry-related expert answers to their questions. As you give helpful advice and answers, you gain trust, expertise and influence in the eyes of players. Without establishing trust among potential players, it’s far more difficult to prompt them to bet and play on your igaming website. In the case of gaming and betting, the most popular Q&A platforms include NeoGAF, Gamefaqs, AskGamblers and Reddit. These forums enable gaming operators or marketers to gain solid backlinks and to lead players to their online sportsbook or casino.

#5 Digital advertising networks

Digital advertising networks serve as mediators between the advertiser, i.e. the online gambling website, and the publisher, i.e. the website on which your gambling ad is to be displayed. They can help igaming operators coordinate ad campaigns across thousands of publisher websites in a very efficient manner. They use their big inventory of gambling networks to take your ads to the right people. This is done by delivering your ad to the publisher’s website through an ad server. The server sends a code to the publisher’s website that calls the ad. The digital ad network’s ad server makes it possible to target players, track and make a report on the campaign. Publishers earn commision on ad revenues.
 
Digital advertising networks generally work according to the following pricing options:

 

- Cost-per-mile (CPM):This is the price that an advertiser pays for one thousand ad views.
- Cost-per-click (CPC): An online advertising model in which an advertiser pays when the ad is clicked.          
- Cost-per-acquisition (CPA): This pricing model suggests that the advertiser pays for a specified acquisition.
- Cost-per-view for video (CPV): The payout is triggered each time the video ad is viewed. Most ad networks count 30 seconds as a video view when charging for CPV.

 

To help you save your time, we have researched and reviewed a lot of advertising networks in the igaming industry. Here are the top igaming digital ad networks that can skyrocket your success in terms of player acquisition:
As far as  igaming ad networks are concerned, Venatusmedia.com is the first one that comes to mind. It’s the leading ad network that primarily specialises in distributing entertainment, gaming and gambling content.  Its major target market is Europe, with various geographic, demographic, site-specific, contextual, retargeting, channel targeting opportunities.  Advertisers offer CPM, CPC, CPV payment options.
Offers a wide range of niches, including gaming and gambling content. Though it’s Europe-based, the geographic market outreach expands worldwide AdBoosters.com provides demographic, site-specific, contextual, retargeting, purchase-based and channel targeting possibilities (i.e. showing your ad in certain sections of a website). As an advertiser, you can choose your payment type from the following available options: CPM, CPC, CPA, CPV, Auction.
Taboola.com boasts a vast network of about 200.000 publishers worldwide. The most outstanding ones are MSN, FoxSport, NBC, USA Sport, Bild, Hearst, Bloomberg, Business Insider, Daily Mail.  Having an extensive network makes Taboola one of the major traffic providers. So, if your goal is to end up with a high click volume, then Taboola is your best choice. Of course, no one guarantees that your ad will appear on the above-mentioned high-ranking websites. But you can still promote gambling if you use that network efficiently. Taboola accepts payments on a CPM, CPC, CPCV  basis. You can target your campaign by location, platform, operating system, and audience. The key target markets are Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Europe, India, Japan, United Kingdom, United States.
Bidvertiser.com is another standard ad network that supports gaming and gambling content. What distinguishes Bidadviser.com is that it offers a wide range of targeting mechanisms: geotargeting, device targeting, time-of-day targeting, interest targeting, contextual targeting, etc. The network charges on a CPM and CPC basis and handles campaigns starting from $5 a day.  To advertisers, the biggest advantage Bidvertiser gives is that they can select the sites they want to place their ads on, as opposed to letting some network algorithms make choices on their behalf. Bidvertiser.com provides global targeting market coverage.

#Player Referral Bonuses

Have you ever thought that your existing players can serve as a marketing channel to bring new players in? Player referral programmes make it possible to leverage your existing player base for acquiring new customers.

 

Say, you have a base of about 100,000 players and they each have at least 3 friends with similar gambling interests. That makes roughly 300,000 highly targeted players within your potential reach.

 

Though referrals may not ensure as high a volume of players as other marketing channels, they can maintain your existing player base with a growing number of more loyal players.
Referral incentives are no longer news in gambling. Many online platforms reward existing players with certain benefits, in exchange for inviting others to their playing and betting websites.

 

Online gambling businesses usually get the referral wheels turning through a reward or a chance to invite friends to play/compete with. In fact, very few players will refer your igaming website to others, if there’s nothing to expect in return. They’d rather do so for a good gain.

 

Refer a friend and get a reward’’ technique has at least once been practised by almost every online gambling business out there. Here is how it works. For each player they bring in, a referee is rewarded with a fixed amount of money to be used in betting/playing. Or, they get some percentage from the referral’s first deposit.

 

In most cases, both the referee and the referred friend get rewards. Let’s take the example of William Hill, one of the world's biggest bookmakers. This leading bookmaker offers equal rewards for the referrer and the referee alike, within the scope of its ”Invite a Friend’’ referral programme. The existing player is rewarded with a £50 bonus when the friend they referred makes the first deposit. Moreover, the referred friend gets a £50 referral bonus, too. This is a win-win situation, equally for players and the operator. Both existing and new players get their rewards, while the operator enhances its player base with new customers.

 

Tapping on players’ need for competition is another way to motivate them to bring their friends along to your online gaming/betting platform. In this case, a referral programme allows players to invite their friends to compete against one another.

 

The game Betfights, offered by industry-leading igaming software provider BetConstruct, is a good example of players bringing along friends to compete with. The game allows players to invite other sporting enthusiasts onto the board and challenge their football forecasts for real money. This is a good player acquisition method that boosts players’ competitiveness while ensuring a flow of new players to your igaming website.

 

Note, that referral marketing can be quite an effective player acquisition tool.  But for referrals to work, you should sustain your existing player base over time. For that, please take your time to read ‘Retention strategies’’.

Final Thoughts

In this era of technological transformation, innovative digital player acquisition strategies outpace the traditional ones. The battle for players’ attention is now happening on online platforms, with digital weaponry. Online casino and sportsbook owners need to establish a solid online presence in order to engage with potential players at every touchpoint.

 

Affiliate marketing, search engine optimisation, price-per-click ads and social networking are all the ingredients of a successful player acquisition strategy. To achieve higher results in acquiring new players, it is recommended that gaming operators promote their online gaming websites using all these 6 strategies as one whole bundle.