What sets esports betting apart from other forms of betting? Why is esports not simply another thing to bet on? The key lies in the various ways esports athletes and games engage with their audience in unprecedented ways. Esports fans can be as loyal as a Liverpool born and bred Red. The difference is that an esports fan is loyal to the sport more than a club. And ‘sport’ doesn’t even cover it, since esports is as much an online community as it is a sport. These characteristics ask for a new kind of invested operator. Approaching the rise of esports as if it’s just another thing to bet on can really hurt your business in the long term. Or more specifically; it can hurt the resilience of your customer database. Realising the importance of esports in the future market should lead to an introspection of your market focus, player database and marketing assets. Are you ready to cater a new generation of gamblers?
Paving the road for a different game
The shortcut to measuring your current distance to an esports audience is looking at the player database. And specifically to the average age of your playerbase. When you roll out an average age from the data of your database, there will be nothing coincidental about that figure, regardless of what the number is. The age should be a reflection of your product line, marketing efforts and history as an operator. It will also tell you a lot about the road ahead. Lowering the average age of your players means securing your right to exist in the future. There are several ways in meeting this goal. Esports is just one of them and by no means the easiest, but there is a lot to be gained in investing and integrating an entire new product. As it is not just another thing to bet on, but rather a new game with its own set of rules.
’You are not prepared’
Does your marketing team know where this sentence originates from? If not, they are not prepared. ‘You are not prepared’ comes from World of Warcraft and has taken its place in the online meme community ever since. Why is this important? Because to reach out to an audience, you have to understand their lingo as well as their preferred type and channels of communication. Addressing the esports generation without understanding the symbolic meaning of memes is doomed to failure. Transforming your player database thus begins by transforming communication. The esports community will not accept a conventional marketing approach on conventional platforms. Chances are they will not even see your content on these platforms and channels, as they shy away from them.
Where athletes get worshipped
To get a feel of their world, we can take a look at their heroes. Faker is an esports icon. A League of Legends player that has reached the status of a pop idol. Examining this young Korean player is getting a glimpse of a culture that is increasing in popularity every year. Even more than with regular sports, esports athletes are influencers. Due to the nature of the computer game, players share every minute of their lives with their fans. Games, streaming, social media, merchandise and memes are all a part of the vast world that is esports. It is due to this complex fiber that esports has not made it to the mainstream audience yet, but it is this same fiber that ensures that esports will be the definition of mainstream in the future. The corona crisis will prove to serve as a katalysator for this process.
Invest, Integrate & invigorate
Taking everything into account that’s stated above; what should operators do to engage with the esports audience? The correlation between marketing- and product(strategy) is key. This starts by getting a grip on the risk profile and setting esports specific KPI’s, which are inherently different from your usual key point indicators. When looking at content for example, in esports engagement is leading over reach in measuring success. The hypes on tournaments, streams and posts from athletes are rapidly relieving each other. A successful marketing strategy is thus based on anticipating the news rather than reacting to news. To avoid being simply not relevant.
This is easier said than done without extensive knowledge of the esports industry and audience. Finding the right channels, the right tone of voice and right angle can be frustrating, let alone measuring conversion from these channels. There is a whole different set of rules. Integrating esports into your brand is a matter of ‘unfolding’ your brand into marketing, product line, data and policy and weaving the esports fibre into each of those components. A total approach. Finding partners that speak the language of the esports generation can benefit your short term success and lay a solid foundation for engaging with the sports(betters) of the future.