Income Access’ data reveals that as much as a third of a brand’s player acquisitions can be driven by the iGaming affiliate channel – but only when a programme is optimised.
The launch phase is key to programme optimisation. Here we explain how new programmes can maximise their results from the very beginning.
You will have identified your offering’s market niche and unique selling point (USP) at the beginning of your brand development. Given that your USP will determine whether or not you’ll stand out above the competition, it will be an integral element in all marketing campaigns, including your affiliate programme.
Your USP and brand messaging needs to not only drive the development of your affiliate ad campaigns, it also needs to be communicated effectively on your affiliate site and as part of your affiliate recruitment process. After all, even if affiliates have your banner ads and marketing materials, if they aren’t really well-briefed on what makes your brand special, how can they effectively promote it?
As well as your USP and brand messaging, the choice of commission structure is vital in the development of a new affiliate programme. An enticing commission structure will prove highly-effective for affiliate recruitment, so flexibility is key.
Affiliate managers’ approach should be very broad-based when it comes to commissions. Each model has its own advantages.
The cost per acquisition (CPA) model’s up-front payments are enticing for affiliates in the short-term, given that they receive a fee for every player.
Meanwhile, revenue share (either flat or tiered) attracts affiliates due to its higher earning potential over the long-term. After all, even after affiliates convert a player, they get to earn money over the player’s lifetime with the brand.
The hybrid model, combining CPA elements with rev share, is the best of both worlds for affiliates. Unsurprisingly, it tends to be the most popular model with them. Its flexibility, which strongly supports affiliate recruitment, is definitely an approach brands should consider.
Beyond the default commission structure, brands can also consider flat fee deals with affiliates. Although expensive, they’re a way of recruiting big-name affiliates with major reach and established and tested relationships with players.
Of course, bespoke deals also open the door to major affiliates who have significant reach and will drive major conversions for you.
Negotiating with multiple affiliates is a must, and brushing up on these skills will help to secure a better deal. It’s easier to come to an agreement when there’s a mutual understanding of one another.
Integrating your programme with an affiliate network pre-launch is highly recommended, as it’ll drastically increase your pool of potential marketing partners. It also cuts much of the middle work out of affiliate recruitment, such as searching for potential partners through your affiliate managers’ contacts.
When sourcing an affiliate network to join, research its membership – not only the number of affiliate members, but how well your brand’s vertical (e.g. sportsbook or iLottery) is represented for segmented recruitment.
When your programme goes live, it’s important that it starts with a bang and you recruit as many affiliates as possible. An effective approach is to offer a promotional commission structure. This could be a higher revenue share or CPA for a limited period (say, the affiliate’s first one to three months promoting) or even offer affiliates another incentive like a prize. You can also complement your affiliate promos with a strong player promotion for your first affiliate campaign.
Communicating the programme launch effectively is also vital. Press releases to the iGaming industry and affiliate media will help ensure your programme is on affiliates’ radars. If you’ve integrated your programme with an affiliate network, engaging mailers to the network will drive affiliate recruitment. If you choose not to invest in an affiliate network, you can still develop mass-mailers to your affiliate managers’ database of affiliate contacts.
As well as mailers and PRs, heads-up posts in iGaming affiliate forums such as GPWA, which has a huge readership among affiliates, are a great means of targeted recruitment.
You can coordinate third-party launch communications with organic and promoted social media posts on your social media accounts.
As well as posting on their main social media accounts, some brands have also set up Twitter handles dedicated purely to their affiliate programmes.
Affiliate programmes normally take around six months to build results. You should therefore complement the channel with other digital marketing methods, such as PPC and ongoing paid social ads. Doing so will help your programme grow more quickly.
During the first few months, we recommend spending over 80% of your time on-boarding and recruiting affiliates. Six months after launch, you should evaluate the state of your affiliate programme – overall revenue, number of affiliates registered and active – and decide whether to launch a second major affiliate recruitment push with an accompanying affiliate promo, if results have underwhelmed your expectations.
You will also focus on reactivating inactive affiliates, and working with them to increase their conversions and both your and the affiliate’s revenue. The post-launch phase can also be a good time to discuss and re-negotiate existing deals. If certain affiliates are performing well, you might wish to offer them a bespoke commission structure and further strengthen your business relationship.
The launch phase is key to your programme’s success. You should try to strike affiliate deals early on, while also communicating your launch clearly and across a variety of platforms. After six months, you should assess what’s going well and areas for improvement. In the long-term, continuing to keep both your players and affiliates engaged and active will result in more revenue and brand growth.