Why use a specialist iGaming growth agency?

Digital Fuel  • 

As the online gambling industry continues to increase considerably in size, especially following the introduction of new markets around the world, it means that the demand for related growth services has, by extension, increased.

Marketing is a vital function of an online gambling company, and as such, this done in the right way helps to establish and grow a successful brand; however, there are a number of ways to do this to achieve the desired results.

The crucial thing to bear in mind here is that success is not achieved overnight; however, with the power of social media, there are several ways in which to make an impact if these are executed in the right way. This, of course, takes investment, and like anything of this nature, it can be high risk and results are not guaranteed.

In fact, any marketing agency that “guarantees results” or an “x percentage ROI” should, at the very least, be treated with caution, if not avoided entirely. Especially in the online gambling and sports betting industry.

There are many instances where an online gambling company may wish to use a specialist agency for its growth strategy. One prospect could be a start-up firm that has funding in place but has not perhaps thought about operations and even the best techniques that it can use when it comes to marketing and is perhaps looking for a full-service.

Alternatively, another prospect could be a well-established operator that has not achieved the desired results that it was looking for with a former agency. Usually, big, established operators will use several agencies for a particular marketing discipline. For example, one for content, social media and SEO, another for traditional advertising campaigns (television) and even another for graphic design. Each of these will sometimes work in tandem with one another. Or, if it is a sizeable, well-established agency, these will offer the full, comprehensive service.

It could be that one particular agency has caused an operator to be hit with a Google penalty (from a worst-case scenario), or perhaps the blog content being produced is not achieving enough page views, and ultimately the click-through rate is low.

However, it is not just operators who use marketing agencies. Big affiliate companies also outsource quite a lot of their content needs. While most of these use freelancers, it is not uncommon for agencies to be involved, especially an affiliate company that has many different websites.

Below we have explored in more detail what operators and affiliates can hope to gain from using an iGaming marketing agency, whether you are focused on casino, sports betting, eSports or even bingo!

What should you consider when deciding what agency to use?

There are a few factors here that relate to this. You may first become aware of an agency for a number of reasons. The first could be an approach entirely out of the blue, though if the pitch is executed to perfection, then the company may be worth exploring further. 

Another could be because of great branding from an agency that comes across your radar, which has resulted in the agency becoming somewhat of an authority in this sector. Of course, industry events such as ICE can be a great way to become aware of agencies who will use this opportunity to showcase what they can do, perhaps even have guest-speaking slots or may just be efficient networkers.

Perhaps the most effective is word of mouth. You may have a senior manager who has joined your company that has worked with a particular agency before and knows them by reputation - this is always worth factoring in. 

Of course, results and reputation speak for themselves where agencies are concerned. In contrast, the best ones will actively go out of their way to hire the best talent in the industry, who may have connections with operators having worked at these previously and are aware of the internal mechanics. Often, the best agencies will promote this, primarily via a press release, and this can elevate the agency’s status overnight, leading to them gaining more credibility with future potential prospects. 

Even then, it is always worth doing your research on agencies while you are considering them. Launch date and how long an agency has been around can be redundant factors if the executive team has significant credibility in the industry, which can make an instant impact on behalf of possible clients.

Industry accreditations can also make a big difference, especially from an authority standpoint - agencies that are a Google partner, for example, will be aware of the latest trends from an SEO perspective. At the same time, it is also a seal of approval from arguably the most influential company in the world.

If you are an operator that functions in different markets, it is definitely worth finding out how much involvement that an agency has had in these and what its track record is. 

The best agencies will be passionate about understanding your business objectives from a short, medium and long-term perspective and be able to advise appropriately on the best course of action on how to achieve these. 

From an initial exploratory meeting or call, which is essentially a more detailed fact-finding exercise, the agency will then be able to create a document tailored to your requirements. Following this, another call can be arranged to agree on the SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable and Time-orientated) objectives. 

How iGaming agencies can help operators

There are a number of factors to consider here that are worth thinking about before you commit to an agency. We have broken these down into different sections below.

Do we have investment in place?

For most companies, this can help swift growth and assist in achieving objectives quickly so that the business can be scaled and progressed efficiently to keep abreast of competitors and industry trends. 

As a result, understanding this and what needs to be done means that you can budget effectively and know how much investment (if any) is required to meet these goals. 

Sourcing investment in this industry can be a challenging process - even creating a business plan that will appeal to investors - especially those who are in the know about this industry. Having an acute awareness of the industry as a whole and what your competitors are doing can help you differentiate - a crucial element in attracting investment. 

Of course, many factors are involved in crafting the best pitch - what is it that you are going to do that will appeal to customers, and why will they register and stay loyal? What will be unique, though not too far ahead of the curve? Are there plans to develop continually as customers become savvy to new technologies?

Answering all of these questions in your investment pitch can make your profit and loss forecast more realistic, or at least forgivable if you have shown an intimate and insightful awareness of the industry in your pitch. 

Deciding on the amount of investment you need takes a lot of aforethought. Of course, there are several stages of funding. Pre-seed, Series A, Series B, Series C and in some cases, Series D. Each one is in logical stages, and it essentially (at least initially) increases the value of a business. In a lot of cases, each funding round requires a business to have met certain objectives, such as hitting a particular revenue figure. 

Factors for Consideration 

  • How much investment is required? - will this meet your initial goals

Once you have worked out how much investment is required for your operator, it usually means that you have created a business plan and, as a result, have an idea of how you would like the business to progress over a set timeframe. What is key here, though, is to factor in any potential problems that can be deemed to be unforeseen. 

It is always hard to anticipate problems that are outside of your control, especially when compiling a pitch for investors, however, it is something that they will want you to have taken into account. 

Knowing that the level of investment required (for your particular) stage and what it can cover will give you confidence - particularly if it is possible to calculate the ROI within this time-frame.

  • Has the budget been allocated?

This is a fundamental part of any investment proposal. Any investor will want to know how the funds will be allocated and the potential upside. It is important to be honest from the beginning at this stage - further down the line as events unfold, you may realise that you have over/under calculated the budget and, as such can dedicate funds from other areas of the business plan (proving full transparency). 

  • Is there a plan to onboard more investment?

The vast majority of companies who take investment on board usually have a plan to progress through the various funding rounds, from Pre-Seed/Seed to Series D, with the value of the company increasing at each stage, based on revenue generated. It can take anywhere between three and eight years to get to the final stage, depending on the industry and performance of the business.

  • What does your growth and exit plan look like?

Having an understanding of what your end goal, is vital. The online gambling industry is one of the most prominent when it comes to merger and acquisition activity, while the same could be said for IPO’s (Initial Public Offerings). Very rare in the industry now, is that a company transitions into a behemoth and acquires every competitor in sight, similar to that of Entain and Flutter Entertainment.

What stage is the operator at?

It is crucial to be honest with yourself at this point. In this industry, even three years in is still considered a ‘start-up’ phase, though if you are here, you should at least have some kind of traction. 

What is important is how effectively you are able to translate what you have spent and what the results are, both from a qualitative and quantitative perspective. For example, it is hard to identify the effect that a television advertising or sponsorship campaign has had numerically, though it no doubt could have contributed to the overall value of a brand in terms of onboarding investment. 

When you understand exactly where you are as a business and what phase you are in, it makes it easier to create an investment pitch and narrow down exactly on the amount that you are wanting to raise. 

In 2021, companies looking for Series A level investment had a median value of $24 million, while Series C investors identified IPO or takeover potential as the next serious stage in a business.

How does a growth agency fit into all of this?

The vast majority of your investment is likely going to be attributed towards increasing your company’s performance and identifying how you do this, in addition to getting the strategy right is key.

This is where specialist agencies can fit in, who cover everything from a 360 degree perspective - with a firm focus on an exit that makes sense. Those that are the best fully understand what your goals, aims and objectives are and can even help you in identifying these and ultimately creating a roadmap to assist in getting you there.

Everything from knowing what forms of marketing to implement at specific stages and having an idea of the expected results, as well as what works in certain regions (markets), based on customer behaviour in different cultures to at which point you need to hire permanent staff internally, whether outsourcing is the most effective route and where best to locate your tech servers. 

Being able to implement all of this, is of course key and the best agencies, not only talk a good game, but walk it. Factoring all of the above in and being able to make an informed decision is vital. There is a huge amount of potential for operators in the online gambling industry, if they get it right.

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