Operators need to help those helping them
Published 17th January 2018
Does anyone feel that digital marketing in the betting and gaming sector is getting easier? Didn’t think so.
Although there are still huge opportunities in the industry, with new markets and technologies opening up access to new players and territories, competition remains high and regulatory changes can be a double-edged sword.
Recently, major operators have changed how they relate to affiliates, some of whom are complaining that trust is being broken.
The fact is there is a balance that needs to be struck between the heavy reliance most operators still have on affiliate traffic, and the need to have greater clarity over how players are being acquired.
Some operators will try to lay down the law and prove that their partnership, which they probably talked up while wining and dining potential affiliates, is actually pretty one-sided against them.
However, there is another way and it’s one that we at Blueclaw believe will benefit both operators and affiliates: a genuinely collaborative approach to digital marketing.
Sharing stats, exclusive insights, collateral and even offers specific to some specially selected af liates, helps to create buy-in while equipping af liate partners to be more effective.
Cost-based digital marketing always has a ceiling. If you’re paying for clicks or coverage, you can go only as far as your budget allows.
A more collaborative approach opens up new potential for growth, whether you’re giving story ideas to journalists to win coverage, building rapport with a top social influencer or working with industry partners to create, share and amplify content.
Operators with an eye on growth need to meaningfully collaborate with affiliates and, in turn, affiliates need to work with an understanding of what operators need in the current regulatory environment.
Short-term, slash-and-burn tactics are out. Long-term, high-quality strategy is in.
So, what does collaborative digital look like in gaming?
1. Operator and affiliate collaboration
When it comes to SEO and content marketing in particular – and, let’s face it, gaming companies depend on both to succeed – any approaches that fuel player acquisition must be based on collaboration.
That means working with partners, industry experts, websites and publications to increase performance. Rather than simply waiting to be fed traffic, operators should be supporting affiliates with their digital marketing.
The more closely that operators and affiliates work together, the greater the visibility that operators have of the sources of their traffic and the greater confidence they can have in their affiliate partners, despite a changing regulatory environment.
For too long, operators have been happy to let affiliates battle it out to send them traffic. A more focused approach with operator marketers lending their expertise with collateral, consultancy and hands-on help will boost everyone.
2. Collaborative SEO
Operators need traffic that converts. Affiliates need traffic that they can pass on profitably.
Operators should be working closely with affiliates and helping them to steer their strategies in different directions.
In a battle royale, where every affiliate is competing for the same traffic, results are limited. Operators know the traffic they need – and sharing that data with affiliates will help everyone.
With more of a steer from operators, affiliates have a chance to specialise more, resulting in the breadth – and volume – of traffic needed.
3. Collaborative content
Content marketing is intrinsic to contemporary SEO and link earning. Most affiliates lack the resources required to win big links from the mainstream media, but operators’ professional marketers can and should share some of their knowledge.
Content marketing and PR are already dependent on working with media outlets and responding to their needs to secure coverage, whether it’s via content marketing or stats and insights that audiences are interested in.
In return for a more committed focus from affiliates, operators can help them to develop their outreach and content creation. Sharing stats, exclusive insights, collateral and even offers specific to some specially selected affiliates, helps to create buy-in while equipping affiliate partners to be more effective.
4. Re-establishing trust
Over the past few months, at affiliate-focused events in Amsterdam, Berlin and Malta, the Blueclaw team has been in attendance and sharing insights. At each event, operators have been falling over themselves to impress affiliates and get signups.
As with any relationship, success is less about how things start and more about how things work on a day-to-day basis.
Operators ask for a lot from affiliates but in the current market, many affiliates are trying to push the boat out in terms of the deals they negotiate with operators. Why? Because relationships have become less about a long-term partnership and more about what you can get in the short-term. That isn’t good for anybody.
There’s a huge appetite for all manner of gaming entertainment, but for operators and affiliates to maintain and increase profit margins, a new approach is needed.
We suspect that in the near future more operators will shut down or severely limit their affiliate operations. But for those who remain active, trust is key.
We’ll continue to share our insights openly with the industry, but operators should look to do likewise and demonstrate that they have the best interests of affiliates at heart. In turn, affiliates should be prepared to up their game and adopt methodologies that will deliver high-quality traffic to operators.