IN-DEPTH 6 June 2016
Adding affiliate value ahead of Euro 2016
As the pressure cranks up for Euro 2016 supremacy on the field, there’s also going to be plenty of clamouring for attention off the pitch too.
By Jesper Søgaard
bettingexpert.com’s Jesper Søgaard takes a look at what affiliates can do to stand out from the crowd and ensure that players, bookmakers, and their own products get the attention they deserve
There are certain sporting events that eclipse others in the world of betting, gaming, and affiliates. The Cheltenham Festival and Royal Ascot in horse racing, big blockbuster boxing matches, the FIFA World Cup, and, now just around the corner, the UEFA European Championship.
The Euros provide a massive opportunity for affiliates to offer something special to their customers, and make full use of the extra exposure the tournament gives to those outside of regular betting circles.
But how can sites that are competing for the attention of a mixed audience of seasoned punters and seasonal bettors ensure that they enjoy a successful month in support of what promises to be a stirring, expanded tournament? One way to do this is by adding value. With so many stakeholders involved, it is important for these sites to provide benefits for all of their players on both sides of the pitch.
Affiliates, in particular, have a whole spectrum of opportunities to add value for their stakeholders, which in turn will benefit their own bottom line as well. Here are some of the key areas to focus on.
First and foremost, as should be the case with any affiliate venture, the customer needs to be at the centre of all thinking. Sealing customer interest, and onward betting activity, is the sure-fire way to ensure that operators are pleased.
Customers are going to be bombarded with Euro 2016 activity from all industries – beer brands, clothing, cars, and so on. Affiliates can offer something extra from a betting angle by creating a social experience online, enabling customers to feel part of the discussion around the tournament.
For bettingexpert.com, this is done by giving customers the opportunity to prove their knowledge against (and with) their peers. They have a chance to compete and beat the best tipsters out there. It’s about giving customers a service that allows them to put their own skills to the test. If you can help them feel like they are personally invested in the tournament, you have a chance to improve their experience of the Euro 2016 competition.
Then there’s customer support. Simply offering a one dimensional service isn’t enough. Customers who are new to betting – and there will be many attracted by big football tournaments – don’t just want to see the options; they want to see what the best options are. Creating a space where they can find support is another way of giving them a better experience.
Perhaps it’s through simple, up-to-date editorial and comment, or maybe statistical analysis. Or thirdly, drawing on the social aspect again, it can be those peer opinions that help give customers a steer on the bets they should make.
For those new bettors, one good strategy to encourage them to be involved is to provide a freeplay entry option. For example, it might be the creation of fantasy leagues for users to compete for fun against each other. Not everyone wants to put their money on the line, at least not initially, so this is a great way to enable players to test their own abilities.
Fantasy leagues allow users to see how they’d do in the tournament for real, encouraging social engagement, and also provide the possibility of converting non-paying customers into paying, returning revenues.
The next step on is to offer good prizes to players who are the most successful. This isn’t just in the form of monetary gains or memorabilia – those sorts of rewards are going to be everywhere in the approach to the tournament. It is worth considering rewards that consolidate the social aspect and experience of your products. Using gamification techniques allows affiliates to be ‘stickier’ to customers, and keeps them returning to the site.
Remember, the majority of viewers who watch the Euros are not immediately willing to put their money on the line; but a chunk of that majority is interested in engaging into social wagers with their peers. Creating a platform that can satisfy that desire will give you a stronger chance of attracting users. Nurturing this growing consumer base with value added services gives the affiliate a solid foothold ahead of the Euros.
Beyond sending general punters through to the operators, what else are you offering them to keep you in the loop?
Using trackable offers and promos can provide operators with a significant insight into how effective different offers are, and the best affiliates can then work to make sure the right offers are in front of the right people.
Promotional offers are aplenty during major events, so it can be difficult for bookmakers to stand out – that’s where affiliates can really help them get cut-through in the right areas.
Affiliates can ensure that the offers are sent to the customers who are actually interested, which is beneficial on three fronts. Operators attract valuable customers, customers find the offers that best suit their needs, and affiliates (as the mediator) experience increased traffic levels, driving more targeted traffic.
The data aspect also plays a huge part in this area of activity. The more information that affiliates and operators can attain from their users, the better they can tailor their products accordingly. For example, with bettingexpert.com we can look at what punters are predicting, and use this to ensure the most appropriate offers are shown to them. If they’re heavily predicting horse racing results, then perhaps Euros offers aren’t the right choice. Or if a customer is predominantly predicting on England markets, then any England specials should be sent their way.
What can affiliates do to add to the event itself?
Coming full circle, affiliates want to find that extra value that comes from enhancing the Euros experience for the football fans. It’s no longer just about gaining a piece of the action, it’s about adding to it.
One way to do this is to look at the current mediascape. The second-screen phenomenon, where TV viewers simultaneously engage their phones or tablets as they view the box, has become the new norm. Live tweeting is already a staple of every major event, with social media activity capturing the success and growth of each new tournament. The FIFA World Cup Final in 2014 was the most tweeted sporting event ever, with 280m twitter interactions over the 90 minutes, peaking at 620,000 tweets a minute.
However, not every tweet is relevant for users that enjoy betting or crunching the numbers during a match. Providing a live social platform that focuses on satisfying the needs of these particular customers is a way to cut through the global clutter. Adding value by boosting the viewing experience for your users, is an invitation for them to come and watch other events with you again.
Your own product
As affiliates are mitigators for customers and operators, it’s important not to neglect either. If one goes disregarded, the value will decrease for the other.
However, it’s all well and good looking to the customers, the operators, and the event, but without a high quality product of your own, then everything else can become a futile exercise.
Affiliates need to take a long term view, past the end of the Euro 2016 tournament. It’s a fantastic opportunity to show off the brand and build awareness among operators and customers, but then the value must continue well beyond the final on July 10.
Getting your name out there, and taking a position of how you want to be seen, can ensure ongoing success. If customers trust and value your product over the course of a massive sporting event, they will be more likely to return for future events.
Managed correctly, all of this – the product, the value added to customers and operators, the brand development – will reflect well on the most crucial focus of any business: the bottom line. Not just for the month of the tournament, either. The Euros can be the springboard to even greater success in the following weeks and months.
As an affiliate, it’s important to focus on building a unique platform with a customer-focussed angle. Doing this, while allowing operators to target new users with precision, will put those clamouring for attention in a strong place as Europe’s finest international football teams go up against each other.
Who are you tipping?
Jesper Søgaard is founder and CEO of Better Collective, a leading provider of betting tips, bookmaker information and betting tools. Better Collective also runs the award-winning affiliate site bettingexpert.com