Influencer marketing: Can it Cure the Casino Industry’s Millennial Problem?
By Michael Kleine
Every day that passes Influencer marketing is taking over a larger portion of the marketing industry but what is it, and why is everybody talking about it? Influencer marketing is best described as the use of branded content from high profile social media stars, celebrities, bloggers and micro influencers to create customized messages from their personal accounts to a trusted followership base. Companies are using influencer marketing to replicate the word of mouth effect that just isn’t possible through conventional TV, radio and online banner ads that are commonly seen. With almost 27% of internet users now using AdBlockers banner ads are becoming less and less effective and to get around these blocks companies are using sponsored content. A study was done that said: “Nielsen’s Global Trust in Advertising report shows that 92 percent of consumers trust recommendations from others, even people they do not know, over branded content. Therefore, it is no surprise that Influencer Marketing on Social Media is growing quickly. Influencers support with user generated content, teach consumers about products, drive purchasing decisions and lend search-engine optimization authority.” In a modern era where things are always changing, people are wanting to use brands that have good recommendations from people they trust. More and more advertisers are having to find unique ways to earn that trust, specifically the casino industry that has struggled with gaining new and young millennial customers. I believe that influencer marketing could help build a bridge between Millennials and the casino industry a bridge that has not yet been built through conventional advertising.
Casino Industry Marketing
Casinos are businesses that have been a mainstay in American culture for a countless number of years. To date, the biggest spenders at casinos are baby boomers (Ages 52-70) but as they age out of the business, it’ll be interesting to see how casinos adapt in attracting new Millennial customers. The most successful and common marketing tools for casinos has been the use of email as a point to stay in contact as well as Facebook giveaways and promotions to engage the audience. Along with that they use their loyalty and reward card programs to amplify their emails and giveaways and help attract more loyal customers that will visit repeatedly over a lifetime. Reward programs have become more cut throat, and the gaming industry is constantly looking for ways to provide the most appealing incentives, whether it’s free hotels or bonus tier points that can be cashed in for different benefits, such as free slot play or a dinner. All these methods are traditionally effective techniques that provide good returns to the casino. But is this the most effective way to reach Millennials or for the casinos to rise above the competition? For me personally as a Millennial college student, my promotional emails go into a spam folder and never get seen again, a practice that I know applies to more than just me. Along with that, the average Millennial consumer doesn’t go and like the Facebook page of places they go to on the weekend. So, the question remains, why are casinos doing promotions on their own accounts sending emails and only settling for the tip of the iceberg in terms of social media outreach potential? There are tons of highly engaging influencers out there that can create genuine content to target the exact audience and reach them at a higher impression rate.
Business trends have shown, that although inclined to spend money (a lot of it), Millennials are more likely to spend their money on food and entertainment and non-gambling services whereas for Boomers and Generation Xers it is in fact quite the opposite. So, what does that mean? It could mean that the industry over the next 30 to 40 years will become more entertainment based bringing in more big concerts, and opening more nightclubs. Through movies like Casino Royale and Ocean’s 11 or even the Hangover young people generally associate a good time with Vegas and the concept of gambling, but casinos seem to be a place that in my experience friends do not want to spend their Saturday nights. A big part of that lies in the fact that advertisements that they use don’t communicate and target Millennials effectively or at all really. How can casinos change their identity and usher the new era of players in, without turning off the people who spend the most currently (boomers)?
Influencer Marketing in the Casino Industry
Influencer marketing could become an important avenue for casinos in the near future. 84% of Millennials have social media presence whereas only 66% of Gen X and 44% of Baby boomers are online shooting off tweets, Instagrams, Snapchats and Facebook statuses. From a value standpoint influencer marketing makes sense. There are relevant statistics that can tell you how many people were reached; how much was paid per thousand impressions and it gives a great summary of the age and gender being reached out to so that each dollar spent is going to reach the targeted group. There is also the added benefit of being able to track engagement and return on investment (ROI) when combining data from the loyalty/rewards programs.
Me and my Millennial friends are notoriously influenced by celebrity trends. Under Armour used to be completely irrelevant in terms of basketball, but after signing Steph Curry to a promotional deal they have jumped into the top 3 in basketball shoe sales competing heavily with Adidas and Nike which shows the power that a high-profile person can have on Millennials, a crowd that the casino industry needs to reach.
Influencer marketing is more than just celebrities and athletes, a recent and booming trend in influencer marketing is the engagement of social media stars and micro influencers for distributing branded content. Social media stars are classified as people that aren’t necessarily celebrities, but still have a huge social media following. So, for example, there are people on YouTube who get 2 million views on each video, or a blogger who gets 700,000 people reading their content. That’s considered a social media star. Micro influencers are private individuals with between 250 and 5,000 followers. What’s special about these influencers is that they don’t have huge numbers of followers, but those they do have are very active. Micro influencer profiles therefore have high engagement and a large number of likes, shares and comments. Their friends and followers trust their opinion, with the result that communication and interaction are authentic. Often times these two groups are less known, but can be even more effective because of the active engagement that they have with their follower base.
Influencer Marketing in Regulated Industries
Being in a regulated industry, being cautious with marketing is a fair concern, however, many regulated groups are expanding their marketing portfolio and overcoming some of those concerns by creating solid strategies with good plans in place. Along with that, the outlook for 2017 is that marketers will adapt and better understand the constraints regulated firms have and understand how to comply to those standards more efficiently.
Getting Started with Influencer Marketing
The success of your influencer marketing gets down to how you are going to pull it off. Because there is a considerable budget associated with this form of marketing, your instinctual preference should be a reliable influencer marketing company. Fourstarzz is one such company that you can put your trust into as it has worked with great brands and successfully launched influencer marketing campaigns with them. Their three-step approach has proven to be very effective:
1) Bloggers with a reputation in the field visit the casino and blog about their experience
2) Have the blogger then go online to promote their new blog content through their personal social media accounts on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter
3) Amplify the content through Micro-Influencers and Facebook or Twitter ads.
Fourstarzz works closely with influencers to design content that complies with the regulations while still preserves the natural tone of the Influencer; something that’s pertinent for all successful influencer campaigns. Keeping the tone of the influencer natural and unbiased and to make an endorsement in a way that reaffirms their followers’ trust is key to success!