Casino Marketing: Making it Happen in the Competitive World of Casino Advertising and Outreach
There is a saying that there is nothing worse for a casino than to be invisible.
Unfortunately, if you aren’t advertising online, this is an issue that you are going to run into sooner or later.
If you are reading this, chances are that you are trying to learn more about what “casino marketing” is.
The short answer is that it is a lot of things.
The long answer is that casino marketing has a long history that is now coming into the digital age. Newspaper ads and fliers are giving way to blogs and social media. Email and Google are changing how casino owners reach out to customers. The local is becoming national.
Here, we are going to talk about what it means to market a casino in the digital age. For starters, it isn’t about just having a website anymore. It is about understanding how a brand can be marketed across all sorts of channels, including social media.
More importantly, it is about making sure that you know what digital channel will get your casino in front of the right people so that when they are in town, the hit your establishment.
Let’s talk more about digital casino marketing ideas, and how to market your business to a national audience.
Traditional Casino Marketing Strategy vs. An Online Casino Marketing Plan
Casino marketing strategies have been around for hundreds of years. Even old-time card playing houses would often use cheap labor to offer fliers or word-of-mouth advertising that drew customers into their establishments to try their hand at card games or roulette.
In modern times, casinos have relied on local foot traffic to drive their marketing strategies. This makes sense, considering that all their business required people to sit down and play games of chance to earn revenue. Following that, traditional casino marketing strategies relied on an incredibly personal approach to casino marketing:
- Local newspaper advertisements.
- Hotel brochures and advertisements.
- Direct mail marketing
- Local fliers and street-level engagement.
- A website.
This last portion of many casino marketing strategies was an afterthought meant to capitalize on traveler’s heading into town to gamble or find other forms of entertainment. A quick search meant that their website would show up (hopefully) and catch some of the out-of-town crowd.
While casinos are continually evolving, so too are their marketing methods. SEO, PPC, and social marketing are becoming cornerstones of developing dedicated customer bases, and more casinos are jumping into the realm of digital marketing by putting their own spin on what it means for a casino to market themselves in a digital space.
Before we jump into online casino marketing, however, let’s cover some of the basics.
Online Marketing: The Basics of Paid Search
Paid search, in its simplest form, is about paying a platform to provide ads for your product, services, or establishment.
The most prominent and competitive of these platforms, Google, has perhaps the most recognizable paid advertising around. When you perform a Google search and see the 2-3 search results at the top–the ones that have “Ad” next to them–you can see that those businesses paid to have their website show up on top.
Google isn’t the only platform that provides paid advertising, however, as most search engines and social media sites have some form of advertising included. Microsoft Bing has an advertising program like Google. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn… all these social media platforms also include forms of paid advertising that help your ads show up in front of customers.
What’s more, these paid advertising solutions do give you some control over who sees your ads. Most ad placements are tied to keyword searches so that you can target your audience based on what they search for.
Online Marketing: The Basics of SEO
Search Engine Optimization (SEO), also known as organic search advertising or “search engine marketing”, involves developing content for the web that search engines will rank highly without requiring a paid advertising account.
Google algorithms rank websites based on their perceived usefulness and relevance to an individual’s search. Unlike paid advertising, where you may have to bid for a spot or pay a flat fee, SEO advertising is more about crafting content that will get in front of your customer base. This means developing content that people find useful and share, building links to and from your site, and publishing helpful information on a regular basis.
When a casino marketing specialist suggests an SEO strategy, what they are suggesting is:
- Social Media Posts
- Link Building
- Website Development
Unlike PPC, which can pay off immediately, SEO is a long game. It involves months of creating content and getting the word out. However, once you automate the process, it can be your primary source of passive referrals and business.
Online Marketing: Online Casino Affiliate Marketing
Another approach to developing an online presence is to use affiliate marketing. Casino affiliate marketing involves paying content producers like bloggers and other website writers to link to your website or social media account to drive traffic.
This is a risky proposition for physical casinos, however. Since your primary goal is to develop a customer base that comes into your casino to the game, eat, and drink, it could be counterproductive to develop an online lead funnel that doesn’t do just that. This could be a great approach for online casinos, however.
Building a Casino Marketing Strategy
Let’s step away from the logistics of a casino marketing strategy to talk about your ask.
What are you asking from a customer?
Well, you want them to come in, play games, lose a little bit of money, and have fun while they do it. That’s the sell… people playing games and losing and having the time of their life. Some gamblers win big, but most don’t. All the while, those gamblers, and gamers need to eat, drink, and potentially sleep.
So even as you begin to think about building a digital casino strategy, you should be thinking about what you offer:
- Remember that in all advertising and content, show the customer that they are going to have fun. Whether it’s spending the night playing high-stakes poker, plopping nickels in a slot machine, or hanging out at the bar between venturing to the tables, customers need to understand that the casino is there to entertain.
- As part of all that fun, sell the nightlife. Lights, glitz, sex, the whole deal. The phrase “what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas” should apply to any casino advertising campaign, no matter the location.
- Point out the great events and entertainment that your casino might bring. Shows, music, whatever it is that you offer, you should highlight that, and (if relevant) keep customers up to date on what is coming to your casino. Even if it is just a big buffet–make sure that your potential customers know about it.
All your advertising and marketing should approach customers with these things in mind.
Building Your Casino Digital Marketing Strategy: Model from the Competition…
The great thing is that even though you may have competition, you can also learn from those who have tried, succeeded, and failed in the digital space.
- MGM Grand Casino Marketing strategies include Google Paid advertising and extended social media. Across all those channels, they focus on professionalism and accommodation. Customers know that when they go to the MGM Grand, they are going to be taken care of.
- Aria Casino Marketing Strategy includes a focus on elegance and beauty. One of the first photos on Facebook is a beautiful woman in front of gorgeous flowers and alongside that a decadent plate of food.
- The New York New York Casino Marketing strategy on Instagram tries to catch the feel of New York City mixed into a Vegas casino setting. Images of beers and baseball shirts alongside pools, palm trees, and a mock Statue of Liberty show off how unique the experience is.
…But Make Your Own Mark
So, when you see other casinos advertising, pay attention to the channels they use, and the strategies they employ. But always make sure to filter that through your own establishment’s unique offer and sensibility.
We’re not going to lie… you’re not the only game in town. In fact, the casino market in the U.S. is relatively saturated in locations where gaming is legal. Even in the Northeast, increasing production of large mega casino and hotel locations has put a strain on the market that can make it difficult to set yourself apart.
So how do you set yourself and your casino apart?
- Offer an experience that no one in your area offers. Whether that is a specialty cuisine, party atmosphere, musical acts, or any combination of offerings, position your casino as a destination for the area you are located in.
- Offer great deals on food, gaming, and lodging…
- … but don’t be cheap! One of the worst mistakes you can make as a business owner is positioning your casino as low rent.
- Make your image unique and memorable. As mentioned above, New York New York is trying to break the Vega mold without necessarily busting it wide open, and it offers the look and feel like nothing else in the area.
What do you offer that sets you apart? Make sure that there is a coherent focus on that offer and look at all your advertising channels.
Is it Worth Hiring Casino Marketing Specialists?
Casino digital marketing is a tough market to crack. Luckily, there are several firms that offer marketing advice and consulting services geared specifically towards casinos.
When considering a casino marketing firm, think about the following aspects of a professional marketing outfit:
- Are they focused on the casino and gaming industry specifically? A general marketing firm can enact basic marketing strategies for your business but won’t understand the industry as well. A national casino marketing company will understand that market.
- Are they active in the industry? It might be harder to tell if they are or aren’t well-versed in the industry, but if they are active at casino and casino marketing conferences or other trade shows and such, then that’s a good sign they know the market.
- Where are they located? While not a deal-breaker, consider casino marketing companies located in areas with casinos. Las Vegas, St. Louis, and the New England portion of the I-95 corridor are all good indicators.
- Do they have marketing chops? Just because they focus on casino markets doesn’t mean they do it well. Casino marketing specialists will understand SEO, market personas, population segments, paid advertising, and more digital tools on top of traditional casino marketing tactics.
DIY Casino Marketing
If you handle marketing for your casino, then you might try your hand yourself. Some things to consider:
- Paid advertising is quick, organic search is slow. If you want to write a ton of blogs, maintain an active social media account, and create digital outreach with your customers, then do it. But understand that those methods will pay off over the long term. If you need immediate returns, consider PPC campaigns.
- Understand your audience. Think about who you want to come into your casino, and then market to those people where they are at. Some platforms are relatively universal… Google comes to mind. But attracting a young, hip crowd is much easier on Instagram than Facebook.
- Don’t neglect local advertising. Traditional methods (fliers, local ads) are critical to the success of a physical casino location because they get people who are nearby to come in. Digital marketing should promote a national casino marketing strategy with a heavy localization. For example, if someone searches for “casinos in <location>” where “location” is your city, you want to come up there.
- Develop content that converts. Yes, you want people to come in. But you also want return business, which means collecting emails, getting follows on social media, and creating a database of addresses for mailers.
Casino Marketing Conferences
If you are interested in developing your own marketing campaign, then we suggest hitting up some of the local casino marketing and technology conferences. These conferences help professionals in all areas of gaming and entertainment to learn about cutting edge advertising methods and tools to implement in their strategies.
- The Casino Marketing and Technology Conference in Las Vegas is the premier conference for professionals in the entertainment industry. Held in Las Vegas at Caesars Palace, this conference will help you not only understand the industry better, but network with the top members of the field.
- The East Coast Gaming Congress, held at Harrah’s in Atlantic City, gives you a great leg up on policies and decisions in the industry that can impact marketing and development.
- The Raving Loyalty and Player Development Conference, at Caesar’s Palace, focuses on player development and driving revenue at casinos around the country.
Casino Marketing is a conundrum and an opportunity. It draws from cutting-edge digital marketing while bringing the sentiments of casino markets and marketing to the table. It tries to look to the future while learning from traditional advertising methods. It attempts to develop national exposure for businesses that thrive on a local, physical customer.
In all these approaches, casino marketing must focus on a single aspect of the business–getting people in to play. It doesn’t matter where they are from, they must come in a play. This means that they must come in and have fun.
So, sell them fun. Sell them an opportunity and an experience they can’t have anywhere else.
As you do so, focus on developing a digital casino marketing strategy that emphasizes that aspect of your brand. Fun, food, excess, release, escape… all of these are critical parts of the experience. Killer casino marketing specialists will understand this, and they will develop a marketing strategy that gets your product in front of people and makes them want to come in.
So, when considering a casino marketing strategy, think about what your best foot is, and put it forward.