Affiliate Strategy: Planning for success

When affiliate marketing is used correctly as part of your marketing mix, it can be incredibly powerful. When you get it wrong it can have disastrous impacts to your margins, your relationships and your business growth.
Ahead of my Affiliate MasterClass next week in New Jersey, I wanted to discuss why affiliate strategy is so important for your program growth and how to go about planning effectively to build your brand reach using affiliates as key partners in your acquisition strategy.
You need to build strong & think clever.
The image above shows two cars made out of the same kit of building bricks. The cars look very different. They also function differently too. For a start,  the second one has the steering wheel at the back and no sides to keep the driver safe.  
The car is your affiliate program. You’ll see that even though both cars can operate , one is going to be slow. It probably won’t have good corner steering and will be harder to win the race in it.
So what can you do to make sure your affiliate program is a margin crushing , race winning, revenue racing machine? 

  1. Know your Product

The first thing you need to do is know your product. Understand it inside out. Get an idea as to what competitors with a similar product are doing around you.  You also need to be aware of any challenges you may face with your brand and targeting.  For example, are you a part of a white label solution? Will you have different margins to content with? Are there limitations on being in the same network? Are you limited in pushing similar player offers? Does your license restrict you from targeting certain locations? 
You need take all of these things into consideration when planning your program commercials and your competitive marketing strategy.

2. Create a clear Niche

Once you have a good look at what your competitors are doing, you will have an idea what you can do differently.  In order to make an impact, you need to stand out from the crowd and make yourself more attractive to affiliates as a marketing partner.  This could be anything from hosting a promotion that players won’t find anywhere else, to being innovative with your incentivisation and rewards plan.  In an oversaturated or regulated market, you need to work hard to make your voice heard which means it is essential that you keep up to date with new digital marketing opportunities.

3. Match your technology to your plan

Affiliate tracking is now quite advanced. It means we now have a wealth of data in our hands and can accumulate data from multiple channels. Attribution can impact your margins, but how do you measure the result that an affiliate is driving in your overall acquisition strategy. Your technology also dictates exactly how you can incentivise and negotiate deals. Having a better choice and variety could set you apart from other programs. You should also consider things like scalability and management tools – as your program grows and partners increase how can the system help you with automation and segmentation. How does it help you with compliance, and media management in regulated states as an example. Tracking must provide detail, so that you can monitor in near real time and continuously analyse the results.  

4. Get the Right People Around you

Skills and expertise are critical to creating an affiliate strategy that will drive revenue.  If you don’t have the skills in-house, then you may want to find a mentor in the industry or an expert who has experience setting up complex strategies. It can literally save you time and money just by getting it right the first time. Although competitive, iGaming is quite a close-knit industry where people genuinely like to learn and help one another.  An outside influence can help you and your team to see things with an objective perspective and overcome obstacles to successful outcomes. Buying strategic planning gives you insights to how other businesses work, and can help you define the right plan.  

5. Invest in training

iGaming is a fast changing sector, as is digital marketing – and it is vital that you continue to keep abreast with the latest trends in the affiliate channel to create an effective affiliate marketing strategy.  Compliance has been a significant factor in 2018/19, as has the likes of GDPR, and stricture regulations so it’s your responsibility to be aware of this and to ensure your front line teams are being supported to develop and grow and learn.  There are lots of industry events where you can continuously upskill, as well as publications with excellent materials and interviews with industry experts.  Invest in your learning, and keep ahead of innovation it’s the only way you can continue to keep ahead of the curve. 
Planning is everything when it comes to building a successful affiliate strategy and we’re here to help ensure you don’t miss a step out of this vital process. If you haven’t registered yet for the Betting on Sports Conference do so here. You’ll need to register your interest to attend the MasterClass as well.

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