Tag Archives for " Marketing "

Absolute Casino – Social Media and Gaming

Absolute Gaming - Social Media and Casino

I've been in the eGaming industry on a number of levels and in a number of capacities for 7.5 years now, a lifetime in that sector. Over the past couple of years specifically it has become increasingly clear that the industry is completely stagnant from a product perspective. I were to specifically look at the following major channels: Sports, Casino, and Poker you can see some innovation there.

Sports: the introduction of live betting and interacting with customers through social media (not spamming them) has grown the industry somewhat. Personally I enjoy "In Game" Betting.

Poker: arguably this is the most social and progressive of the channels. Since poker is community based there a a number of interesting innovations that have taken place but as for pur "innovation" it's still Texas Holdem without a ton of innovative build outs to that strategy and product development.

Casino: this is the stagnant sector. The traditional "money sucking machine" of the industry the competitive landscape is filled with less than reputable (trust me) offshore operators who hold their concepts of slow payouts, shady tactics and questionable marketing very near and dear to their hearts.

There are a number of reasons that this sector has not innovated from lack of regulations (promoting owners with criminal histories to maintain a fairly decent operation) to software providers who do not innovate their products or services which will always impact the marketing (if you haven't got anything but another Casino Bonus to promote then what are you *really* selling?)

Well I ran into Absolute Casino today and was very impressed. The actual site on registration is clearly in a testing phase but the concept is fantastic (it's actually exciting - which is new for me especially in the past couple of years). A social network aware multiplayer casino with Facebook integration.

This is brilliance and something I personally have pitched to previous consulting clients. The problem they have is paralysis, everything is so comfortable for them at the moment that innovation has gone out the window. There is also a level of arrogance, simply put - many operators are completely unwilling to invest the money and the resources into innovative products.

But if you look at Facebook, have a peek at the Poker, Casino and Gaming apps. There are hundreds of thousands of people playing on a regular basis. Mainly because Facebook makes it social, I'm not downloading some software client and clicking on a video slot machine. The interaction is the thing that makes this extremely unique.

I look forward to checking out the final product in a month or two. It should be very cool and could potential be a disruptive force in the world of eGaming. I hope so. The industry simply is no longer interesting and it is clearly being left behind, with it's head stuck in the sand.

But it's nice to know I am not alone in this point of view. Hussein Chahine who is the founder of Advanced Gaming Labs (and Absolute Casino) has it dead to rights:

“I have been a technology provider to the gaming and betting industry for the past five years and it became clear to me that the industry has stopped innovating. The technology suppliers are too removed from the consumer, while the operators are falling short of understanding and building a business that embraces today’s social-networked internet world. This has presented a unique opportunity for us to enter the market as a new gaming company, where millions of concurrent players are empowered to connect [and] compete.”

This should be of particular interest to any affiliates out there who are making money from the traditional model. The days for these sites are numbered unless there is innovation, have a look at the next generation of gaming providers and set yourself up for shifts in the industry. Being left behind is the worst danger.

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Internet Marketing Minute – XML Sitemaps

The Internet Marketing Minute

The Internet Marketing Minute

In today's episode of the Marketing (almost) Minute I'm looking at the importance of a correctly formatted and updated XML sitemap. Often times this is poorly implemented on a site.

There are a number of "optional" tags meaning you can get away without implementing them but I strongly recommend you make sure you are implementing a full URLSet.

Keep in mind that if you are running a dynamically generated site, this becomes even more important. In order to keep up with the changes on your site you're going to want to get the Google Sitemap Generator and install it on your server. More details in the podcast. Click the image below to Play the podcast.

Note: This is a pretty "grass roots" podcast 🙂 In time it will become more refined but for the time being keep in mind my main motivation for doing this is to give out some good tips that you might not find everywhere else in the universe. I'm refining the links I place in the podcast itself as clicking them will take you away from the site. For now these are the links in the podcast:

Sitemaps XML Format

Third Party Sitemap Generators

Google Server Side Sitemap Generator

Here's the example for the suggested format:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>

<urlset xmlns="http://www.sitemaps.org/schemas/sitemap/0.9">

   <url>

      <loc>http://www.example.com/</loc>

      <lastmod>2005-01-01</lastmod>

      <changefreq>monthly</changefreq>

      <priority>0.8</priority>

   </url>

</urlset>

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32Red Active Players Up Revenues Down

More interesting financials from online casino operator 32Red. Looks like they had an increase in active players, which is always good (customer service and retention likely get credit for that) but a revenue drop of 11%. Here's a brief synopsis of the interim results:

  1. Overall revenues -11.2% to £5.8m, from £6.4m at the same point in 2008.
  2. Active Casino Players +23% 14,490 over the same period in 2008.
  3. New Casino Players +19% to 9733 over the same period in 2008.
  4. 32Red now accepts Paypal transactions (one of the few to do so).
  5. Invested £400,000 into backoffice and infrastructure.

Some interesting quotes from 32Red:

32Red attributed the fall to “the challenging economic environment faced by the UK and the rest of Europe during the first half of the year”

"Despite the global recession, 32Red has managed to grow its new casino players by a record 9,733, driven in part by our new television advertising campaign that has helped deliver a lower cost of customer acquisition. 32Red is well positioned to take advantage of any improvement in market conditions.’’- Ed Ware 23Red CEO

Looks like the recession, economic climate and consumer's fear of spending on credit continue to affect the bottom line of gaming operators. But kudos to 32Red, they have the exact right idea. Investing into marketing now is the route to go - they've acquired new customers through investment in marketing. Obviously a revenue slip is not what you *really* want but then again during a global recession online gaming will be hit very hard. Particularly if the operator is seeking "retail" or casual players as opposed to heavy gamblers.

They'll be well positioned to retain those clients and activate them when spending trends begin to rise. Smart business in tough times.

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50 Twitter Tips for Conversion

So here it is: Twitter.  It’s everywhere being hyped as the next great thing, but what can it do for your business?

Like any emerging technology the uses are somewhat open ended and there are still many questions.
A few things are absolutely certain:

  1. Twitter offers you an opportunity to engage a large number of people who are comfortable online. Which means they will either purchase online or talk a lot online.
  2. Twitter is growing dramatically. How long that growth will last is up for debate but the reality is that it is here now and barriers to entry are very low. It’s free and only requires and strategy which is embracing.
  3. Twitter can benefit your company through customer service, product promotion, marketing and PR just to name a few.

I’ve put this guide together to get you started on your Twitter campaign and strategy. It is our hope that you find this guide useful. Please forward this to your friends, colleagues and relatives!

Also I'm looking forward to your comments, additions, thoughts, and general input on any of this.

50 TWITTER TIPS FOR CONVERSION

  1. Engage your followers. Simply throwing promotional offers at people will only add to the white noise on Twitter and you will not stand out. Send @ replies, help out, discuss and be real.
  2. Reference your site frequently. You don't even need to always reference your newest content, reference your most useful content. With the stream of messages on Twitter. There is nothing wrong with referencing.
  3. Create a custom Twitter landing page and direct users there. Use the KISS approach, one offer specifically for Twitter users, you'll notice a huge difference.
  4. Do not be afraid to unfollow people who are adding to your white noise. Like any list you want to target your audience, some affiliate marketers out there will only Tweet offers and junk. Lose them.
  5. ReTweet valuable tweets from your followers. This is a huge thing and extremely complementary. I find on my lists that there are about 5% if the users that I ReTweet multiple times. Is that a new rule 95/5? 95% of your ReTweets come from 5% of your users.
  6. Ask your users questions. There are two ways to do it. Informally by simply throwing it out there and asking for a response. Formally by using TwtPoll, which will track responses. Either way ask engaging questions of your users, something that will incite debate and opinion.
  7. Exclusive offers. When I say exclusive I mean exclusive, don't just regurgitate another offer, make it exclusive and time limited to Twitter users otherwise you risk being in the "white noise" category.
  8. Incentives for followers. We effectively use $50 Cash Cards for the nth Twitter follower for doing nothing more than simply following. We do it every thousand followers but pick your metric and follow-up on it.
  9. Monitor Twitter Search. You would be amazed at how many active discussions you can miss if you don't watch the buzz. Get in there!
  10. Join Twitter Business Directories. Two good examples are WeFollow.com and Twellow.com, add yourself to relevant categories and search out potential leads on a regular basis.
  11. Engage a key individual in the Twitter dialog. A good strategy is joining your CEO's profile to your corporate profile. Not only will you gain a wider following, you'll have the ability to channel directly to your "go to guy (or girl)".
  12. Follow PR and News Sources. You'll create a direct dialog to the people who can get your message out there.
  13. Engage Anger. If you're a business there is likely someone ready get annoyed with you. Don't shy away from them, embrace and communicate them, you may have your next great advocate out there screaming good things about you.
  14. Live Updates from Events or Conferences. This will create buzz and excitement from your user base. No one cares if "it's a hot day here in Glendale Arizona" but they might care about "The boss just gave a great tip on our newest product release".
  15. Follow people. Alot. I can't stress this enough. Some people think it is a badge of honor to have significantly more people following you than you follow. Not true. What you are really saying is I want a one way conversation, not very social at all.
  16. Figure out "Social Engagement". How do you engage social media? You be social and engage. Why many people don't understand this I will never know.
  17. Twitter about your competition. Why not? Even link to them, if you are confident in your product then you have an opportunity to show the world you have the superior product.
  18. Complement your competition. When your competitors do something right then do not shy away from it. Give them a shout out. It shows strength and confidence.
  19. Send useful links which may not be directly related to your business. It could be a news event or something you found useful. People appreciate tips and advice.
  20. Create a custom background for your Twitter page with your contact information. You would be amazed at how many people will reach out to you directly. Check out the Honeypot Marketing Twitter page, nothing fancy but it works.
  21. Add your Twitter profile to your email signature. Sounds basic enough but emails get passed around quite a bit.
  22. Add TwitterCounter and Twitter badges to your site. Not rocket science but highly effective. Internet marketing is a two way street, go both ways.
  23. Engage in polarizing discussion. Is @oprah adding nothing of value? Tell her, it will polarize but it will get you engaged.
  24. Auto Follow people who follow you. I use Tweetlater.com to automate this process but it is (to me) a common courtesy and I just think it works well, saves a ton of time too. You can purge lists once a month or so to keep your list up to date.
  25. Provide customer support. Whatever you do or sell, people will have a problem. Utilizing Twitter as a rapid response tool is incredibly effective and generally people only need a minor tip to get on track.
  26. Create a daily digest of your tweets for your blog. This not only incites the search engines into ranking you quickly (more customers!) but it provides a history and a sense that your company has fully engaged the community. That's a good thing right?
  27. Twitter your knowledge. No matter who you are and what you know, your background and experience will help those and could position you as a thought leader. Cheesy term but true. You'll become an expert and people will respect that and as such respect your company.
  28. Stay on Target. You want to communicate with people and lead them to and end goal. Never lose sight of that. Sketch out your conversion path (whatever it might be) and make sure you are achieving that goal. You will be surprised at how quickly results will happen.
  29. Don't necessarily try to sell "stuff". Selling "things" may or may not work for you on Twitter. Be realistic about your end goal, branding, customer service, lead generation. Generally using Twitter as a conduit makes it a great lead generator, not a closer.
  30. Talk about how your product helped a customer. If they are on Twitter ask them to participate in the dialog and back you up. Bringing it full circle will provide you incredible benefits.
  31. Create a Twitter Interview. I refuse to engage in the mangling of the English language for the purposes of branding Twitter. Some people call them Twinterviews - horrible. Set up a series of 10-15 questions and ask the your interviewee to @ reply them. You can even ask your followers to DM you specific open questions. Works like a charm.
  32. Ask people to ReTweet but not everyday. Asking people to ReTweet directly on occasion will indicate that this is an important message. With a good following you'll get help.
  33. Don't be afraid to go offline. Sometimes you can't engage completely on Twitter so take it to phone, email or face to face (if possible). Only so much can be communicated in 140 characters.
  34. Ask your followers what they think of your offers. It's a form of Direct Market Research. Example: "Would you rather get 20% off or a free movie pass for two? Let us know!".
  35. Use TwitPic. Post pictures of your events, office, people in your office. Be human! No likes a marketing driod Twitter profile. You can *really* connect with people by being just like everyone else.
  36. Tweet company events. Did Joy in Accounting just have her first child? Tell everyone about it and how happy you all are for her. Unless of course your company is a sweatshop, which I highly doubt it is.
  37. Tweet the success of your customers. If you are B2B Congratulate your clients on a successful promo or campaign. Spread the love.
  38. Don't insult people. Unless this your personal account and you'll do whatever you want then fine. But never insult a client or competitor, you'll look bad for ages and you can damage your own future reputation. Trust me there can be an idiot factor on Twitter and it can be difficult sometimes. I know I've lashed out a few times on my personal account. Oopsie.
  39. Conduct Website Testing. If you have a new promo or landing page ask your users which they like better. You are after all trying to appeal to them are you not?
  40. Define your objectives. I have alluded to it earlier but make sure everyone in your company understands what you are trying to do. Maybe directly selling your product won't be successful but selling your service will be.
  41. Test, test, test. Twitter is an emerging technology; to be honest no one quite knows what to do with it just yet. That makes testing your message and conversion flow critical.
  42. Don't be afraid to change course. Things change and you should change with them, if you found a sweet spot for communication or sales try to move in that direction without being scared to do so.
  43. Automate your blog and Twitter accounts in both directions. We love WordPress so it's a no brainer for us. Every post gets an automatic tweet which will drive your customers to you. Simple.
  44. Integrate Twitter into your online strategy. We are huge proponents of integrated marketing. That includes Traditional and Emerging Marketing with the same message. Tip: when going online don't change the message just go a bit more grass roots style.
  45. Tell people who exactly is Tweeting. You may have a corporate profile like http://twitter.com/honeypot_mkting but start out by saying "Morning All, @dannomatic is here this morning". People like to know who you are and will be far more willing to engage you.
  46. Create a corporate Twitter Meetup. Admittedly this is a bit nerdy but it doesn't have to be. Have an open house meeting to invite your Twitter followers to the office, then Tweet about it. Buzz is amazing.
  47. Create time limited promotions and update it on Twitter. Real and effective time limited promotions could include giving out a free whitepaper or case study for a limited time. Link via DM to a PDF but only keep access open for a few hours. When it's over redirect the link to a thank you and registration for email download. Then you'll capture the traffic, which is bound to happen after time has expired.
  48. Create a Twitter only contest. Be creative but run it exclusively on Twitter and give away your product as prizing. It doesn't need to be fancy, just fun.
  49. Create a tone of helpful information. Example: "Did you know that the Magic Bullet can slice and dice? Check out the top features here..." and link to a blog post or information sheet - product knowledge is important and leads to the conversion or sale.
  50. Deep link people into your website and blog. You've likely invested heavily in that glitzy shiny website. Point out useful company information, employee profiles, product information, review, and news. It surprises us to see Twitter being used to link to one page on a website. Deep linking encourages people to dig deep into your site, increasing the opportunity for the conversion.
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Ashton Kutcher – Twitter Desperation?

Share photos on twitter with Twitpic

Social Media Marketing and Twitter in particular is a great way for stars like Ashton Kutcher to generate buzz. In fact it's great for anyone and any business (when done properly). Now I'm as open minded to all sorts of Internet Marketing techniques but this one strikes me as a bit desperate.

Ashton is basically buying paid advertising on another social network in order to increase his followers on a competing social network. Come on Ashton. As they would say on Twitter: srsly?

UPDATE:

Clearly  Ashton Kutcher using Twitter is not a negative thing. In fact I fully believe in the power of Social Network Marketing and provide channels for self promotion. However, As a business driven marketer and branding expert I'm still not 100% certain if Ashton Kutcher's campaign on Twitter produced any definable results other than the fact that he got some dedicated airplay on CNN. For a hollywood actor like Kutcher, this is definitely a plus, getting airplay like that will do nothing but promote his own brand, his movies and his career (and positively affecting his bottom line).

I wonder what type of metrics were taken into account except for the number of followers? Was any tracking done on Click Through Rates? How did it affect his Online Reputation? More likely than not, it was purely a branding play. I still think the Ad reduces the legitimacy of his entire Twitter campaign.

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Blocking Spam with WordPress

After my last article on Cleaning your Site after a WordPress Injection Attack I figure that it's time to take the old "an ounce of prevention us better than a pound of a cute" (or something like that). So here is a nice easy way to enhance your Akismet spam protection and quickly and easily blacklist an offending IP.

Personally I get really sick of blog spammers, especially since my blog is DoFollow. It doesn't stand for the same thing as DoSpam. Very annoying time consuming and potentially harmful - alot of these same idiots who blog spam would also be the same people who will try to inject your WordPress theme and plugins with Click Counter code.

Anyhow in this post I'm going to use the following plugins:

  1. Akismet (setup properly but that goes without saying.)
  2. WP-EasyBan
  3. WP Security Scan
  4. Secure WordPress
  5. Redirection Plugin

The first thing you need to do is install all of the above plugins and ensure each of them work. As a side note: I had trouble with WP-EasyBan on WordPress 2.7.1 but I corrected it. To be honest I am not 100% sure if it was a conflicting plugin issue or a core problem with WP-EasyBan. If you have a problem, contact me or comment here and I will share my fix (I wasn't able to see "Add Ban" in the user menu but a few changes to the plugin fixed it without any issue).

Ok moving right along.

Let's say you are getting a substantial amount of Spam in your Spam Bin in Akismet. You will easily be able to tell if it comes from one particular IP address. First go to your Spam Box and identify the IP address - see below:

One: Identfy the IP Address

Next step: Check your Security logs under "Tools -> Security Logs" - now if the person is simply annoying you can skip that step but the Security logs will identify if the user is on a blacklist:

Is the IP already on your Blacklist?

Check your Security Log and Blacklist

Once you've done that it's time to "Add Ban" provided by WP-EasyBan. It's got a great interface for you to add various options. We want to add a specific IP address (adding a block if IP's could cause you to block legit visitors to your site.

Adding an entry to your Blacklist

Adding a Banned IP through WP-EasyBan

Also as an ounce of prevention you can set a time limit and maybe you'll discourage the blog spammers after a period of time. The reason I like this method is that Spammers never give up unless they are certain that their stuff is not getting through. Blacklisting will let you send a message that there is no getting through to you.

As a last note: I like to add a personalized message to these idiots. Sometime I venture into more colourful language depending on how badly one IP is offending my site and messing with my hard work.

Then you can set another site to redirect them to as well. Get creative here you can have fun with this, there is also a sense of satisfaction to mess around with these people.

Anyone else have any tips? Let me know!

Cheers,

Dan Nedelko

Dan Nedelko

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