Affiliate marketing is one of the popular modern trends in business, employing millions of people around the globe. For online casinos, it is an undeniably effective source of new clients, which bring money to gambling venues. Multiple restrictions are imposed on online and/or offline gambling businesses in various geos. In many countries and regions, the limits are introduced by Google’s strict rules of promotion, as well as legal, financial, and banking restrictions or bans. So, affiliate marketing in some geos becomes the only or the biggest source of inflow of clients to online casinos.
In this article, we’re looking at some effective affiliate marketing strategies for online casinos. We begin with the notion of affiliate marketing and the importance of the choice of the right affiliate platform. Then we browse why and how to build strong partnerships with affiliates (via good offers to them and transparent cooperation conditions), and how affiliate marketing campaigns shall be monitored.
After becoming acquainted with this article, you will familiarize yourself with the most effective affiliate marketing strategies for online casinos. And we don’t think that we need additionally emphasize the importance of having powerful affiliate marketing strategies for your online casino because you know yourself that it allows gaining motivated, highly interested, money-having ‘hot’ clients, who want to spend their money at your venue. And it’s ridiculous to presume you wouldn’t want that.
Understanding Affiliate Marketing
The nature of any affiliate marketing is promoting a product or service of some company by a third party, which is not linked to this company directly but is interested in getting paid for the sales that are generated by such promotion. In other words, a natural person or a business entity spends their time, efforts, know-how, and money to promote a piece that would be then sold to some client for money and a part of this money goes to the promoter, a.k.a. affiliate. Affiliates earn a share of the cost of the product/service or get a fixed price per each instance of a successful sale.
Online gambling (casino and betting) has its own features of such scheme. It has long-established models of remuneration paid to affiliates for bringing clients:
- CPA. This stands for “Cost Per Action”, where action indeed can be of different nature, depending on the business model of a particular casino. For instance, a successfully completed action may be the registration of a new gambler on a casino’s website, making a deposit of X amount or higher, fulfilling the client profile (questionnaire), wagering their deposited money for X times, or making X sum of bets in total. The action is remunerated per client by a fixed price. By the way, rewarding affiliates for the people they brought who make deposits is also called on the market the FTD model (First-Time Depositors), which is sometimes considered a standalone affiliate model.
- CPL. Stands for “Cost Per Lead”. It is usually when a prospect fills up a form anywhere, leaving their contact data. Since the nature of such a prospect is cold or warm and it does not necessarily convert into a client who brings real money to a casino’s balance, paying via a CPL model is not a popular endeavor in most online casinos today. But, when used, it also pays a fixed price.
- Revenue Share (a.k.a. RevShare). It is a percentage of all client losses in the casino per period. This is the most interesting and lucrative model of cooperation both for affiliates and casinos. It is so because affiliates are paid not a fixed sum but money that’s not capped with anything but client losses (which can be huge) and can last for as long as the client keeps playing and losing. And for casinos, it is financially interesting because they assuredly have a gambler who brings them money and only reward a share of that money to someone who brought this guy. It is basically a win-win situation for both parties (that’s why it’s so popular).
- Hybrid deals. They are a combination of RevShare + anything other of the above.
When an online casino shapes up the right affiliate program, making it truly interesting for affiliates around the world, the inflow of new clients, which are generated by such a program can overcome (sometimes, significantly) the total inflow of clients via other channels of attractions (such as SMM, SEO, banners, email marketing, and other advertising, including offline). However, it would be impractical to assert that these channels are not important and that as soon as a casino establishes an effective affiliate marketing strategy for online casinos, other channels should be abandoned — no, rather, they are great sources of new clients in the long run and are definitely a must for large gambling venues and their mother corporations.
Choosing the Right Affiliate Platform
Launching a new casino on the Internet, it is highly advisable to ponder at the launch stage the issue of which affiliate marketing strategy for online casinos is the most effective, in particular, for your casino in the given geo and for the target audiences. Together with the launch, it is a great solution to have casino software, which is already tuned to be connectable to affiliate marketing software — thus, you make sure that all important data will smoothly be transferred between the two systems automatically whenever necessary.
That’s why we strongly recommend that at the stage of choice of a proper piece of software for your new online casino, you keep in mind the connectivity to the software of the market players. Hence, you shall first pick one of the affiliate market leaders and see what they can offer you — maybe they already have the right software, which has great connectivity and compatibility with their platforms. But even if you decide to jump into affiliate marketing when your casino or other venue has been operating for a while — that’s okay, too. A lot of gambling venues start this after having worked one or several years, to boost their businesses effectively.
To give you a powerful starting point, consider those market leaders:
They all differ in the geos they accept, features of their programs, affiliate opportunities and strengths, and other peculiarities. Also, some do not work in your geo. That’s why we won’t focus now on these in detail in this article — visit their websites to find out more.
The basics, which you must be interested in in terms of affiliate marketing, are as follows:
- Tracking the inflow of clients to monitor the effectiveness of the work of affiliates
- Tracking the financial performance of clients within the gaming venue
- Setting up and changing commission models and sizes
- Online and offline reporting
- A list of payment methods
- Crypto solutions
- Clearance between the casino and affiliates.
Building Strong Partnerships
After you deal with all the prior aspects of the affiliate marketing setup (which are rather technical issues of the process), you have to focus on building partnerships with your affiliates (a part with a strong human touch). Basically, this is number one on your practical guide to effective affiliate marketing strategies for online casinos. We mean your program has to be interesting for your partners in terms of the remuneration offer, its tiers, timely payments, and other characteristics.
Within a serious process of affiliate marketing, the first step is setting up a manager on the side of an online casino, which will be responsible for affiliate relations: searching for new ones, contacts & contracts, answering their questions, solving issues, and doing negotiations.
After you will have connected your gambling, reporting, and affiliate software pieces into a working node, maintaining transparency and consistency with your partners is key to having a strong and lasting partnership.
Ideally, you require a lot of affiliates, not closing this door to any individual or company, who’d like to earn a living by bringing you new gamblers. Since your casino may work in different markets & niches and offer a unique set of products, which is more relevant to some audiences than others, you will need the services of many affiliate partners, which specialize in a certain niche, activity, or geo. They may also offer the inflow of new clients to your casino through different channels, such as:
- Email marketing
- Thematic websites (particularly, social media websites)
- Streaming (like Twitch) and others.
For instance, affiliate work and geos in sports betting aren’t the same as in pure casino games. So make sure you attract all interested affiliate partners into your network, not denying people without at least first considering them.
Offering Competitive Commission Structures
To embrace as many affiliates as possible, you have to come up with a broad net of your affiliate marketing offer. Namely — the most effective affiliate marketing strategy for online casinos usually has different conditions for:
- Large affiliates, which are companies that solely focus on this type of business and have immense experience and client-bringing capabilities. Since these big dudes can generate right from the start thousands and even hundreds of thousands of new clients, their rates are high; yet, their efficacy is high as well. You must definitely focus on creating the best conditions for these fellows because they will easily be the locomotives of your business thriving.
- Small and micro affiliates, which are individuals, like bloggers/vloggers and beginners, who can generate small numbers of new clients (hundreds per month at most). Although you shall not ignore these guys or treat them condescendingly, your remuneration offer to them shan’t be as large as for both previous and next types of affiliates.
- Popular influencers. These guys are very well-known individuals, who made their household names in various social media (including Facebook, Twitch, TikTok, YouTube, Instagram, WeChat, and others). Thanks to hundreds of thousands or even millions of followers, they have a huge potential of giving you a nice inflow of clients. Although you shall select those guys, which are influencers in the field that you need (otherwise, your prospects won’t be your target category). These influencers must be rewarded really nicely (usually, through RevShare or Hybrid models).
You can find all three categories of affiliates online and offline to offer to cooperate with your business, the same as they can find your affiliate program, offering their services. You should go with both options.
What kind of remuneration can you offer to make your affiliate marketing strategy for online casinos most effective? Let’s take a glance at a few examples:
- Tiered CPA. For instance, you decide to pay for each new client’s deposit as an “action”. You can go with a percentage or flat fee (or even their combination). Let’s say, you will pay depending on how many clients an affiliate partner has attracted to you per month. You can start with 10% of the deposit for 1-10 clients a month, gradually increasing it as more attracted guys there are. For 20 new depositors, the percentage could grow to 12%. For 50 — to 14%. For 100-200 — to 20%, etc. The same goes for a flat fee. Thus, it can be $5/$10/$20/$50, etc. But if you do opt for a flat fee, then the deposits they make shall start with X sum to avoid you paying for your own loss and exclude possible fraud.
- RevShare. The same approach goes for Revenue Share — you should do tiers depending on how many attracted players an affiliate has per month.
- Negative carryover. That’s a notion, which is applied to the payments to your affiliates when a player they brought starts to win more than he or she lost. The sum of negative financial results (for a casino) can be deducted from an affiliate’s payment in full or partially. If you deduct in full (until the losses are repaid by the affiliate who brought such a lousy client), this means, you do charge the negative carryover. If you only deduct in the month of the clearance and start over with a blank sheet the next month, this means, you do not have a negative carryover. Some casinos choose not to apply the negative carryover at all, not deducting anything at all — for their most precious and client-giving affiliate partners.
Bear in mind that the levels of remuneration should differ for small affiliates, large affiliates, and influencers (which can also be small or large), depending on their input and agreed-upon terms and obligations. Some largest affiliate networks, companies, and influencers may charge you extra for their services. So, in order to be able to even enter their business workflow, some casinos may pay from hundreds of dollars to millions of dollars as an entry fee. But even the biggest investments tend to effectively recoup in a reasonable amount of time.
A piece of good advice here would be to make your remuneration levels better and more alluring to your potential affiliates than other casinos out there offer (if you want to enter the market effectively and abruptly). To do that, you shall first analyze what your direct and closest competitors offer in their programs and use this information to shape up your own most effective affiliate marketing strategy for online casinos.
Providing Marketing Resources and Tools
To effectively work under an affiliate program, a casino absolutely needs to provide its partners with reliable, up-to-date, and online information. Having everything on the tips of their fingers, partners will know what efforts and channels of bringing clients work, to what extent, and which do not. They will also be capable of monitoring their earnings.
The basic tool for providing such information is the back-office software of the casino itself, which is integrated with the software of affiliate marketing programs. The latter, in turn, is connected to the user interface of the affiliate, where the dashboard with statistics is shown and automatically updated based on their affiliate links.
An important part of the promo process is having and delivering marketing materials, which are ready to use on various resources, both online and offline:
- booklets, etc.
These materials should be optimized for various screen resolutions, operating systems, devices, and kinds of websites they are to be placed on (regular info sites, landing pages, social media, video websites, etc.). It is ideal if there will be more than one option of the same piece, so an affiliate can choose what’s more to their liking (or even introduce changes themselves whenever possible). Offline materials should be well-made and printed with great polygraphy on high-q paper or another carrier.
Optimizing Affiliate Campaigns
The keystone for effective work of affiliate marketing is tracking and analyzing affiliate performance. An affiliate manager on the side of the casino shall define which of the partners work well under the rules and with what efficacy. He or she shall prevent and cut off fraud, ineffective partners, and those with constant negative carryovers. They also shall work on the improvement of the quality of the leads and be actively involved in identifying top-performing affiliates and campaigns.
One of the best promotional strategies is A/B testing for the optimization of the results of campaigns. A/B tests in each campaign will give valuable insight into what efforts in which channels work the best, what & how can be changed.
The retrieved results of all tests, efficiency estimations, and other daily work of an affiliate manager will contribute to the improvement of the effectiveness of all further campaigns. They also shall change the remuneration levels in the affiliate program over time to better balance the ROI of the entire undertaking.
Implementing Incentives and Rewards
Incentives and rewards are crucial for keeping your affiliates satisfied cooperating with you and preventing them from leaving.
You can — and should — reward your best performers with personal and unique gifts, no matter if they are shaped as money, valuable gifts, corporate parties, presents, expense payments, or something otherwise alluring. As a wise business owner knows for sure, it is always about building personal relations with the most valuable clients and partners that drive success in the long run and contribute to word of mouth. So, if someone steadily brings you an 8-digit profit each year, maybe, you should consider giving them a private jet and compensate for its yearly maintenance cost (to give you an idea — a cheeky and fast Hawker 800XPi for $4.5 million could be a fantastic option). The exact offer to contribute to the strength of your relations is up to you, depending on the income of the partner, your relationship history, and other factors.
Ensuring Transparency and Timely Payments
Nobody wants to be ripped off. So if you promise your affiliate partner certain conditions, make sure they are fair, complete, transparent, and do not contain “small text”, which makes it possible for you to change them as you wish, fooling your partner.
Thus, your program conditions must clearly and unambiguously say:
- For what exactly do you pay, how much, and with what periodicity
- What payment means and what currencies do you support
- What specifically contributes to lowering and increasing the payments
- What are the minimum sums of payment to be withdrawn, etc.?
When your transparency and client support is absolute, the desire of affiliates to join your network and keep up the good work will be high. Remember that, after all, you pay for what companions deliver you: reliable and money-having clients, who want to gamble and spend at your venue.
Tracking and Measuring Success
Last but not least thing of importance is the tracking system, which is a must. As you give each of your partners a unique ID (referral link), you have to track the clients that come to your casino with that ID. Every single unique client, who visits your website from their IP and device (as long as they don’t clear cookies), must from now on be attached to the ID of an affiliate. And as soon as such a person is registered within your casino under the referral link, tracking becomes even simpler (because now, it won’t matter whether they clean cookies or not).
A good tracking system makes it possible for an affiliate partner to monitor how many clients they got attracted, what are these clients’ revenues for them under the existing model of remuneration, and other important stats. Thus, not only do your partners know how they work and what they get in terms of money but also, which channels of client attraction work and to which extent (that is, conversion rate).
On your side — back office — thanks to ID, you will know stats on each affiliate partner, their efficiency, earnings, ROI, diligence, and other things.
Having such a comprehensive guide on affiliate marketing for an online casino, you can much better now organize this process in your venue, utilizing the strategies we’ve highlighted. Remember that implementing anything is a large chunk of any serious work but when you’re finally done, you will embrace all the advantages and power of affiliate marketing in your company!