Affiliate reviews, Copywriting, Psychology, SEO

SEO Articles: Google Glutton v Starved Visitor – Balancing Your Plate for Better Results

Making sure this…
…doesn’t mean this for your visitor!

SEO articles are an important part of the marketing strategy for any online gambling business. Why? Because they bring traffic to the site, either directly or indirectly.

But SEO articles have always been a bit of an irritant for me, especially in the early days of search engine optimisation, where keyword stuffing was the name of the game.

Google is not king!

Surprisingly, this ‘pleasing the search engines’ approach is still very common, but it’s not that aspect of it that annoys me the most. It’s the fact that online gambling businesses are still forgetting one incredibly crucial issue…

You’re still writing for real people.

Yes, a 2,000 word article with all your carefully selected, top performing keywords and suitable contextual links may well get you a place on page 1 of Google’s SERPs…

But what will visitors to that page do?

If you’re not ALSO writing to convert visitors into new members with copy that elicits an emotional response, all that effort you’ve put into constructing that Google-grovelling, keyword rich article will have been wasted.

Now that’s not to detract from the job of SEO article writers. It is damn hard to find a natural way to add the keyword phrase ‘play live casino games India’ into a sentence and not have it sound like some text bot with verbal diarrhoea.

And with many of these articles demanding the appearance of a multitude of keyword phrases that may vary by just one word, they can end up sounding very repetitive and boring – something that’s more likely to put you to sleep than gear you up for slot spinning!

SEO articles are super important, whether they appear as part of a gambling company’s blog or a third party affiliate site’s regular content, but it’s important to bear in mind that there are two goals these pieces of work must meet:

  1. Satisfy the search engines: Yes, you need to include all those top keywords, contextual links, headers, sub headers, short paragraphs, min. word count, etc. to stand a chance of SERP 1 appearance, and that’s no mean feat in itself
  2. Inspire your visitors: This is just as crucial, if not more so, as pleasing the search engines. All that traffic might as well be running you over if it’s not converting to meaningful clicks and/or membership!

So how do you go about meeting both goals?

You write for people first and optimise for the search engines second.

I have seen far too many 3rd party affiliate casino sites with pages that rank well in Google, but are stuffed with endless banner ads from dozens of online casinos before you even get to the text, then the text itself is just an exercise in nonsensical keyword stuffing.

As a copywriter, I find this stuff incredibly painful to read!

Please don’t subject your visitors to that. They’re people too!

Someone searching with the keyword phrase ‘Texas Hold’em optimal flop strategy’ is not looking for 10,000 banner ads with various poker site sign-up bonuses, they’re looking for, funnily enough, good strategies for the flop in Texas Hold’em poker – so give it to them!

And you know what the best bit is? If you take this ‘people first, search engines second’ approach and give the people what they’re looking for, if they like your content, they will click on your banner ads because they will have found what they were searching for and will be ready to put those strategies to the test by signing up with a poker site!

But only if you haven’t pissed them off first by practically plastering those banners all over their face!

People buy for emotional reasons, not because you forced them into a corner. In the example above, a well written page that addresses the visitor’s keyword phrase FIRST will satisfy that visitor and inspire them with their newly acquired flop strategy knowledge to SECOND click on a banner to join a poker site.

There’s no action without inspiration.

So next time you’re thinking about constructing an SEO article for your gambling company or affiliate website, get an experienced copywriter on the job, one who can combine SEO techniques with word crafting that inspires emotionally driven actions.

In other words, stop feeding the Google monster quite so much and spare a thought for your visitors. 😉

Copywriting, Emails, Language, Psychology

5 ways to increase email open rates

Useless unless opened!

It’s very important to spend plenty of time making sure your email copy is as clear, targeted and emotionally triggering as possible before you let it loose on your list, but there is one element of every email that is by far much more important than any other…

The subject line.

If the subject line of your email is not effective enough, all that time and effort spent on the contents of the email is a complete and utter waste.

So what’s the purpose of a subject line and how can we get it to work as well as possible?

Ok, first of all, contrary to popular belief, a subject line is not there to tell readers what the email’s about.

I know this might seem counter-intuitive but let’s think for a second what our overall goal is by emailing our members in the first place: to sell of course.

And in order to sell to our list of members, we need to let them know how great whatever it is we’re selling actually is – that’s where your email comes in. The contents of your email are sales-driven (or at least should be!).

The subject line is the mechanism via which you get the reader to go from skimming his inbox to actually opening your email and learning all about your fab product or service and how it’s so great for him.

In short, your subject line is there to get your email opened.

So how do we do this?

There are a number of ways of increasing email open rates. Here are just 5…

1. Start with the member’s first name – eg. ‘John, this tourney’s for you…’

Why does this work? Well, think about it. Your own name does have a tendency to catch your eye!

This personalisation lets the reader know that you know him, so it’s less likely to be spam and more likely to result in the email being opened.

2. Trigger curiosity – eg. ‘John, have you seen this?’

The vague and teasing nature of a subject line like this triggers an emotional response that can be exceedingly difficult to overcome – curiosity.

If you can work some magic here, your open rates will soar!

3. Boost their ego – eg. ‘John, winners like you will love this…’

Nothing invites a little attention more than an ego massage.

And everyone loves to be complimented, making this approach effective, but ONLY if it’s done right.

4. Add a sense of urgency – eg. ‘John, you’ve got 2 hours left to register…’

No-one wants to miss out on something that might be important, and the ‘time running out’ approach can work rather well when used appropriately.

5. Use symbols – eg. ‘ John, you’re now registered for the tourney!’

(The  is meant to be a club card suit symbol, but it does illustrate an issue you may want to take into acccount, and that’s whether or not the symbol will show in most inboxes!)

Yep, 2012’s big subject line trend saw an increased use of symbols.

They aren’t too common yet (so try them before they’re everywhere and people get desensitised!) and as such are great eye-catchers.

Get these right and keep them appropriate for maximum eye-catching impact!

Remember, subject lines play a crucial role in determining the effectiveness of your email campaign.

Fail at the first hurdle of the subject line and you WILL fall flat on your face.

Dedicate some time to testing what works with your list to make sure your emails at least get opened!

Branding, Copywriting, Psychology

Changing the face of… your face!

What does your brand’s face say?

People do not trust ‘brands’.

Not initially anyway.

And plastering your gaming company’s name right in peoples’ faces with a ‘makes you sick’ politeness and ‘totally not human’ style is just gonna push them away.

I’m talking about all your communications, whether that be promotional emails, web pages, landing pages, pop ups, text messages, letters in the mail, FB posts, Google adwords ads, whatever.

In this industry, you don’t win new members by putting a polite face on it.

In a morbidly depressing economy, with bad news on almost every channel, budget cuts, miserable weather and everyone just in a damn mood because of it all, people NEED somewhere to escape to, where everything ISN’T so miserable and depressing, where they can kick back and chill for at least a little while.

Do you think that the formal, robotic, emotionless tone of your communications implies that your gaming company is where they should go to chill?

Unsurprisingly, many, many online gaming companies just don’t think about how important their communications – and HOW they’re done – actually are.

Let’s face it. Take a handful (or several!) of online gaming companies out there and do a quick comparison of their offerings. There’s really not much in it these days.

So what makes the difference then?

It’s this: it’s all in how you make potential new members FEEL!

There is a ton of psychology behind this and how using certain words can invoke certain responses, etc. etc. It’s fascinating really! Well, it is to me anyway… :s

The point is, if you want potential new members, or even your current ones, to turn firstly to you as their numero uno chillax zone, you’ve gotta make sure you’re talking in their terms.

Let me simplify it even more. Not that I think you’re stupid, I just wanna make this absolutely clear…

If you walk about with your face like a smacked bottom, no-one’s gonna want to talk to you, are they?

But if you put a smile on your face, everyone will feel that great vibe and want to spend more time around it!

Give your members a reason to stick around at your online casino, poker room, bingo site or sports book. Make them feel welcome, relaxed, wanted, comfy, whatever, and make sure it’s reflected in every piece of member communication you send out.

Change your communications, change your face! :)

Copywriting, Language, Psychology, Social media

The Dos and Don’ts of social marketing

Nailing social media

Social Marketing.

Surprisingly, many companies are still poking it with a stick, scared about what exactly they should do with it.

Even worse, many more are just using it like it’s just another marketing channel.

So today I’m going to talk about optimal use of social marketing platforms – and in particular, Facebook – what you should and shouldn’t be doing…

– DON’T think it’s just another marketing channel

The magical thing about Facebook is it’s a place where people come together and talk very openly about pretty much anything so it’s very easy to target the kind of people you’re hoping to attract to your brand simply by posting things on a similar topic.

The biggest mistake you could possibly make with FB is to treat it like any other marketing channel.

For your own good, don’t post some marketing rubbish about how you’ve just released a great new version of your casino and you should come and download it NOW! Do you think that’s what people talk about on FB?

Is that what you go looking for when you go on FB? Most likely not.

– DO post interesting stuff

Join in with your target market on FB. Post about stuff they’re interested in. Get into conversations with them and chat about things.

The more you connect with these people on FB, the more they will lower their guard, which is automatically up when they’re met with typical marketing materials. Once their guard is lowered a bit and they can relate to you as a real person, they’re more likely to check out your brand and what you’re all about of their own accord.

– DON’T sound corporate

You’ll find people on FB chat with each other like they would on the street. It’s very colloquial and informal.

So posting in a corporate tone of voice is just going to get you ignored. People are not interested in responding to or even reading your business bumf on FB. They’re there to have fun, socialise and get lost in a bit of Facebook stalking!

– DO remember you’re a real person!

The best thing you can do for brand awareness using the FB platform is remember you’re a real person and people relate to other people.

People cannot relate to the corporate voice so don’t use it.

Use your own voice. Type your posts the way you would say things, in your own voice, with your own personal nuances.

Once people realise you’re a real person just like they are, they’re much more likely to lower their defences a bit and engage with you.

If you find something funny on FB, share it with your members! Why wouldn’t they appreciate it?

– DON’T get caught up in flame wars

Not everyone out there is going to be nice. There are some people out there on FB that will try to cause trouble on your page.

Resist the temptation to give it right back to these individuals. Everyone knows what a trouble maker looks like. Just ignore them and they’ll look elsewhere for their kicks.

– DO address any issues right there and asap

FB is perfect for showing your members how quickly and efficiently you deal with issues.

So if one of your members posts with a complaint about something, make sure you handle it quickly and politely, but also make sure you do it publicly, so everyone can see you care about your members.

It’s another way of building confidence, but in a more indirect way.

Remember, places like Facebook are absolute gold mines if you just approach them properly.

If you start off your FB presence with a business spiel, you will fail.

Use FB the way it was meant to be used – for socialising. Get to know your members, have a laugh with them, connect with them on a personal level, be one of them.

If you put in the time with them and be genuine about it, they will be more likely to trust you and your brand of their own accord.

That’s all for now. More soon. ;)