This is a guest contribution by Robbie Davies. If you would like to submit a contribution please contact Bill Beatty for submission details. Thank you.
Maybe you don’t care about landing pages. Maybe your product/service is so amazing that consumers are going gangbusters to give you their money regardless. Maybe you sell Furbys, Beanie Babies or Tickle Me Elmos.
In gaming it is different. Let’s be frank. This is the ultimate persuasion advertising industry. There are no Furby’s around here. Just casino, sports betting or poker offers.
Landing pages are one of the most important factors in online marketing these days, hands down, period, end of story. This is tragically not obvious in enough businesses in this space. I wish more folks would get with the times and realize it isn’t 2009 anymore.
If only some of these companies had invested their time and money into conversion tech instead of getting into the USA huh?
Pro tip: care about landing pages.
The purpose of this article is to take a high level look at what landing pages mean in the gaming world followed by a sample case study on PokerStrategy.com current efforts. The goal is to promote positive iterations. A movement of marketing change.
Getting Started – Landing Pages in Gaming
To a wider audience, a landing page may mean any page on any website. For the sake of the advertising and marketing industries it is defined differently. Simply as a page which is specifically made with a conversion goal in mind. These pages are used solely as a vehicle to elicit action by a consumer.
A succinct way to explain this in a larger business framework is to view landing pages as super glue that bind various marketing efforts to your customer buying journey.
Pro tip: It is paramount to keep message match in mind. When people finish reading something, they seek purpose to continue on the journey. Make sure this next message matches the previous message.
In gaming, landing pages exist in two very purposeful ways that I would recommend (there are some other types, but I never really focused with those).
- Lead generation. A lead gen page’s purpose is to capture information, which can be used in future marketing efforts. An example would be a signup page for an interested party to receive future offers. Clicking on a Bodog registration call to action is a prime example of this page at work.
- Click through. A click through landing page is meant to be an accelerator, encouraging a click to a next page. The idea is to start a chain lightning process of clicks via call to actions. Imagine clicking that big ‘play poker’ now button which immediately starts the download of the client. The page that button is on is a click through page. These are by far the most common.
Pretty straightforward stuff in gaming. Generate leads and convert them to players through your pages.
Gaming Space – A Deeper Look
Pro tip: trust. Build it.
Gaming is a persuasion industry. It feeds off of impulse not logic. Everyone knows the house has an edge yet they choose to play. Put on some empathy and get in the customers shoes for a moment. Wear that lens before making marketing decisions and the industry will be a better place.
When I look around the gaming space, I see a mishmash of incredible landing page campaigns mixed up with some really weak ones. Some of these companies have been around since the early 2000’s, if not earlier. Some companies have gotten with the times. The fastest growing operator for example (888), does everything right. On the flip side, I scratch my head at some of the schoolboy errors predominant with others.
I have been in the loop neck deep for years with the top businesses. I have heard many remarks on the effort put into their landing pages. An incredible amount of thought and budget has been put in. I have heard everything from text color to syllables per page has been A/B tested to death. Traffic has been segmented every which way and the cohort analysis is an everyday discussion with these top companies.
There are lessons to be learned for the smaller fish. With the industry in the shape it is now, it is more urgently important than ever to evolve one’s marketing efforts, not just the top few. As a stakeholder in this industry I want it to grow. Positive advancement is on my agenda, all that warm and fuzzy stuff.
When I say ‘Gaming Space’ I am looking at landing pages from two major sources, operators and entertainment sites.
Here are some trends from the two sides:
- They all lead to the same one thing (well the good ones) and that is a download button.
- There is a pretty big disparity on how operators do their pages.
- Some of them have 2-3 leak points, while others have 30-40 leak points. I prefer less leak points. Interestingly there are many on-page leaks in some of the biggest gaming company’s side of landing pages. I don’t know if this is a choice, or simply because they are the #1 company (if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it).
- Most of the big companies control the paradox of choice and use a singular strong call to action.
- They use many dedicated landing page campaigns.
Entertainment Sites (Affiliates and Promotional).
- It is a different model for entertainment sites compared to the operators. Same concepts apply, but rules are slightly different.
- These sites may need customers to go down a longer funnel.
- These sites rely on backend data from the operators on how successful their landing page campaigns are.
- Since they also don’t control the information that the operators have, it is much more difficult undertaking and much easier to get screwed.
- Not using very good dedicated landing page campaigns.
My findings here and experience dictate a simple reality (and conversion industry best practice says) that dedicated landing page campaigns are the way to go.
Dedicated Landing Page Campaigns are the Real MVP
Planning on a social media post? Use dedicated landing pages.
Trying some PPC email marketing? Use dedicated landing pages.
Embarking on some content marketing? Use dedicated landing pages.
Get the idea yet…?
Anything that falls under the marketing umbrella in your business should use some form of dedicated landing page. A masterful landing page campaign with strong testing and tracking behind it can be worth a million bucks.
Pro tip: if your home page is your landing page, you are doing it wrong.
If you are sending traffic to your homepage through your marketing efforts, than you are doing it wrong, very wrong. I hear excuses all the time. Excuses and reasons why it is fine when challenged. I got news for you, it isn’t ok.
“Well, you see, I decided that I want my visitors to have a choice. Maybe they want to read news, maybe they want to read some strategy articles too.”
No, no, no, no, no. Focus on the dedicated entrance to the funnel and reap the rewards.
The company I want to iterate on is PokerStrategy.com. I didn’t make it this far in the industry by being shy of iteration.
PokerStrategy.com were the big dogs of the affiliate industry for many years. They won the iGaming award for top affiliate each and every year in the Golden Era. Dominik Kofert and his team were rolling in the dough, kicking ass and taking names. They did great things for gaming as a whole, sending copious amounts of players down their funnels. All poker players should be thankful of them on this level, bolstering the poker economy. They were one of the top community sites.
I gazed upon this business for years as my top competitor. I envied them. If Poker Strategy does it, it must be right. They brought tech innovation to the table with the SideKick. They had great momentum. They had clever minds. They made it look so easy.
But it didn’t last.
As the industry matured, they hit the skids. Their model wasn’t very good for the operators as it turned out. They promoted micro grinding rake farmers playing with house money and trying to cash out. They pushed refer a friend deals which bled the operators and ecosystems dry.
They won market share with speed to market, great negotiating, a novel and interactive quiz and a lead generation juggernaut machine, doling out a free 50$ offer to every Tom, Dick and Harry.
When the wheels fell off, the founders sold the business.
So what have they done lately? Not a heck of a lot by the look of things. Checking the site now versus the old days, I see very little has changed in terms of conversion design. I would wager their revenue run-rate is not what it once was either.
I wanted to run a small test on their landing pages.
Mission: “Do I become a lead?” “Will I click through?”
I decided to follow them on Twitter recently, to see how they were funnelling players via social media to their click through pages.
I saw one compelling headline for a promotion for busto players and decided to click it.
Busto? Check out our free money offers! http://t.co/WrTeAMSy0K
— PokerStrategy.com (@enPokerStrategy) December 2, 2014
The page it took me to was not nice. It was a cluster-f*ck of a click through page. When I got to this page (see page below), I felt lost. I didn’t trust the message match.
“It is all wrong,” I muttered to myself.
“It is leaving too much to chance”.
Simply not what I expected from such a former mighty champion of the industry.
Pro Tip: If someone clicks through from a social campaign, it should always go to a dedicated landing page.
There are so many leaks on this page, over 30 leaks and this is the above the fold graphic.
Sure, there are a lot of offers here, too many. Part of me thinks it can’t be real. The link I clicked to get here said ‘free bankroll’ but this has offers on it that are not for free bankrolls at all. Too good to be true, it could be untrustworthy. Even if it is legitimate, how do I make up my mind? I don’t have time for this….
Mission Status: Failure.
(Disclaimer – this is my opinion and experience. I may not be the target market. Take it for what it is)
I don’t think they get many signups anymore.
If that twitter link had gone directly to a landing page with a huge button that takes you to download a room, with a free dollar amount, it would be much more successful. Roll that into an emerging market, set it and forget it.
Witnessing PokerStrategy make these mistakes isn’t as surprising as one may think. The boom that kicked off this industry led to a false sense of ‘doing it right.’ So much money was coming in so it didn’t really matter. But it really matters now. I have seen (and even warned) countless companies falling into this same trap. Companies with bosses from Ivy League schools or staffed with MBAs. Yet still, they get bit.
So one minute PokerStrategy is a multi-million dollar revenue stream and the next minute it is in the dumps. Check out this graphic of their traffic. It is not good.
Has Innovation and talent with marketing become that scarce? That challenging?
Part of me thinks because the gaming industry has been such a roller coaster ride of insanity on many levels, that folks in the industry can get stuck and stop producing ideas. Stuck pre-UIGEA, stuck-post UIGEA, stuck worrying about the USA, or Holland, or Canada, or… the list goes on, wherever, but they are stuck.
Time for Change
Anyone that has read this far has figured out that a quality dedicated landing page campaign in today’s maturing environment is mission success critical.
The gaming industry is coming out of the fringes. It is becoming regulated and trustworthy. It is time to up the ante and promote this industry using marketing best practice so this industry can continue to support thousands of our families.
The ultimate beneficial purpose of this column is to show areas where we can improve our marketing efforts. It is time to look outside gaming and into the conversion tech sector for ideas.
Believe me on this. I have run hundreds if not thousands of campaigns. I know what works.
Robbie brings over 10 years of online marketing and tech industry experience to the table and has mentored and led award winning teams of writers, IT professionals, marketing innovators and executives from around the world. He has been in various leadership positions for hundreds of websites. You can connect with Robbie Via LinkedIn and Twitter.