The Affiliate Life: Being an Affiliate – it’s the hardest part!

The Affiliate Life

So it’s time to try and be an affiliate, which I talked about in my last episode and my word it’s been frustrating. I’ve built a website, my traffic is growing, but I need to transition that into some form of income. When it comes to creating relationships with each of the sportsbooks it’s been one of the most challenging processes in this overall project.

I once had affiliate accounts with the majority of sportsbook operators, this was during my past days running blackhat affiliate blog networks. These worked wonders back in the day, but I was playing with fire trying to do things on the cheap – I knew full well I’d be penalised by Google at some point, my tactics were so disgustingly arrogant that Google sent my PBNs packing to the nether worlds of Lycos and Ask Jeeves and even they refused to rank my sites.

There was no real point cleaning those sites up, my approach back then was how many links I could get per day and my daily measurements were scaled per thousand! So you can imagine that when the traffic dried up, so did the FTDs. Eventually there was an integrity kull in our industry around 2016-17 if I recall and operators started to sanitise their affiliate partner lists and I was duly removed from most – so in most cases that was the lifetime revenue share gone as well.

Why personal relationships matter

Over the last couple months I’ve registered with a number of operator brands and I was shocked to realise the process has not changed one bit. Modern website owners and online businesses will often talk about innovation, improvement, refinement. Any consumer or client facing operation should always look to improve consumer satisfaction, yet to my dismay, we’ve still got the same long registration forms asking us to fill our MSN contact info, my bank’s physical address (even though its online) and confirm my company tax details all in one page – which inevitably times out almost every time I scramble to get my details off another tab and copy into the magnitude of input fields.

Affiliate managers listen up…

For what it’s worth, I’d rather go through the account approval process first, before handing over my business history, or at least fill this out in bitesize chunks that don’t timeout every 2 minutes. The process highlights an unwillingness to improve the affiliate onboarding process, which really hasn’t changed in nearly 10 years!! I may be wrong, but for me it evidences a lack of respect once again for the affiliate marketer, with no attention to detail, no willingness to consider how we can do this better.

What’s past is past – lets start again anew

I know there’s clearly now a sense of nervousness around our affiliate world. The impact of tighter regulations has reduced the free flow of new players to a more modest drip. A lot of that is down to the way in which operators partner with lead generation companies.

For me there’s a big difference between my former blackhat dealings to acquire authentic Google traffic and affiliates that used more deplorable methods to acquire new player leads. I feel however that we are all lumped into the same bucket and have seemingly been blamed for the demise of good affiliate reputation. So I’m pointing the finger firmly at the operator! I have heard countless remarks over the years of affiliates cheating, selling on fake traffic, fabricating FTDs and that we’re generally “a bad bunch”.

As an operator, YOU were responsible for your partners, YOU pick your partners and YOU should work with them responsibly. I believe there was a general period of negligence on both sides, where every single application was accepted without a credible review and without a clear strategy to verify the integrity of new partner and now operators are so apprehensive they’re overcompensating with excessive culling- hence the difficulty I’m finding myself in right now to get my site kicked off!

Here’s what I’m currently dealing with:

I’ve had one decline already from a sportsbook citing that my site didn’t have any affiliate banners on it, so they couldn’t tell how I was going to generate traffic for them. (Side note: excessive Banners get your site penalised clearly this person didn’t know anything about SEO!!!) 

“Deep breath, please someone hold my beer whilst I gasp in dismay”.

That’s not negligence, that’s incompetence from those verifying the potential of my site! I might be biased here, but I’m evidently an iGaming site, I have data on specific betting markets – it’s pretty darn obvious that I have potential to advertise sportsbook services!

Shame on you – Affiliate Manager! 

(Have you tried signing up for Lee-Ann’s AMPP course? :)) 

Clearly a big contributing factor in this issue is, it’s a little more difficult to talk to the decision makers right now, given that we are confined to virtual conferencing for the foreseeable. I’m confident that face to face meets would have helped fast track my application processes and I would have gladly invited affiliate managers to openly view my analytics data.

But here we are, we all have to accept life is a little more challenging right now.

I’ll stand by my opinion that little has been done to improve the application processes for affiliates, but I accept right now – I’m not going to be at the top of their “people to speak to today” lists.

So moving on, I’ve loaded up a footer modal on my site with some standard welcome offer ads. I’ve managed to partner with 3 operators so far, I’ve got accounts pending with all the others and will be reaching out for contacts very soon – so watch this space!

The majority of traffic comes through mobile at around 80%, so I have to be sparing with the use of real estate. The modern visitor has a low tolerance for interruptions and whilst more established sites have the luxury of preserving customer loyalty through brand affinity over user experience, I’m a new website, so it’s in my best interest (and yours) not to aggravate my visitors.

With that said, the initial signs are there that this footer only approach seems to be working. I can advertise the same message on every page or tailor it if needs be and if the message is strong enough, the visitor will click to see what’s there. I’m averaging around 100 clicks per day now on a button reading “Check Out These Free Bets” – Classic!!!! You must be thinking what a genius!

Button clicks are growing….

The Affiliate Life

How does it work:

The button opens a modal, which is a unique experience independent of the main site. That functions like an app would to a mobile user, so you can create a mini environment in which you encourage the visitors to explore more. So that decision is up to the visitor, they’re not forced to bypass banners every 300px of scrolls and I’m not popping up intrusive interstitials. The exploration of my ad content is available discreetly but visible on every page. I’m inviting the reader to explore betting deals in a microenvironment that doesn’t disrupt their main reason for visiting my site.

My goal right now and for a long while will be happy football researchers, I have ads, but I’m not disrupting their flow. I would rather 30,000 happy visitors sharing their experience of a good website a month, over 20 FTDs from a forced ad experience. For those wondering about the FTDs… I’ve got 2 FTDs – crack open the champs, I’m off to check out villas in Marbella!

Now that I’ve flexed my affiliate muscles, we can start to talk about the progress of monetising the site… more of that to come in my next edition!

But for now, Merry Christmas from me and the team at AffiliateINSIDER who have graciously offered the platform for me to talk about this journey.

And ….

Take a leaf out of our own iGaming values over this christmas period, have fun, but please  – be responsible!

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