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Esports marketing strategies your brand should be exploring
Knowledge | Brands Marketing

Esports marketing strategies your brand should be exploring

11 min read
Gabriela Cendrzak

Are you considering promoting your brand with the help of esports marketing and are currently in the process of researching absolutely everything about it? First of all, congratulations – including one of the world’s fastest-growing industries in your marketing strategy is a smart idea. You are about to join a group of forward-thinking brands that have noticed the not fully understood potential of working with gaming influencers and advertising products on streaming platforms. Now, choosing the right approach is vital – there are many routes you can take, and some of them will fit your needs better than others. Let’s take a closer look at the wide variety of esports marketing strategies, discuss their pros and cons, and see how you can tap into the advertising gold mine that is the gaming community.

Understanding the esports marketing ecosystem

Before we go into details, let’s begin with the basics. What does the term “esports” even mean? The word itself is an abbreviation of “electronic sports” and refers to competitive gaming, broadcast live for the audience. Once you give it a closer look, you notice many similarities between esports and traditional sports – especially from the marketing point of view. In both cases, you can distinguish:

  • competitors (single or teams) that usually become celebrities and sooner or later start taking sponsorships,
  • fans who will happily support their favourite players or teams and take interest in products they promote, and
  • brands that sponsor single players, teams or even entire events in exchange for having their products and/or services promoted.

Other similarities include:

  • The importance of broadcasting events live,
  • streaming platforms (TV channels in traditional sport) being an important player and essential part of the ecosystem,
  • different genres (disciplines in traditional sport) attracting different audiences.

It’s important to keep in mind that it’s not only professional players who are involved in esports – and they are not the only ones to gather fans. In fact, the most popular streamers are not professional competitors. Despite being experienced gamers, often involved in esports advertising and even taking gaming sponsorships, they are mostly entertainers and content creators.

The target market

The first thing to consider when thinking about investing in esports sponsorship is whether or not you have a chance of reaching the right audience this way. So, who are the esports fans? If you were to guess, you would probably picture a bunch of teenagers whose main interests include gaming, choking down energy drinks and reading fantasy books. And while boys under 18 are definitely a noteworthy part of the target demographic, esports fans make a much more diverse group than you might have suspected. Gaming itself is no longer considered a hobby reserved mainly for young men, as currently, most gamers are between 18 and 35, with females making up almost half of the group. And even though gaming live streams still attract more men than women, the tendency is slowly shifting to being more inclusive. This means that ads broadcasted during gaming tournaments reach mostly Millennials and members of Generation Z of all genders. It’s important to notice that a lot depends on the genre and the game itself – for example, Fortnite, a free-to-play battle royale game from 2017, appeals mainly to younger fans, while an absolute classic of a CCG (Collectable Card Game) that is Magic the Gathering brings in more mature spectators. If you want to become an esports sponsor, you should track which games attract fans that are closest to your intended target audience and go from there.

The platforms

Once we have the target issue settled, let’s think about the right channels. When it comes to social media, the gaming community is the most active on Twitter. Nevertheless, no social media channel can hold the candle to live streaming platforms – especially the titan in this category that is Twitch. Others include:

  • YouTube Gaming
  • Hitbox.tv
  • Azubu
  • GosuGamers
  • Smashcast
  • SteamTV

Keep in mind that while advertising your products or services on Twitch has the potential of bringing you the biggest audience, it also comes with the most competition. Depending on your intended target audience, it may be more profitable to start promotion on a platform that is less popular but gives you a nice niche to fill. An even better alternative is to use a platform that connects brands with streamers via creative and interactive ads that don’t disturb the audience and get superior CTRs and ROI, like inSTREAMLY.

Choosing the right strategy

Now that you are a little more familiar with the gaming ecosystem, let’s take a look at possible paths you can take when it comes to including esports in your marketing strategy.

Esports sponsorships

Sports, electronic or not, cannot exist without sponsors. You can recall the brands you’ve seen in the arenas and sports fields from memory – Pepsi, Red Bull, Coca-Cola, Reebok, Adidas, Puma… Esports sponsorships are becoming equally iconic. Brands like Intel, MasterCard or Gillette have already secured their spot in the gaming community by making significant investments, hosting events and even producing their own gaming-related content. However, do not feel discouraged by the prominent dominance of big brands – both big and small esports sponsors can thrive in this environment. You have a few options to choose from. Depending on what fits your marketing style, budget and expectations the most, you can either go for supporting an individual competitor or invest in an esports team sponsorship. You can even launch your own esports team that will be associated with your brand from the very beginning. However, gaming sponsors are not patrons to professional competitors exclusively – as we’ve already mentioned, many of the community’s most influential figures are actually entertainers or content creators. Not to even mention that they make good business partners, as they are already experienced with creating persuasive materials! It’s not only gamers you can support. Sponsoring or co-sponsoring events is a great way to not only interest the audience with your brand, but also to build credibility on the platform. This option is usually more expensive but ensures a big audience and high engagement, which may translate well into the results of your marketing campaign.

Organising events

Besides making some good esports sponsorship deals, you can also consider organising some events yourself. If you are not particularly experienced in the matter, start small – for example, by hosting a mini-tournament for the local gaming community. It’s an especially good idea if you want to create long-lasting relationships with gamers – you can establish your position as a gracious patron that takes interest in the subject, rather than just a random company that seeks a quick way to get more revenue.

Gaming and esports related content marketing

Finally, let’s not forget about the classic that is creating valuable content for the gaming world to enjoy. Again, if you are a newbie, it will be best to partner with influencers and community creators. Using their voices to promote your products will allow you to reach a wider audience. Your content can also be promoted on different social media platforms, from Twitter to Facebook, and even through in-stream ads. With thorough research and a spark of creativity, you can turn your blog or podcast into a respectable community news hub or even an opinion-forming medium. And don’t forget about strategic CTAs! Esports marketing provides you with truly astonishing opportunities, but not all brands that decide to advertise through streaming platforms are primed for success. Esports community values authenticity and can be ruthless towards brands that, in their opinion, are trying to capitalise on gaming while delivering nothing in return. This is why it is vital to find a dependable partner that knows how to navigate the meanders of esports relevance. inSTREAMLY connects brands and the gaming community in a way that is the most beneficial for both parties. If you want to take your marketing to a whole different level, give us a try!

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