Using SMS and mobile marketing within the gambling/betting sector

SMS marketing can be a valuable (but sometimes overlooked) tool for those in the gambling industry. Bookmakers often feel that, to get real traction from a marketing campaign, it needs to be a behemoth of a campaign – costing millions of pounds and seeing brand names tattooed on the eyeballs of all the biggest sports stars.

In fact, SMS campaigns can prove to be among the most effective and immediate, without needing the contact details of everyone on the BBC’s Sports Personality of the Year longlist.

Benefits to bookies using SMS

Apart from the financial benefits outlined above, bookmakers can expect a great many other advantages by using an SMS campaign, depending on the depth they are willing to take.

At its most involved level, contact numbers can be paired with account details, with the two then working in tandem to make a campaign much more likely to succeed. For example, sending out a mass message about the next big football derby is unlikely to excite someone who only bets on the horses. In fact, it could end up annoying them and damaging the business relationship.

Instead, once details have been matched, bookies can then tailor SMS messages to betting history. Then, whenever a big race, game or tournament looms, only those who have already expressed an interest will be targeted. The number of messages sent out will be fewer, of course, but they will also be much more likely to record a success.

Elsewhere, bookmakers can also use SMS marketing to boost their mobile platform and ensure all customers are aware of how it is used. It shouldn’t be a surprise to many to hear that the gambling industry has headed down a more mobile-friendly route in recent years.

Soaring smartphone and tablet sales – alongside the extensive roll out of superfast broadband – has sent many Brits towards their mobiles for an ever-increasing array of tasks. More people are using their smartphones to shop, conduct research or pay their bills than ever before – so it’s no surprise that betting has followed the trend. In fact, bookies and gambling businesses up and down the country have posted strong gains as a direct result of increased mobile traffic (Sky Betting and Gaming managed 37 per cent revenue increases, whilst William Hill grew by a fifth).

Having a mobile offering doesn’t just boost online figures. Studies involving businesses and retailers from all manner of sectors have found that online campaigns can also drive real-world traffic through the front doors. For those bookies with a presence on the high street, such campaigns could even end up to be more successful than the statistics attest, once real-world visitors are considered.

Lastly, bookies can benefit from the immediacy of SMS campaigns. TV spots might be seen as the holy grail of advertising, but they can often take a long time to go from conception to execution. For this reason, most are done in a suitably timeless fashion to ensure the information is not dated by the time it goes to air.

An SMS campaign, meanwhile, can be executed within a morning, which offers much more freedom. Not only can smaller firms match prices or offers set out by their larger competitors in the national press, they could also react to developments in the world of sport or betting – making for a campaign that is immediate and strikes a nerve. For example, if a football manager gets the chop (and let’s face it, there’s always a Premiership neck on the block), bookies can act quickly, prompting regulars to have a flutter on who they think could be the replacement.

Positives for pundits from text messages

The benefits of SMS campaigns don’t just fall to the bookie, however, but also the punter. For example, a successful campaign need not just be providing special offers or prices but can be a much more content-led approach. This would involve texting consumers (again, about sports with which they have a betting history) developments and updates. A new signing, racecourse conditions or the draw of a tournament may not send people flocking to bet as quickly as a limited-time offer, but provides quality information they can use when looking to place a bet later on down the line. A significantly less hands-on approach, this endears businesses to consumers much more easily than hard-sell tactics ever could.

Know the law about SMS marketing for business

If this has been enough encouragement to roll out an SMS marketing campaign, it’s worth noting the law where gambling is concerned, to ensure the effort isn’t snuffed out – or worse, causes real detriment – before it has the chance to be successful.

Advertising and marketing for gambling is not so heavily regulated as it is for alcohol or cigarettes. In fact, betting firms are legally allowed to advertise using any medium they choose, provided the campaign does not flout a number of rules set up in order to discourage a reliance on gambling and the creation of an addiction.

Firstly, campaigns are not to be targeted at children. This may seem obvious, as there is a legal age limit to gambling, but campaigns must not appeal particularly to those aged 18 or under. This includes mentions of youth culture or references thereof. Similarly, a campaign must not exploit any susceptibilities, aspirations, credulity, inexperience or lack of knowledge, whether in a child or vulnerable adult.

Where adults are concerned, campaigns must not portray gambling as a source of income, an alternative to gainful employment, a way to pay off debt or achieve financial security. It must also not be linked to sexual success or enhanced attractiveness. On the whole, it must not portray gambling in a socially irresponsible – and potentially damaging – way.

If you are considering the value of mobile marketing for your betting shop or gambling business, you may be interested in seeing our latest gambling SMS case studies.