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Digital Age

The basics of using digital marketing to improve casino business

Digital Age

It’s a digital age. Across industries, most businesses offer their clients and guests access to mobile, web and social platforms to learn more about the company, find information and interact with others who have similar interests.

Digital marketing is a cost-efficient, effective way to communicate with current and potential guests in a timely manner. With savvy websites, search engine optimization (SEO), social media marketing and mobile campaigns, casinos can engage and communicate with their clientele, opening doors for feedback, branding and loyalty.

Casinos are social in nature, so implementing digital social platforms should be a natural marketing extension. Start with questions like: What do guests want to know about before or after visiting this casino? What would draw more people to these platforms? What kind of social media plan would work best for this location?

To help work through these questions and develop a digital marketing plan for a casino, read these tips on websites, SEO, social media marketing and mobile optimization.

Websites

Anyone can make a website, but it takes real skill to create a site that will draw in viewers and drive guests to an actual casino. A good site starts with good design. How should the site feel to viewers? What kind of options should they have? What kind of information might they look for? Does the site offer online casino games?

Make the most important information prominent and clear. Tabs like Location/Hours, Casino Games, Guides and Events might be important to the site. If a site visitor can’t find this information easily, another casino page is just a click away.

Interact with users. Link to social media, the casino blog, and a contact page for users to ask questions or give feedback. Linking to social media is as simple as including a button on the sidebar of the page to connect with Facebook, Twitter and any other social media the casino is affiliated with.

Create compelling content and keep the text simple. If the material isn’t interesting, viewers will move on to something else. Create “hooks” that draw in readers and keep the information relevant to readers. Find a tone for the site and stick to it. Is it professional and clean or casual and fun? Whatever the tone, keep it consistent through all of the digital marketing. While creating exciting content may encourage the use of exclamation marks, keep them to a minimum to avoid overwhelming readers.

Once the content is in place, write for the reader. Black text on a white background is the easiest to read. Most online viewers read in an “F”-shaped pattern, mostly absorbing text at the beginning of paragraphs and on the left side of the screen. If there is information that is very important or interesting to viewers, it would be best to place it near the top of paragraphs and toward the right side.

Text breaks also help viewers absorb information and can make a large block of text much more inviting. Leave white space on the page to allow the viewer’s eyes to rest before tackling the next bit of information and break up the rhythm of paragraphs with shorter sentences and longer ones.

Use images and graphics to interest viewers. Pages full of text and no images will deter viewers. Create a homepage with the ambiance viewers feel when they walk into a casino: This might include lights, bright colors or images of people gambling. While images are an important part of a site, avoid putting important information in an image, unless it has an alt tag. When a search engine looks at the site, it won’t be able to read any text within an image and therefore might not place the site as highly in rankings. To label the images, use alt tags to insert keywords that will only show up to the viewer when he or she hovers the cursor over the image.

 
Search Engine Optimization

Search engines like Google, Yahoo! and Bing determine what is relevant to the keywords and phrases by scanning every page on the web with programs called crawlers or spiders, and then compiling a list of the most relevant information.

Spiders categorize information based on several factors, but one of the most important and easiest-to-understand factors is by using keywords. As mentioned above, keywords and phrases help determine a page’s relevance to a user’s search. To find the best keywords for a casino’s website, think about what a viewer would search to find your site. Words like “casino,” “online casino,” “casino games,” “blackjack” or “gambling” might be common as these are organic search terms for someone looking for information on a casino. Tools like Google AdWords can help determine some keywords, or refer to a digital marketing solutions company like WSI for professional keyword assistance.

Be careful with keywords—there are “white hat” (ethical) and “black hat” (deceptive) ways to use them. White hat tactics will ensure increased visibility over time while black hat tactics may encourage a surge of viewers at first, then a decline of viewers and a possible ban from search engines. White hat keyword use includes a keyword density of about 3-5 percent throughout the text, focusing on titles and headers to show spiders the importance of those words.

Black hat keyword use includes placing hidden keywords on a site to mislead search engines or overstuffing content with keywords, which may be read as spam by spiders and cause the site to be removed.

Most spiders can only read simple text—or text that is not contained within an image, graphic or Flash. If images do contain pertinent information, be sure to label them with alt tags using keywords. Within the readable simple text, spiders consider some text more important than others. For instance, titles are more important than headers and headers are more important than paragraphs.

 
Social Media Marketing

Social media is a relatively new and constantly evolving component of digital marketing. With the potential to reach a huge number of people, build a brand, promote products and services, collect feedback from customers, increase web traffic and generate conversations, it’s no wonder social media is so popular.

First, find out which social media types will suit the company best. Casinos may benefit from a Facebook account, Twitter campaign and a blog. Facebook posts should be limited to one to two per day and provide information about upcoming events, or to share photos and articles. Because there are a limited number of posts each day, account managers should choose the content carefully. Twitter updates are restricted to 140 characters but updates, or tweets, can be more frequent than Facebook.

Tweets can also be categorized with hashtags, like #casino, so when users search for #casino, they can find that tweet and connect with the casino. With both Facebook and Twitter, be careful not to “dump” updates on followers and fans—space out posts with a social media scheduler like HootSuite or TweetDeck, or use a social media management company.

Don’t just promote yourself. Link to things that would interest the viewers like gambling tips, news about the industry and legendary stories. Check out competitors’ social media for inspiration, but never copy their content directly.

Monitor the sites and interact with fans. Social media is just that—social. When someone leaves a comment on Facebook, comment back or “like” their post. If a follower retweets a post on Twitter, thank them with a message or a retweet of their update.

Have a plan in place to manage bad feedback—if someone comments about a bad experience at the casino, offer a complimentary drink on their next visit or free parking passes.

Post on the blog weekly. Blogs are a great way to draw an audience and share insightful information in which casino-goers may be interested. Choose a name for the blog, keep writing consistently and encourage discussion through comments.

One of the main reasons blogs don’t see success is because the person managing that blog gives up too soon, getting frustrated by initial low numbers. While it’s easier to find followers on Facebook and Twitter, getting a blog following means updating content regularly—at least once a week—and promoting the posts within those established social media avenues. 

Mobile Sites and Apps

Smart phone users are growing in numbers, and so are the numbers of viewers to mobile sites. Often, the mobile site is the first connection a potential guest has with a site and the casino’s brand. If a casino’s site isn’t optimized for mobile, it can be difficult for users to navigate and find the information they are looking for.

Typically, mobile users are en route to the casino or making plans to visit, so directions to the casino, a map of the casino’s location and a clickable phone number are important items to feature on the mobile version. To ensure users recognize the casino branding, be sure to maintain the font, colors and tone from the website and integrate it into the mobile version.

Zero in on the information users need. When a site isn’t optimized for mobile, the page will appear just as it does online, but on a much smaller screen. Users have to scroll back and forth to find information and may have to click through several pages to find what they are looking for. Most people just won’t do this. Create a simple, streamlined design for the mobile version with buttons for a map, directions, phone number and one or two other important bits of information. Include a link at the bottom of the page to the main website for those who do need more detailed information.

Minimize loading time. Sites load much slower on mobile devices, so extra clicking may discourage users from pursuing their search. When a user clicks on something, it should open in the same window. Opening in a new window or tab will take much longer to load.

Simplify the site. Our fingers are much bigger than cursors on a computer, so the chances of clicking the wrong item are greater with a mobile site that isn’t optimized. Use large, clickable items for important information and leave white space around items to prevent clicking the wrong item.

Use pictures, not Flash. Using pictures as clickable items or as limited design choices can add to the user experience, but using Flash will take away over a quarter of potential viewers. iPhones cannot open Flash, so the site will be invisible for those users.

Create a mobile app. Making an application for Android and iOS offers smart phone users an easy-to-use button on the phone’s home screen to quickly access information about the casino.

Users can receive exclusive promotions, see the latest schedules and events, reserve a table or hotel room, utilize property maps to navigate around or find directions to the casino, view restaurant menus, connect directly through Facebook and Twitter, and more.

Mobile apps can be powerful tools for digital marketing, providing immediate access to all the gaming and racing action.

Peter DeCrescenzo is owner of WSI Online Solutions and a WSI franchisee who has worked with clients in the gaming and entertainment industry. WSI is the world’s leading provider of digital marketing solutions for small- and medium-sized businesses. He can be reached at 954-302-2616 or [email protected] For more information, visit www.wsi-onlinesolutions.com. ?