In an effort to dissect igaming’s ever evolving affiliate marketing landscape, our 2020 affiliate survey explored trends, expectations and preferences. To complement the quantitative results that emerged from the survey, we also reached out to affiliates to share their qualitative insights, specifically as it pertains to marketing strategy and promotional efforts.
To provide some context, the affiliate survey revealed that the most popular promotional focuses included organic search (SEO), which was identified as a current strategy by 53% of respondents, followed by social networks (47%) and website ads (40%). When it came to marketing materials, bonus codes were the most popular choice among 51% of affiliates, followed by targeted landing pages at 22%.
With these results in mind, we asked two affiliates, one specialising in online casino and the other online sports betting, to share details on their own approach and outlook regarding marketing strategies.
Tailoring your approach
A veteran affiliate of more than 15 years, Richie Meeuwsen runs frenchroulettelive.com, which focuses specifically on French roulette content for the non-US market. According to the US-based Meeuwsen, the optimal affiliate website requires a holistic approach rather than just relying on a singular strategy.
“The perfect set of marketing materials for me would include an in-depth casino review, targeted banners, targeted landing pages, videos, text links and more,” said Meeuwsen, who expects affiliate websites to include information not always available on a casino’s public site. “The most useful details would be a list of all of the games offered at the casino. It would also be quite beneficial to include the RTP, game provider, a description and any other specifics from which I can sort, categorise and reorganise, according to the topic I am writing.”
Meeuwsen also emphasised the importance of SEO in what he describes as a ‘text-oriented search engine atmosphere’, referencing his well-established industry experience. “I have been doing online casino affiliate marketing full time since 1996. I am a one-person operation that relies 100% upon SEO and content. I have never bought advertising nor created an email list,” he said.
Offering a different perspective from the online casino vertical is Paul Torzel, who has almost a decade of affiliate experience and runs newbettingsites.uk, a top comparison site for UK sportsbooks. While SEO, website ads and pay-per-click were among Torzel’s preferred promotional focuses, we asked him to explain why social networks, a popular choice overall, was not among them.
“In my personal experience, sports betting does not associate well with traditional social channels, such as Facebook, because users don’t like to mix their personal life with their betting experience,” Torzel said. “We do generate some traffic with Twitter, and we use this channel to promote more of our content. However, most users still prefer Google as their main source when searching for betting products.”
Targeted landing pages and banners
With regards to marketing materials, Torzel is aligned with the large number of affiliates that had bonus codes and targeted landing pages ranked as their top two selections. “The best landing pages tend to have generous offers and are constantly updating those offers to help with conversions,” he said. “Even better are personalised landing pages with responsive updates, based on current events, as well as clearly stated information so they convert better. This is important, as I think over 90% of users check the T&Cs.”
Meeuwsen views targeted landing pages in a similarly favourable light. “Generalised marketing does not work for a small affiliate like me. To be noticed, we must laser focus our efforts on more specific topics than ever before,” he explained. “At a minimum, affiliates should be able to send visitors to those main categories so they can get exactly what they want quicker. If a person did a Google search for apples they would not be sent to oranges, so why should a slot player be directed to poker, sports, bingo, lotteries, etc.?”
One marketing material that Torzel and Meeuwsen had ranked similarly was targeted banners, which Meeuwsen sees as potentially beneficial, provided they are managed properly. “Give me a 300×250 banner that displays the current promotion. Don’t ask me to update the banner – they should do it automatically. Don’t kill the link – they can redirect it to a new page. Also, give me another 300×250 banner that shows at least the general type of game I want.”
Torzel, who ranked text links as his third favourite marketing material, explained why he expects banners to gradually lose popularity in favour of other options, supporting Meeuwsen’s point about not wanting to have to manually update banners. “The biggest problem with banners is that they tend to be heavy and, in many cases, don’t auto-update. Also, we see that people don’t click as much on banners compared to text links.”
Reviews & conclusion
When looking at alternatives to banners, Torzel sees online reviews as one of the potential usurpers. “Users tend to read reviews more and trust more comments from other users,” he said. Although reviews only ranked as the sixth most popular marketing material in our survey, 45% of respondents did have it as one of their top four selections.
Meeuwsen also sees the potential of reviews, as long as they are sufficiently informative. “Unless my website has in-depth information, it will be considered fluff. This should include an overview of the casino with all the details like types of games, deposit methods, security, organisation information, etc.,” he said. “I would rather spend the time to research a specific game or aspect of the casino which will actually be useful to my visitors and to the search engines.”
While only time will tell which marketing materials and promotional strategies rise or fall in popularity, Meeuwsen offered an insightful closing note when asked about the continued strength of bonus codes, highlighting the determination needed by smaller affiliates to achieve success. “If you are a small affiliate, I think your time would be better spent on creating more content that goes beyond bonuses. Game reviews and opinions are a good starting point but going further than that would be even better!”
Erica Anderson’s role focuses on developing the marketing strategy for the Income Access brand. Holding a decade’s industry experience, she also oversees the company’s in-house affiliate management team and its suite of digital marketing services. Income Access manages close to 20 affiliate programmes.