The Marketing of Sports Betting
Just as the many white-collar moviegoers are fascinated by the stories of the mafia and gangsters, I’ve had a similar interest in how internet companies on the edge of legality market themselves.
One of the most competitive (and seemingly profitable) industries that fits into this category is sports betting.
I ended up spending a few hours this morning checking out the various sites, search results and landing pages they used and it was interesting to see some of the most aggressive online marketers at work.
Here is a short analysis and some observations of what I found:
Landing Pages + SEM
Much like poker and mortgage sites, users are frequently in a ready-to-buy mindset and these sites employ a razor-like focus on getting the user signed up and betting as quickly as possible.
Many of these sites rely heavily on search engine marketing that direct users to sales-focused landing pages. Accord to this Adwords article, this type of advertising is only legal in certain countries.
Here is a very common themes in almost all of the SEM landing pages I came across:
- 1-2-3 Almost all of the landing pages used “1-2-3″ to sell the idea that its super-easy to signup; for example: “1 – Register, 2 – Make a Deposit, 3 – Start Betting”
- Imagery: All used imagery specific to the sport that was searched for, for example “football odds” brought me to a page with a soccer player who looks like they just won a game (I used Google UK, Google Canada has no gambling ads)
- No Sign-up Forms: Unlike mortgage/education landing pages, very few sports betting sites included signup forms on their landing page
- Call-to-actions: Instead of forms they all had giant “Join Now” call-to-action buttons linking to the forms
- Familiar Logos: All used logos that users are familiar with: major credit card logos, verisign, company partners like “FIBA”
- Engaging offer: most had an engaging offer, for example, free bonus money to start with or rewards
The average cost per click in Adwords is around $2-3, which is pretty standard for competitive keywords. Some keywords such as “sports spread betting” can cost up to $10+ a click.
Organic search results linked to either 1) a landing page style homepage or 2) a section tailored to a specific sports.
These pages were frequently just large landing pages with the pure focus of getting the user to sign up. But some featured todays games and some articles.
Here were some commons themes among them:
- Dark designs, I was surprised by how many sites with black backgrounds I came across. It might be to mimic the appearance of the type of bar’s where you’d find sports bookies.
- On-page SEO: internal linking structures, titles, articles etc
- Imagery: a mix of happy sports players and sexy models
Affiliates + Content Sites
Sports betting seems to rely very heavily on affiliates to bring in traffic. The average payout among the top sites was around 25% of what the customer spends. Based on the number of spammy sites and affiliate landing pages I came across, I got the impression this is a hyper-competitive market.
One of the most common approaches by affiliates was to create content sites that followed this pattern:
- Create a series targeted articles filled with keywords
- Create a press release of the same content and get it index on sites like news.google.com and ezinearticles.com
- Surround the articles with Join-now buttons for sports betting sites
There are a few things startups in more conservative markets could learn from these hyper-sales focused sites.
Sports betting sites have the luxury of having visitors that are frequently ready to buy and each has the potential to bring in a lot of money. This means that quite a bit of marketing dollars can be spent on acquiring each customer.
But at the end of the day, I don’t want to give sports bookmakers too much credit given the addictive nature of gambling.- By Dan McGrady