IN-DEPTH 26 July 2016
13 tips to keep you in the affiliate game for the long run
The history of the affiliate industry teaches us a lot about surviving well into the future, says Euro Partners Director of Affiliate Marketing Roger Coleen
By Roger Coleen
Are you in this game for the long run? Take a deep breath. As a gaming affiliate, you are capable of running the marathon, despite the obstacles along the way. To stay in the race all you may need is some encouragement from the sidelines.
Drawing from my experience serving the industry over the past decade, I’ve compiled 13 tips which I believe are the most important for long-term success. Not all will be relevant for every gaming affiliate and if you’ve been in the business for a while, some of these suggestions may already be second nature to you. Depending on your current status, you can use this list to help you achieve, regain or retain the necessary momentum to thrive and stay relevant in our fast-evolving field.
1. ANALYSE YOUR SITUATION
You should already be tracking performance in website traffic, sign ups, conversions and income, but even if your current method works well, don’t get stuck on auto-pilot. Take the next step by setting clear, measurable goals for where you want to be in the future. Make concrete plans for achieving those goals and have realistic expectations. Yes, you can earn a lot of money if you play your cards right. No, it’s not going to happen overnight.
2. KEEP YOUR CUSTOMERS SATISFIED
What do customers search for when they visit your website? Is it the verticals you feature? Your offers and promotions? Or something else? Track website clicks to map your users’ journeys (using Hotjar, Google Analytics, Mouseflow or any other of the great tools out there) and try to understand your site visitors’ intent as intimately as possible. Put this knowledge to use and make sure your marketing targets the right people with the right messages. Ask for and relate to feedback. Your customers’ responses are a veritable goldmine for insights that can prove valuable if you take the time to incorporate them into your strategy.
3. BUILD YOUR COMMUNITY
It amazes me every time to still see the importance of having a network effect as part of your business strategy. When you get to think about it, most of the biggest and most successful online businesses are based on great communities, from Waze to LinkedIn to Airbnb. They all allow users to give other users added value. It is a huge challenge, especially in the gambling sector, but once you’ve nailed it, you have an advantage that most of your competitors do not have. Your little “army” of potential customers is ready for you to send them to sign up and deposit with the next recommended operator.
4. STAY INFORMED
Keep focused on the new technologies, marketing tools, social media platforms, and apps being developed. Subscribe to best-in-class industry newsletters and read the informative articles published in gaming magazines. For example, in our newsletter “Euro Partners Monthly Reading List” we curate the best marketing and gambling industry articles published during the previous month, providing our affiliates with everything they need to know to stay on top of the game. Obviously, knowing what options are available to you will help you decide where to invest your time and money.
5. KEEP ABREAST OF REGULATORY CHANGES
The markets where gaming is legally allowed are changing. Laws are being enacted all the time, many with important rules and regulations listed in fine print. Make informed decisions regarding what you want to offer your customers. Decide whether your business is capable of entering newly-regulated markets and focus your marketing efforts accordingly.
6. INVEST IN YOUR WEBSITE
Your homepage is the doorway to your business so keep it leading-edge and fresh. Keep new visitors from bouncing and give returning visitors the sense that you are investing time and effort to make improvements. Do it professionally. The cost of hiring talented designers and programmers will be offset by the business you receive as a result. Test as part of the invest. It is not enough to assume that your design looks great, you need to make sure that it also performs great and serves your needs and goals. A/B & multivariate testing are vital for your user funnel optimisation. Use tools like Optimizely, Visual Web Optimizer (VWO), Maxymiser, etc.
7. MAKE YOUR CONTENT UNIQUE
Customers visiting your website will be turned off by finding the same online reviews and rankings they’ve seen elsewhere. You can help them, as well as improve your SERPs, by having unique, well-written content. Write the game reviews yourself or hire a professional writer to create them for you. This investment in time and creativity will help improve your acquisition rates by keeping your users engaged with your content and coming back for more.
8. AVOID HYPE
Certain words tend to be overused in gaming promotions and advertisements. “The best” is not always the best. “Enjoy great games” will not necessarily refer to games that are great. If you are truly excited about the offers you promote and this excitement doesn’t smell fake to website visitors you may win yourself new customers. Keep your offers transparent and don’t make promises you can’t keep. While you’re at it, maintain a consistent marketing voice. Your emails, web content, and advertisements should all read as if they’re coming from the same business.
9. ACKNOWLEDGE YOUR MISTAKES AND LEARN FROM THEM
Don’t be afraid to experiment. Mistakes steer your course for the future. Learn from what you’ve done wrong and strive to avoid repeating your errors. There is a steep learning curve to becoming a successful affiliate but bad ideas will frequently lead to good ideas, so innovate.
10. LEARN FROM YOUR COMPETITORS (AND DO BETTER)
Follow relevant websites and mailings and judge what works and what doesn’t. Up the ante by launching a better site or a more appealing newsletter. Your efforts will leave the competition behind.
You may be a regular at the Amsterdam, Berlin, and London affiliate conferences, but who do you talk to when you’re there? If your conversations are friendly chats with the same fellow affiliates you see every few months and your main interest is the open bars, you probably have gotten too complacent about making new business contacts. The way to grow and improve your business is by adding industry insiders to your contact list. Utilise your conference attendance to network all you can. Your influence and reputation will grow, both online and offline.
12. DIVERSIFY OR SPECIALISE
Not every marketing strategy fits all. For some, promoting a single vertical or brand makes the most sense, while others prefer branching into as many directions as possible. Having served affiliates over the years in both camps, and while I could enumerate pros and cons for each, the most important thing is to accurately estimate which of these approaches you’re best suited to execute in terms of knowledge and resources, and to ensure that your website and marketing efforts are optimised for your strategy.
13. STAY PASSIONATE
This is probably the most important tip of all. There are plenty of talented people out there who are inspired by the freedom and entrepreneurship afforded by choosing affiliate marketing as their career. In order to stand out among the competition, you have to truly love what you do.