betillion’s Mariya opens to Wharton eClub about working in a gaming startup (extended interview) – Part 2

Mariya Nikiforova is a Wharton MBA focusing on management strategy. Her background is in lead generation online marketing. We’re proud to publish extended interview with Wharton eClub:

What is your role with Betillion? What recent projects have you worked on?

As the online marketing manager with Betillion, a social betting and trading gaming site, I am responsible for a three-prong strategy encompassing paid, owned, and earned media. Paid media refers to traditional direct-response channels that include search engine marketing and other forms of paid advertising (Google, Bing, Yahoo!, FacebookAds), aimed at purchasing traffic with a keyword-, context- or lifestyle-targeted approach. Owned media comprises branding, positioning, search engine optimization, social media representation, and any activity that grows Betillion’s presence organically (in the “free” environment).

Finally, “earned” media can be best described as the viral component of the overall online marketing strategy. Earned media is arguably the most unpredictable component, and near impossible to fabricate, as the brand can inspire the word-of-mouth, but not control it in the traditional sense. At this stage of Betillion’s life, I am primarily focusing on the paid and owned factors of the media strategy. My last project involved several Google and FacebookAds marketing campaigns in conjunction with an A/B testing initiative that allowed me to determine the best positioning for Betillion.

In the future, I would love to explore viral marketing, as this is my secret passion, and an area that I am interested in exploring further.

How do you address competition as a small startup?

Betillion is entering a highly competitive market of online gaming. As we introduce this social betting and trading game to our audience, we will focus on awareness, education, and customer analytics with the ultimate goal of competing with the likes of Zynga. That said, we monitor the practices of our peers closely. For example, we keep track of their social networking and organic content; we also follow their relationship with other brands. As we build our reputation, we must maintain a certain unspoken standard that comes only through consistent research of the market and its top and rising players.

How do you adapt and innovate online marketing strategy as the startup grows?

It is important to continuously seek the next big trends in not only advertising, but also in internet user behavior across the board (be it rage comics, memes, top tweets, or trending Google searches). I am also very interested in following the new media of expression, new devices, and new platforms. Now more than ever, it is important to stay flexible and to follow the preferences of users, rather than to target any specific outlet just because it may be the most popular at the moment. With Google, Facebook, Amazon, and Apple encroaching on each other’s core competencies, it is anyone’s guess where advertising, media, and ecommerce will go next!

My advice to startups is to really think about the main vision of the company and define it in terms of milestones on a timeline. With every milestone, you will find that your online marketing strategy will have to be adjusted. The worst thing to do is to rely on one approach for every situation based on past success – fluidity is key.

betillion’s Mariya opens to Wharton eClub about working in a gaming startup (extended interview) – Part 1

Mariya Nikiforova is a Wharton MBA focusing on management strategy. Her background is in lead generation online marketing. We’re proud to publish extended interview with Wharton eClub (you go girl):

What is the significance of online marketing for a brand?

Online marketing is essential for every brand, be it a behemoth like Coca Cola or a small startup like betillion. The purpose of online marketing is to engage the user on all levels of the traditional sales funnel – through raising awareness, satisfying interest, affecting decisions, and driving specific user actions. However, the growing social interconnectedness and innovative customer analytics inherent to online marketing make it a formidable rival to traditional media by extending brand presence beyond 30 seconds of air time or print ads.

Companies will continue to invest in TV advertising over the next 5 years, but investment in digital advertising is rising at a much higher rate (Source: eMarketer). Yes, online marketing is increasingly more significant, and will continue to grow for years to come.

What are the various types of online marketing and how do I know which one is right for my startup?

Online marketing has grown infinitely more complicated, and basic search engine marketing and optimization are no longer adequate. Advertisers and brands can utilize a variety of platforms, search engines, devices, and cross-media channels.  However, I found that it is much more effective to seek a deeper understanding of the behavior of your target audience than to invest in a specific medium.

For example, is your audience mainly male or female? Women are 30% more active on social networks then men, and make over 80% of discretionary purchases. They are also nearly twice as likely to make a purchase online as men. Browsing habits cannot be simply described with age demographics, but rather by lifestyle. A soccer mom will visit sites that are vastly different from a career-climbing woman of the same age, thus it’s important to understand marketing from the perspective of user behavior.

That said, there is no silver bullet, and online marketing strategy will depend heavily on the goals of the startup at a specific point in time. Are you trying to generate buzz? Do you need sales leads? Are you building your brand? Are you addressing an urgent PR issue?

Today, marketing is inseparable from the social media conversation, which is why so many more companies are open to integrating specific social strategies into their marketing mix. Take the Olympics for example, a huge advertising opportunity where companies paid upwards of $300,000 for  a 30 second spot. Interestingly, the Pew centre found that 31 per cent of Americans aged 18 to 29 had followed Olympics coverage on social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter – it makes one wonder how companies could ever pass on this kind of exposure (over 50% of advertisers made no mention of social media, while only 10% provided this information in advertising, according to the MarketingPilgrim).

So what the hell is betillion anyway?

You must be wondering what it all means. Why are we here? What’s the point of life? Who am I?

We won’t provide you with any spiritual guidance of transcendental illumination (we’re just a humble betting and trading game), but we will tickle your fancy with our poll on what the hell “betillion” means. So without further ado…

betillion takes betting & trading gaming to new hights

Well it’s true, we’re here and we’re serious. We’re not playing – we’re gaming.

Welcome to betillion, the first social platform for gamers who want to make bets of any imaginable size, and control their odds without the nuisance of commission or playing fees. The game traces its humble roots to a bet among friends in the little town called Las Vegas, where the idea was conceived after a bout of gambling, general buddy buffoonery, and Mike Tyson’s stolen tiger. Ok, maybe the part about the tiger is a bit embellished (thanks Hangover for forever raising our expectations of Vegas trips, which will never quite reach the schizophrenic, diabolical, and utterly impossible stunts of a well financed film).

Our goals is to revolutionize the online gaming market. Oh yea, it’s happenin’.