Best in class

Best in class

As we reflect on the recent seventh annual edition of the iGB Affiliate Awards, we took the opportunity to sit down with one of our winners, Lauren Wiggan of bet365, to discuss her success, and also the current state of the ever-competitive bingo affiliate market.

Published 17th June 2014

Congratulations on winning the award for Best Affiliate Manager in Bingo. Having been recognised for your “perfect attitude” towards affiliates, what do you think an affiliate looks for in the perfect affiliate manager?
I am delighted to have won the Award for Best Affiliate Manager in Bingo. It really was a great feeling going up on stage to collect it, so thanks to all those that voted for me.

First and foremost when it comes to displaying the ‘perfect attitude’, my priority is developing a level of trust between myself and my affiliates, which I believe to be a fundamental component of any good relationship. This comes by being open with affiliates, and having a happy-to-help attitude at all times which subsequently allows affiliates to see you as a welcoming, approachable manager.

I think it’s essential that affiliates see our business association as a partnership rather than merely a transactional process which can be detrimental to their success on the program. Our affiliates play a profoundly important role at bet365 and it is therefore essential for me to show a high level of enthusiasm towards them at all times. Fortunately, I’m quite a happy-go-lucky person, so this comes naturally to me in my work role.

What specific skills does an affiliate manager need to get the most out of their relationships?
Ultimately, an affiliate manager acts as a catalyst for affiliates. They are the primary source when it comes to providing key, up-to-date information about products and offering the correct marketing materials, giving the affiliate the means to promote the operator to the best of their ability.Having regular contact with affiliates and understanding each individual’s preferred method of communication is therefore a crucial factor, serving to not only enhance the relationship but also endorse success.

In today’s current market, affiliates are often required to display an element of individuality and to be unique when it comes to their sites, and so it is vital that managers constantly make efforts to consider the qualitative specifics of their affiliates’ activity, and how we can aid that, in order to ensure that an affiliate’s development improves and is not merely maintained. Furthermore, I strongly believe that having a friendly and receptive personality and having the ability to connect with affiliates in all contexts, including socially, is a huge factor in the role of an affiliate manager.

The many conferences that are held are an essential way for managers to establish stronger relationships with their affiliates on a more personal basis, which in the long run makes for a better working partnership.

How important was the role of affiliates in getting the bet365bingo site established in the early days?
Our affiliates have, without a doubt, played a huge part in the development of bet365bingo. The online market is immeasurable and without our affiliate partners we would not have been able to reach our core demographic throughout the online space to the degree that we have successfully managed so far. Not only this, but affiliates add a level of diversity to our program, reaching out to bingo players in a way that ensures our presence is broadened in the best possible way.

Subsequently, this brings increased turnover, revenue and more bingo traffic which positively impacts our affiliates’ commissions and conversions. The bet365 Affiliates Team are currently actively working in some way with all of the top bingo affi liates in the industry, which I’m sure you’ll agree is a fantastic achievement and testament to the successes of both our brand and our affiliates to date.

How would you view the health of the current bingo sector?
Bingo is a thriving industry, and that is evident by the number of new bingo operators that are currently competing in order to try and gain a share of the market. Although some may consider the market to be saturated, I view it as a highly lucrative but competitive market. Despite this competition from new operators, we have a wide range of processes in place to ensure the best possible player retention levels, which works to keep affiliates actively working with us and promoting us on their sites.

As a result of these on-going retention efforts, we are continuing to see our retention rates, player values and player numbers increase, demonstrating the fact that if you have a strong and well thought-out customer proposition, you can continue to succeed in these arguably more difficult times.

Does innovation in software have the same effect as it does in casino in engaging and maintaining the interest of the player?
When it comes to casino, the look and feel of the game plays a large role in the overall user experience, and this is similarly true for bingo. Our own understanding of multiplatform and multi-channelled gaming has allowed us to get the most from our players, and vice versa, which develops increased player loyalty and helps to boost the commissions that our affiliates generate.

In particular for bingo, having an extensive list of promotions is always a benefit, in addition to a wide variety of games and jackpots.

Staying on the theme of innovation and thinking both in terms of player experience and the affiliate program, how does bet365bingo define itself from the competition?
In order to further expand the growth of our brand and our affiliate program, we have been required to understand the activities presented by our bingo players in order to become innovative in a way that ensures continued success. We recognise that there are other areas of interest for bingo players, and this has led us to cater further to the needs of those who enjoy bingo slots. For this reason, we have grown our site to include one of the largest selections of bingo slots games around.

We have also launched the Bingo Slots Club promotion which allows slots players to earn rewards of up to £1,000 every fortnight. This reward system in itself is representative of our desire to be innovative and competitive in the current market which, of course, has the knock-on effect of benefitting our affiliates too.

How responsive have players been to mobile platforms?
Our bingo mobile app is a relatively new addition to our product and it has been received fantastically, as there has been a significant uptake by our bingo players. The development of mobile bingo has taken the world by storm and our players are seeing the app as a more convenient way to play bingo at bet365.

How competitive is the modern bingo sector for affiliates?
Similar to operators, I see this more as a competitive market rather than an over-crowded one. Having said that, I think that the majority of bingo affiliates will agree with me when I say that it has become more difficult to be successful in today’s market when compared with a few years ago. This is not only down to an influx of bingo affiliates but also because of problems faced by Google updates such as Penguin and Panda.

Despite these difficulties, many affiliates that are offering something unique to their users, whilst optimising their SEO and PPC campaigns, are successfully entering the bingo market.

What makes for a successful bingo affiliate?
Affiliates should ensure they have a thorough understanding of their visitors in terms of what offers and promotions they prefer and therefore suit. They should also ensure that their website continuously offers fresh, unique content to keep up consistent engagement levels. Promoting trusted operators’ sites is also a must. Affiliates can sometimes make the mistake of promoting smaller operators that offer the highest commissions or CPA deals expecting to see a fantastic return, but unfortunately, this can often result in drastically fewer conversions for the affiliate. In my opinion, affiliates that focus their time and effort on promoting trusted brands end up better off in the long run.

Finally, the road to success is not always instant, and a good bingo affiliate site takes time to grow. With that in mind, if an affiliate puts the effort in and shows patience and perseverance, they will ultimately become more successful than those that don’t.

What are the key challenges facing bingo affiliates in the year ahead?
In order to stay ahead of the game, affiliates need to guarantee that they always display elements of individuality or they will risk becoming lost. The development and increased usage of mobile and tablet platforms means that affiliates will have to overcome any technical challenges presented in the transition of bingo to mobile devices in order for them to capitalise fully. I think this may prove to be one of the biggest challenges faced by affiliates this year, but something that is essential in ensuring the survival of bingo affiliates in the industry today.