ICS-digital, the global marketing agency that specializes in the online gambling industry, has shared with SBC Americas a series of essential tips for international igaming and sports betting operators interested in Latin American markets.

In this first edition, the agency outlines the key steps that any operator must follow to eliminate risk in their marketing strategies and prepare for success in Latin America. ICS-digital is joined here by partners Better Collective, Buen Paso Media and Placard.pt.

Analyze the competition to understand opportunities, and minimize risks

As the igaming and online sports betting environment continues to change and evolve, particularly in fledgling markets, it’s important to get a reliable benchmark of where your brand sits alongside its competitors.

Competitor analysis of brands’ search engine marketing techniques is an essential starting point, particularly if you are a start-up igaming brand looking to position itself well for ‘take-off’ in the LatAm igaming scene. It’s worth taking some time to assess which mainstream advertising options are most frequently used by active igaming brands in regulated markets, in preparation for new ones opening up.

The good news is that there is plenty of data to work with – and competitor insights are an excellent starting point to so exploring the revenue-driving landing pages of your competitors too makes sense. For on-page content, there are also many opportunities to benchmark the competition. What phrases are they emphasizing in headings, titles and meta descriptions?

Part of this process is identifying how competitors are trying to anticipate what users are looking for, both in general terms and in the current context of Covid-19. As Tomás Vaz De Carvalho of Better Collective explains: “Particularly in the LatAm market, which is a booming one, there are many individuals looking to learn more about betting and how they can join in on this medium of entertainment. However, it is especially important during this time to stay focused on the latter word – entertainment. At Better Collective, it’s imperative that betting is promoted as a way to have more fun while watching sports.

“Taking into account the times we are living, where many individuals are confined to their homes, it is important to remember that bookmakers, affiliates and sports betting media companies alike are highly responsible for how they communicate.”

Analyzing competitor content from this perspective will help to inform the path your brand follows – with examples of brands who are getting communications and digital strategy right, but also competitors who are being clumsy and unwise.

When it comes to the search engine results page, systematically check out the brands with prominent featured snippets – what makes their content so engaging and why is Google rewarding them with more real estate on the search engine results page? By answering these questions, it’s possible to incorporate all of the above into your own sustainable search marketing strategy that minimizes the risks of entering new markets.

Ensure your site and platform are flexible, and can adapt to what the player needs

If your igaming brand wants to have the best growth potential, your platform needs to be fluid and flexible. It definitely pays to shop around when it comes to platform providers – and gain as many testimonials, customer references and guarantees from potential suppliers as possible.

Aside from the need to have a platform that is fast and has the potential to perform well in SEO, adaptability is vital in new markets. 

Tiago Pereira of Placard emphasizes the restrictions of many current platforms, and the need to use whatever options are available to showcase online content: “I would say as most sites have limited capabilities in terms of what we can do in SEO, a blog is always a very helpful tool.”

Potential players in diverse global markets will have different interests, queries, concerns and priorities – so a truly multilingual platform with the capacity to test out content and campaigns that respond to their specific goals. Ideally your platform will be as flexible as possible, but they all have limits, so this has to be prepared for.

As Felipe del Pino from Buen Paso Media says: “igaming platforms/sites are complex animals. For this reason, I don’t conceive an SEO team without a dedicated Technical SEO resource”.

Optimizing technical performance and having the ability to easily adapt multilingual on-page content will help you become searchable (and findable) in new markets, with an agile approach that can scale.

Invest time in your own SEO to ‘de-risk’ your LatAm approach

While in many markets the affiliate channel is one of the most dependable sources of players, new markets are (of course) without a mature affiliate tier. With that in mind, it’s especially important to develop your own high-performing and sustainable SEO strategy for the LATAM marketplace. 

Today’s search engines increasingly favor content that matches localized search intent. It’s all part of the search engines improving their performance by giving users exactly what they are looking for – and it takes a detail-focused approach.

Felipe del Pino explains: “Seeing SEO as an expense instead of a medium-long term investment is still a mistake that I often come across when dealing with brands, especially with start-ups. I see a lot of new online sportsbooks and casinos being launched on platforms that aren’t SEO friendly which means they will not be able to attract large numbers of organic visitors. Let’s not forget that organic traffic is highly-convertible so those getting SEO right from the start will eat a bigger piece of the pie down the road.”

Once you have conducted keyword research for localized markets, it’s important to understand what your target demographic actually wants from search engine results from those keywords – otherwise you might be pushing players away. Let’s say for example that you want to create high-performing pages and content around the target key phrase “apostar por el fútbol” (betting on football). An important starting point to de-risk your SEO strategy is to do research on a country-by-country basis to understand what kind of content users in different markets are expecting from that keyword. 

It might be in-depth information on latest odds or tips – or even just the basics of how to bet online or open an account or understand payment methods, given the newness of (legal) online gambling. 

Tomás Vaz De Carvalho explained: “I believe that some of the challenges might lie in offering the right conditions for users to open accounts on online bookmakers and casinos. For example, a factor that plays a big part in this is the availability of local payment methods that are accessible to the common user. 

In general terms, and as mentioned before, LatAm is a large continent, with many different countries, cultures, lifestyles and economies. This means that each segment / target audience will have its own habits and behavior towards online betting. 

In order to overcome these obstacles, it is imperative that igaming stakeholders get to know the local markets and not be fooled by thinking that betting is the same everywhere.”

In SEO it’s important not to assume too much – letting the data (and players) tell the story is what allows data-driven brands to match up their content with what audiences actually respond to. More than this, localized keyword research as a key part of international SEO strategy helps you to not only identify key terms but allows you to factor in cultural differences to your content and conversion rate optimization strategy.