This is an article that Lee-Ann Johnstone wrote for EI Industry News magazine, a monthly publication put together by Eventus International. You can read it on pages 23-24 here.
Affiliate Marketing Innovations and Trends in the Gaming Businesses
As with other areas of digital marketing, there are many trends and innovations that are coming into this new world; as market forces change, we move forward into a new recession and affiliate M&A speeds up.
There is no denying that the industry is changing fast. If you are searching for new trends and tools that can help you keep ahead of the curve, here are five areas you should consider looking into as part of your channel development and ongoing innovation process:
1. Upgrade your automation tools for better regulation and affiliate monitoring
Regulation is becoming harder throughout the industry. More governments and regulatory bodies are introducing stricter rules and you need to be able to meet these demands head-on. There are lots of new tools (such as Engage, wag.io or even Publisher Discovery etc.) on the market that can help you keep track of how your affiliates are promoting you.
There are also new KYC and Player Verification tools that exist to help affiliates qualify traffic prior to sending it to operator sites (1account.com). With data becoming more accessible, and automation and AI tools now being developed to help monitor these changes, affiliate programmes should be able to relax on quotas and limiting management and commercial behaviours, enabling affiliates to really engage more and help brands grow.
2. Become customer-centric and develop your affiliate culture
I’m seeing affiliate programme management slowly become a lot more customer-centric. Customer culture and values are spilling out from just being applied to customers and VIPs. Affiliate managers are using these tactics to actively manage their affiliate relationships and keep partners engaged longer-term. Ideally, your customer culture should carry through every aspect of your business and extend into your affiliate programme too.
There are many tools and tactics that can be used to further shape and drive engagement. You also need to ensure that steps are taken to continue building brand loyalty and ensure that your affiliates are working together cohesively. Your affiliates are conduit to your customers and their marketing is a key part of your customer service, acting as as brand ambassadors too.
Treating them more like marketing partners and less like suppliers in your acquisition chain will get you more value and loyalty, too. They should be engaged, cultivated and educated to your corporate structure – in the same manner that you would do with any VIP customer.
3. Diversify your traffic sources
It is incredibly important that you vary your traffic sources. Make sure to push traffic and native networks as much as you can. There is a lot of potential emerging through networks like this, and other channels like the App Store. Programmes that rely on SEO and content-based affiliates too heavily are going to be missing out on new and alternative traffic sources.
As influencer-based marketing rises, affiliates are looking at other ways to engage audiences. Streaming sites are becoming more popular and affiliates are pioneering ads that engage differentiated online audiences.
4. Adapt your commission terms
How do you pay your affiliates at the moment? They do a lot more than simply build audiences. They can also advertise with traffic sources that concentrate on straight CPC. They then retarget following analysis and optimisation of data gained through streams like Google and Facebook.
You need to think about your current paid media channels and how this can impact your budget and player attributions. It might be a good idea to change the way you remunerate your affiliates, depending on the traffic they bring you. Why trap them in a CPA or revenue share model when there could be a more effective and lucrative way to pay for performance? Take a look at your current models and consider setting up a custom hybrid scheme that could suit both you and your individual affiliates.
5. Embrace AI technology
Artificial intelligence has made leaps and bounds. There are many tools out there that could save you time, while also improving productivity. Finding free or cost-effective AI tools could be just the innovation you need to improve your current affiliate marketing schemes.
Tools like Article Forge, which creates reasonable content using AI technology, could help to save you time by creating blog posts that engage affiliates or customers online.
Look at tools that exist for interaction and retention, too. Gamification is another area to invest in for your affiliate programme performance boost. To scale in this day and age, you need programmes that can grow your brand faster and reach wider-than-ever-before. Finding the right affiliate technology, plug-ins and platforms for your teams to use will be key here. This is where AI can step in.
Never be afraid to try out some new tech resources. This is especially true given the current global situation. The longer we remain working in our teams remotely, the more we should look into AI tools and solutions to help us out.
A focus on the future
Though it might seem like an uphill battle to constantly keep ahead of innovation in affiliate marketing, it is already taking place and leaping forward. You’ll have to keep up to avoid missing out.