Affiliates have become a vital aspect of the marketing campaigns of many online businesses through growth, retention and brand awareness. A strong affiliate programme can account for up to 30% of an operator’s business, and can provide valuable intelligence on the effectiveness of a brand within a market. Often seen as a microcosm of a merchant’s overall operation across all acquisition and retention channels, a successful affiliate programme will combine a stable base of affiliates and a growing number of quality players, while maintaining a strong focus on the key performance indicators of the business.
There are many different ways to be successful in affiliate marketing, and each operator will have a different approach, with unique values. How an operator defines success will vary, but one goal remains constant: establishing a positive, growing net gaming revenue.
In this blog series, we will explore three secrets of a strong affiliate programme: (1) recruiting and activating your affiliates, (2) acquiring and retaining players and (3) focusing on your business’ KPIs.
Today we are looking at raising your profile within the competitive iGaming space and ensuring that your affiliate programme gets the attention it deserves.
Recruiting and Activating Your Affiliates
Having a stable base of affiliates demands having a careful balance of new affiliate sign-ups, and an established group of active affiliates. An important first step in recruiting new affiliates to your programme is creating an Affiliate Programme page that clearly introduces your product, commission structures, payment terms, terms and conditions as well as information on how you support and ensure the success of your affiliates.
Affiliates are your sales force, which makes them your business partners. Like any other entrepreneur, they want to know that they are making a wise investment of their time, their money—and that their reputation won’t be tarnished by a poor partnership decision. So provide them with as much information as you can, making sure you are addressing common concerns and questions. Sharing some of your other marketing campaigns and techniques will help provide trust and transparency of your brand, and create a sense of partnership rather than competition. The more confident they feel about you, the more willing they will be to promote you and your brand. When we make recommendations to affiliates looking for new programmes to promote, one of the first things we recommend, in fact, is to look at the integrity of the brand.
Raising your profile within the affiliate community is essential to drawing affiliates to your programme. Participating at key industry conferences, with a strong focus on your brand presence, can be a very effective start. What can often act as a hindrance, however, is not leveraging the leads that are acquired from these events. All too often, businesses heavily invest in tradeshows, but fall short in the follow up. Just because you received a lot of interest at a tradeshow, doesn’t necessarily mean that you have sealed a deal with an affiliate. Competition is fierce, and first impressions can be easily forgotten in the buzz and excitement that is often present at iGaming events. If you invest money in this avenue, make sure that your follow-up is part of your strategy. Whether you pick up the phone or put together a communication, make sure you reach out to new potential affiliates, reminding them who you are, what you do and why becoming a part of your team is an advantage.
Participating in forums is another great way to recruit new affiliates to your programme. Forums have become popular hangouts, and actively contributing here can help you build your rapport with affiliates. Raising your profile in forums is most effectively done by providing genuine information and comments, not blatant promotion. This is a great venue to show your industry expertise and knowledge and a good source for increasing your credibility. If you do participate here, make sure to moderate any feedback you may receive. While this entails a commitment of your time, it secures the integrity of your brand, and helps you build relationships by furthering a conversation or answering a question. Remember that forums are communities, and should be treated as such. The better you establish yourself as a credible member of this community, the more likely you will be able to recruit new affiliates from this source.
And perhaps one of the best ways to recruit new affiliates is by word of mouth. In this industry, reputation spreads quickly, whether it’s positive or negative. When an affiliate likes the service and the results of an affiliate programme, they’ll often talk about it on social platforms like forums, Twitter and Facebook. That can be a real advantage for you if you are dedicated to your affiliate programme, and think of it as being relationship-driven. So always keep your reputation top of mind, when structuring your affiliate programme—it can often be what makes or breaks you.
Once an affiliate has come on board with you, let them feel that they are part of your business, and provide them with the tools and resources to get started with your programme straight away.
Stay tuned for part 2 of this 3-part series, where we will explore the importance of player retention, and how to ensure that your programme is continually acquiring new players.