Mary Ivanova on nurturing affiliate programs
| By Josephine Watson
Why is it important to add new products to affiliate programs? Mary Ivanova: At 7StarsPartners our leading casino and sportsbook affiliate program comprises 14 brands under three licences: Curacao, MGA and SGA. The partnership’s foundational goal is to create a product range of unrivalled quality. The program has gone from strength to strength since its inception four years ago, recently reaching the impressive milestone of 4,000 global partners. As one of the industry’s leading affiliate programs, we have rolled out a consistent stream of premium quality content. 2019 enriched our market-leading affiliate program with the launch of four innovative brands, including the popular online casinos (Wazamba and Nomini) as well as two sportsbook and casino sites (ZulaBet and Rabona). One advantage of using an affiliate program is the capability to offer a range of high-quality brands under the same umbrella. Every brand added to our partnership brings a fresh set of unique features. Rabona, for example, boasts an advanced, in-built gamification tool which allows users to collect cards featuring football stars with cutting-edge proprietary technology and striking design. What challenges do affiliate programs face when entering new markets? MI: In addition to our exciting product launches, 7StarsPartners has a promising string of market entries in the pipeline. We’re gearing up to make our debut in Japan, Sweden, India and New Zealand, as well as a wealth of Latin American markets in the near future. Of course, every new territory brings with it its own distinct challenges, and we do not believe in a ‘one size fits all’ approach. We have a dedicated research team on hand to report on the particularities of a potential new market and always consult closely with affiliate partners before working in a new region. Our expansion plans are also subject to a rigorous set of internal processes. These involve everything from building a comprehensive affiliate database from the ground up, to detailed analysis of the best way to monetise digital traffic. Being thorough, however, doesn’t mean we can’t be bold, and 7StarsPartners is proud to lead the industry when it comes to discovering exciting new opportunities. How has brand awareness helped 7StarsPartners attract affiliates while international events are postponed? MI: Affiliate conventions across the board have faced postponement and cancellation, due to the current situation, but our sign-ups and traffic have increased significantly. Years of consistent operational excellence have earned us a deserved reputation as a trusted affiliate partner. The affiliate community is fairly close-knit, so a strong image is crucial to attracting new partners. We’re also a highly versatile company that adapts rapidly to changing circumstances, so we’ve showcased a blockbuster product range at the digital trade shows that are now commonplace. Why have some top affiliate programs stopped working with new affiliates during quarantine? MI: There’s no question that today’s commercial environment is both volatile and unpredictable. It’s no secret that some of igaming’s largest businesses have had to scale back their workforce, and the affiliate sector is no exception. Some companies have taken a step back in response to the pandemic by cutting back on marketing and acquisition. 7StarsPartners, though, has moved in the opposite direction. We have proactively stepped up to the plate with a promising succession of market entries, brand launches and new partnerships. The situation is unprecedented, but we’ve continued to deliver on our ambitious commercial plans. How do you envisage the affiliate sector developing with the current postponement of events? MI: Current circumstances will necessitate significant changes across our industry, but we shouldn’t be afraid of that. The absence of face-to-face networking opportunities makes it more difficult to build new commercial relationships, but today’s technology offers a wealth of alternatives. We’ve held meetings on Skype and Zoom, finalising an exciting string of major agreements. In spite of the new restrictions, 7StarsPartners has continued to communicate closely with new and existing partners and we look forward to catching up with our affiliates in-person when it becomes safe to do so. What changes do you see for future live events with many now having been successfully conducted remotely? MI: It’s difficult to compare live events with virtual ones. The current situation isn’t permanent, but it’s vital to bring trade shows online where possible. We all miss the live conferences, such as LAC, that have long been a mainstay of our industry, but we welcome the flexibility demonstrated by those creating an innovative digital alternative. For example, we were delighted to promote the 7StarsPartners brand at AffiliateCon 2020 and applaud the initiative taken by its organisers. This article is sponsored by 7StarsPartners.