Diana Larina, Head of Growth Marketing at Evoplay, speaks to CasinoBeats about the importance of marketing in achieving success in a bustling online slots ecosystem.
CasinoBeats: Across such a saturated space, and with an arguably overwhelming volume of games released on a weekly basis, how crucial is it that game studios correctly strategise their marketing campaigns?
Diana Larina: Within the fiercely competitive igaming landscape, a robust marketing strategy isn’t merely advantageous; it’s indispensable. The average person sees between four to ten thousand advertisements daily, prompting brands to invest significantly in capturing consumer attention.
A meticulously designed marketing strategy takes centre stage, ensuring that our voice resonates effectively, expenditures are judiciously managed, and return on investment is optimised.
Whether in igaming or any industry, it’s vital to recognise that a comprehensive marketing strategy functions as a unified mechanism. Remove one wheel, and the car won’t move.
Acknowledging the pivotal role of the marketing component in overall company success, Evoplay is committed to continuous planning, strategy tracking, research, and adaptive adjustments. Staying agile is paramount; we keep our fingers on the pulse of industry dynamics, allowing us to navigate the ever-evolving landscape effectively.
CB: In your opinion, how can this be correctly achieved? What has to be put in place to ensure marketing success?
DL: To ensure marketing success, it’s vital to kickstart a finely tuned mechanism. At Evoplay, our approach begins with an in-depth market analysis and competitor study, utilising a SWOT analysis during the research stage. Armed with comprehensive analytics, we shape a go-to marketing plan, facilitating the successful launch of our games and reinforcing our brand’s well-established presence.
It’s crucial to highlight that marketing transcends conventional promotion channels for us. Like our innovative approach to crafting cutting-edge games, we prioritise creative thinking in our marketing messaging and presentation.
A tangible example of this strategy is the announcement of Evoplay’s upcoming flagship 3D racing game, Adrenaline Rush, hosted in Malta last year. Drawing inspiration from the timeless concept of event marketing, akin to the Romans’ shows in the Colosseum, Evoplay orchestrated a thrilling car racing event for our partners.
It not only heightened our communication effectiveness but also provided partners with a first-hand experience of the adrenaline rush and enjoyment awaiting igamers.
CB: What is Evoplay’s plan of action when it comes to new releases? How do you best adjust marketing efforts to the theme of the title that is being released?
DL: Game release planning by product teams should be coupled with marketing strategy. This synergy enhances productivity and sparks creative ideas for igaming studios. Speaking of Evoplay, our portfolio boasts numerous themed games, offering the marketing team ample opportunities for promotion.
For instance, our Inner Fire slot inspired captivating fire-themed campaigns like Fire Day, Hot Spins, and Fire Bets. Looking ahead, we have an enticing tournament planned for igamers on Valentine’s Day this February.
Such marketing activities consistently elevate key performance indicators by one-and-a-half to two times during campaigns, with a sustained 10 per cent-15 per cent post-promotion surge, catering to the preferences of igamers.
In B2B communications, beyond efficient operational cooperation, we immerse our partners in vibrant events, fostering profound connections. For example, at the SBC Summit Barcelona 2022, our stand featured engaging football entertainment, and as previously mentioned, the car racing event in Malta resonated positively with partners, providing a glimpse into the experiential journey awaiting players.
Our philosophy embraces a holistic approach, much like a well-crafted car. Themes and mechanics intertwine seamlessly to avoid monotony. We consistently present unique experiences to our partners and igamers, paying special attention to the preferences of the expanding Gen Z, who hold immense potential to be involved in our industry and propel it to new heights of evolution.
CB: Could you talk us through the increasing popularity of influencer marketing? What is Evoplay’s stance when it comes to such an option?
DL: The increasing popularity of influencer marketing has become a noteworthy trend in the industry. However, for Evoplay, as an igaming development studio, the benefits of such a strategy are less conspicuous than other industry participants.
The challenge lies in calculating ROI from collaborations where, in addition to us and the influencer, there is also a casino with a vast range of games from other providers. Consequently, influencer marketing is more advantageous for casinos and betting platforms.
Nevertheless, we recognise the adeptness of influencers in crafting high-quality, engaging content about our games, effectively reaching a targeted audience. To leverage this potential, we focus on collaborating with micro-influencers in promising regions, such as Latin America, where there is substantial interest in our football-themed instant games like Penalty Shoot-out: Street.
At the same time, I want to underscore the associated risks of this marketing tool. A single unsuccessful contract can significantly tarnish a company’s reputation and lead to substantial losses. Therefore, meticulous selection based on influencers’ reputations, past collaborations, values, and influence is paramount.
Summing up, on a global scale within the igaming market, the relevance of influencer marketing varies. While some find it highly effective, others perceive limited benefits, and for some, it remains irrelevant.
CB: How can you best tailor marketing efforts to attract the next generation of players to your games?
DL: Marketing provides various tools for this purpose. Firstly, we’ve noticed a shift in player priorities – moving from playing solely for wealth accumulation to emphasising the enjoyment of the gaming process, where rewards serve as pleasant bonuses.
Secondly, considering the rise in mobile online igaming, we craft fast, lightweight, and tailored games for seamless mobile experiences.
Thirdly, understanding the preferences of the next generations, who are smoothly entering the igaming realm and favouring quick, small bets and mobile-first products, is paramount. It’s noteworthy that Gen Z consumes almost all content at x2 speed; our portfolio features many instant and crash games designed to meet their need for speed.
Gamification and personalisation emerge as crucial strategies for attracting the new generation of igamers who seek a sense of community, enjoy competition, and value the ability to transition between different experiences swiftly.
Lastly, themes play a pivotal role. Cultural context remains significant to players, exemplified in our football-themed instant and crash games, which have gained traction in the Latin American market. By incorporating football and betting themes that align with the cultural context of the region, we’ve successfully engaged the younger Gen Z audience, the future igamers generation.
CB: What fresh techniques do you expect to emerge within this space through 2024?
DL: This year, the rising popularity of gamification and integrating social elements into games will likely be prominent directions. Another intriguing trend on the horizon is the evolving landscape of online communities. We’re witnessing a gradual shift from high interest in cryptocurrency towards NFTs, not just in igaming but across various domains.
Platforms like Telegram and Discord are becoming hotspots for sharing news, opinions, trends, and hobbies, particularly among the younger generation. Gen Z represents a significant chunk – about 44 per cent of Discord users fall into the 18 to 24 age group.
This unfolding scenario suggests that the entertainment world is continually expanding, drawing in a new wave of players. It echoes the strategic direction that Evoplay has taken, aiming to go beyond the conventional boundaries of igaming and steadily progressing toward a new phase of development within our industry.