Richard Smith is currently working as growth strategist for Shangri La Online having in the past worked as CEO and co-founder of pixel.bet, kto.com and senior product and commercial roles at bet365 and Betsson Group.
What are some of the biggest mistakes you see affiliates make when trying to grow their business?
Affiliates rightly focus a lot on SEO and content, but is it really enough to take them to the next level? I can speak about this from a position as an pperator, who works very closely with affiliates. In my opinion, the two biggest mistakes that they make are:
- They have a one size fits all approach to operators, sometimes not fully understanding what the brand’s strengths and weaknesses are
- A lot don’t provide particularly engaging user-friendly content or product design (with their users in mind). It can sometimes feel that they just put the well-known brands at the top, with no consideration for the actual merits of this, encouraging the player to choose the top brand, alongside fake reviews/stars. In 2020, this is actually a huge red flag for users who can start to not trust the affiliate site if these star reviews/content look fake.
How can this impact their bottom line business and growth opportunities?
Conversion and retention are going to produce the best financial success stories for an affiliate’s traffic. In theory, the brands which are most suited for what the customer wants are going to convert the best rather than just the biggest brands.
When I look at the biggest brands, they can have multiple issues that would hurt conversion. Lack of local payment methods in new/developing markets, long payout waits due to operational inefficiencies. A smaller, new brand may have the most popular payment method, have better, leaner processes and their conversion is going to be much higher.
The users who this is particularly important to will be much more loyal to the brand that meets their needs. Affiliates who want to prosper need to see themselves as more than just a conduit from player to brand, and as part of the player experience of choosing a brand. I think affiliates should spend more time taking a view on a new brand and assessing what they really offer, and more importantly, being able to get this on their site.
Secondly, I think they can categorise the brands in a better way, which also benefits the player with a good experience on the affiliate site, making them more likely return in the future. Repeat customers are very valuable for the affiliates.
How does diversifying the brands that they are working with solve this?
When players become more experienced, they are aware of the larger brands – they are aware of who they are and what they offer. So, many experienced players use affiliates as a source to find new brands, as they are perhaps bored, or the bigger brands don’t meet their needs. By having brands that offer differentiation in the player experience that are new, trusted and showcased clearly, you will appeal to an important segment for affiliates – the experienced gambler!
What other advice would you give to affiliates looking to grow their businesses or ensure stability in operations?
Of course, as Bill Gates famously said, ‘content is king’ – but having content that is not just SEO-friendly but also informative and engaging is certainly going to elevate affiliate sites, as is having video content, for example, to do video reviews of new casinos. I also think some affiliates have started to make great success stories in new markets like India, but culturally there are large differences in how users interact with pages and choose a brand, so learning how to localise the experience is also a great goal to have. I touched on this earlier, but I really think that creating fake ‘star’ reviews to rate brands is old fashioned and does more harm than good to your site’s reputation these days. I’d avoid this definitely.