While there are different ways to promote an online casino, affiliate marketing has deserved its status of the most effective. Of course SEO, PPC, media advertising, exhibitions and other offline activities should also be part of the bigger strategy (after all diversity always increases your chances of success) — but if we compare investments and outcome, affiliate marketing often wins the ROI competition. Let’s have a deeper insight into who affiliates are, what benefits they bring to an online gaming business, and how you can make the best use of affiliate partnerships.
Who are affiliates?
Affiliates are people who use their websites to bring traffic to your online casino. While for other industries it may differ, in online gaming affiliates are quite often players themselves. They usually have vast experience as casino users and run blogs or do live streaming to share their gaming experience with other players. Sometimes casino affiliates have experience in online casino operation and know the other side of the business, too. In any case affiliates (or professional affiliate companies) are not strangers in the world of iGaming and know its ins and outs.
By providing truthful information on various online casinos available on the market and sharing gambling tips and tricks, affiliates gain trust among players and manage to attract significant audience to their websites. With skilful SEO, link building and use of online forums, they manage to achieve high rankings in search engines. Once that’s done, affiliate websites are ready for monetization: they start referring traffic to online casino operators.
What do they do to promote an online casino?
Affiliates deliver referral traffic to online casinos by placing links and banners on their own websites. Sometimes they use banners that call for direct action, e.g. to register or make a deposit in a particular casino. The important thing is that casino affiliates bring super relevant traffic with higher rates of conversion into depositing players.
Affiliate websites have one thing in common: they all contain really useful information, such as iGaming guides and online casino rankings, so they attract users who search for the best casino to play at and actually do play after following the link. However, they may differ in general approach. There are portal-like affiliate websites such as AskGamblers or LCB that target a wide audience and cover everything related to online gambling. Then there are more niche websites that specialise, for instance, in casinos licensed in the UK or Bitcoin-focused casinos — like BitcoinBuster or Bitcoin Chaser.
What do they get in return?
Affiliates get paid for the traffic they bring to casino websites. There are several different models of rewarding the affiliates.
With this model, affiliates get a percentage of the casino’s net revenue generated by referred players. Many affiliates prefer this model because it means long-time (often life-long) income. For operators it is also a good option because affiliates are motivated to bring quality players who would constantly generate revenue for the casino. The percentage that you pay to an affiliate varies. Most casino operators use an individual approach. Some appreciated and trusted partners get up to 50% commission with no negative carryover.
2) CPA (cost per action).
This is a model where a casino offers a fixed rate for every player. It can be a reward just for registration, but most often the player needs to deposit and/or wager a certain amount for the affiliate to be paid. Casino operators can be flexible about the rate, increasing it while the number of players referred by the affiliate grows.
3) Mixed models.
As already mentioned, casino operators often apply customized approaches to high-profile affiliates. For example, they can offer a combination of revenue share model and CPA, or even negotiate certain upfront payments together with long-term participation in the casino revenue. The more flexible you get in your relationship with the affiliates, the better network you will be able to grow and the more chances you will have to profit from these win-win partnerships.
Why is affiliate marketing effective?
There are several unarguable advantages that affiliate marketing has over other methods of online casino promotion:
Payment based on performance. It is always easier to pay for something that you already have rather than make an upfront investment without any guarantees on the result. Affiliate marketing is totally focused on performance and therefore guarantees high ROI. Even when the CPA or commission paid to an affiliate is high, you know that your revenue is higher. You get 100% relevant traffic that is converted into real sales.
Measurable progress. “When I’m investing a significant amount into certain marketing activities, how do I know which one is effective?” You can build a posh stand and bring half of your company to a gaming conference or you can buy heaps of advertising articles in the media, but how do you know exactly how many players come to your casino as a result? With affiliate marketing, you can calculate and compare the amount invested and the amount earned up to a single cent, thus getting a clear picture of your returns.
Simple tracking. If you are using an effective affiliate system (online casino software usually has an affiliate module which facilitates easy management of their affiliate programs), it allows to evaluate the performance of different affiliates. You can even see how your casino is doing on different affiliate websites. You can use this info for better analysis of what ads and banners work best for you and adjust your affiliate program accordingly.
Reputation and online presence. Since successful affiliates usually have good reputation in the world of iGaming, being advertised on their websites adds to your casino fame and credibility. It helps to strengthen the brand and make a long-lasting impression on the people in your industry.
How to meet the right affiliates?
There are several ways of making long-lasting partnerships with affiliates.
Place information about your affiliate program in media resources devoted to iGaming. There are those which make listings of the most lucrative affiliate offerings, so try to advertise your affiliate program and make it attractive to prospective affiliates.
Visit specialized exhibitions and affiliate conferences. There are several affiliate conferences going in different parts of the world throughout the year, the most famous ones taking place in London, Berlin, Amsterdam, Malta. Affiliates visit these conferences to share their experience, learn news on the iGaming legislation, acquire knowledge on new techniques in their business, but also to make new deals with casino operators. That’s your chance.
Word of mouth. The more people you know in the industry, the easier it is to expand your affiliate network.
How to find the right affiliate marketing platform?
Having a solid technological solution is important for effective affiliate marketing. The affiliate software should be convenient and clear not only for the operator, but also for the affiliates. There are several stand-alone software solutions for affiliate management on the market which can be integrated into the online casino software that you are using. It is also possible to develop your own system according to your specific needs.
Perhaps the most viable option, though, is to choose a software platform which already has an affiliate module that meets industry standards and corresponds to your needs. Companies which provide online casino software usually build the flexible and easy-to-use affiliate systems taking into account their clients’ expertise and preferences. They are motivated to provide an effective tool within their platforms that helps operators achieve maximum results with their affiliate marketing strategies.
All in all, think about marketing already when choosing a gaming platform, and make sure you have your software provider on your side. Online gambling is quite a peculiar industry which heavily depends on a variety of external factors, such as government regulation, banking and financial issues — that’s why finding an effective marketing strategy is not as evident here as in many other business domains. With many traditional means of promotion being unavailable due to legislation constraints, affiliate marketing has proved one of the most reliable and transparent methods to push your iGaming website to the top and boost your profits.