Sportsbook Is Simpler Because of the Wider Audience, and People Tend To Conversion Psychologically: Nik Rudenko, СМО at Favbet/Favorit Sport

Sportsbook Is Simpler Because of the Wider Audience, and People Tend To Conversion Psychologically: Nik Rudenko, СМО at Favbet/Favorit Sport

Why is the work on brand loyalty enhancement so important? Why is it simpler for affiliates to promote sportsbook than casinos? These issues are revealed by Nik Rudenko, СМО at Favbet and Favorit, in an interview with Kyiv iGaming Affiliate Conference.

Read below about the importance of excellent relations between affiliates and advertisers, benefits from their close cooperation, and pitfalls on their way.

Interviewer: Kyiv iGaming Affiliate Conference (KIAC)

Respondent: Nik Rudenko (N.R.)

KIAC: What are the main principles of FavBet’s collaboration with affiliates?

N.R.: It is affiliates’ experience, industry understanding, and simple human qualities that play a critical role. It is similar to relations with soul mates having common interests and common goals. They cannot be average, they should be either excellent or pretty excellent.

The foundation is transparency, opening, and honesty. An affiliate program supposes great relations. We establish trusted contacts, backing them by experience, analytics, and tracking solutions. We desire to provide not just landing or banners but top-tier full-cycle products made with care of each pixel and each micro-conversion. The full cycle suggests three whales: Acquisition & Retention & Product.

A lot of affiliates talk to each other, and operators have no right to fall flat on face, as the next day everyone will know about this. Besides, you should realize that strong affiliates do not search for partners and do not wait until some operators contact them. Therefore, we do our best to gain a solid reputation. It is based on five crucial principles: a professional team of affiliate managers, an appropriate offer, prompt payments, a constantly advancing product, and a seamless tracking system.

KIAC: What business model of the affiliate program is the most profitable, in your opinion? Why?

N.R.: The most profitable way of working with affiliates is to use a model, which money turnover rate can provide them and, consequently, operators with a huge income.

Many things depend on the traffic type. Each traffic has its own ROI (return on investment) and PP (pay-back period). Currently, operators nearly always adapt to their affiliates in case of net traffic.

On the other hand, there is the specific nature of the product and team that plays into operator’s hands. One more significant aspect is how white the market is and how strong brand awareness operators achieve. If operators feature the strong retention and the top-tier brand, Revenue Share will be more beneficial. If the brand has a lifetime commission and the affiliate knows the average Customer Lifetime Value, it can result in the heavy link.

If affiliates specialize in cross-branding marketing, it implies the ordinary CPA traffic generation and the pass through hundreds of alike products. Everyone has their own niche, market, traffic, and features. You can adapt to all of them, thus I prefer hybrid deals. You can earn in the short and long run.

KIAC: What are the characteristics of successful casinos in 2019? What is attracting customers best of all?

N.R.: There is no single remedy for establishing successful casinos. This issue involves many areas such as product management, marketing, psychology, etc.

In the context of products, one requires a user-friendly UX, convenient registration and deposits, payments and local support. The feature is micro-conversion. A loading rate, a mobile-first product, and native design are important as well.

As to bonuses and gamification, one should always ask questions: do your clients require such a product? How complicated is gamification? Will users puzzle it out? Is there any user portrait?

People join you to play and frequently have a certain pattern, for instance, Book of Ra. In other words, what all customers need is to find their favorite game. Will the complex achievement retain them? Ask users this question.

As to patterns in verticals, I can share interesting inside information. Clients frequently change casinos and rarely change sportsbooks. It's all about psychology: if you fail to succeed in a casino, the casino is bad and fraudulent, or a trivial concept “I can't catch a break here, it’s better to try another one”. Athletes or teams that gamblers bet on are guilty in sportsbook; operators are rarely accused. It is important to realize that customers never blame themselves. The strong sportsbook and casino formula is almost always successful.

Market awareness and contact frequency do their part. A product with solid knowledge is good, a product with an enormous share of voice is even better. Marketing attracts the audience, while brands, along with skills of product managers and retention specialists, retain it.

The trend of the recent years is a narrative: marketing with the history is more efficient. A story that you tell clients sticks in memory 10 times better than a common fact. A communication strategy is of great importance. Your key message should touch a nerve, cause a response, and should not be annoying. You should examine your target audience in order to find out where it is, what affects it and encourage to conversion. Draw user portraits, try to grasp why people play, what psychological triggers exist, and how to use them properly.

To prevent clients from shifting to the other operator, you should constantly keep their interest. The old truth: it is cheaper to retain the customer than to acquire the new one. Your data will give you a clue to what is better or worse: what games are the most popular, what championships players wager on more often.

Figure out median values of all the key metrics and try to solve the problem: how to improve each metric. For example, ask your analysts how many customers leave the resource after the first unlucky casino session and think of solving the situation. If necessary, return the part of funds or offer free spins. Make your clients stay on the platform, especially after the first deposit.

KIAC: You have been an affiliate for five years. What was primarily essential for you in an affiliate program? Why?

N.R.: What matters for partners, as well as for companies, is the balance between two aspects – money plus relations. No matter what a kind person and manager you are, if the brand does not have a conversion, all that is left to do is to keep human relations.

One more significant factor is the brand honesty. Earlier, some Russian and Ukrainian companies shaved partners. Everyone knew and took it for granted. That’s wrong. It is not referred to affiliate marketing. There are a lot of ways to check operators. For instance, you can create two or three accounts and monitor affiliate program statistics.

Technical support is important as well: postbacks, creatives, feedback, and analytics. Many affiliates do not want to work on European or Asian markets (we are lazy and do not want to explore anything new if old stuff gives a solid profit). I would recommend developing not only horizontally but also vertically. Surely, partners also have to suggest offers not only in the CIS countries as well as explain what and how should be converted, what Customer Lifetime Value is required on each market, what operators have tried, and what channels are efficient.

Both parties have certain expectations, which should be discussed as honestly and transparently as possible. The availability of market localization does not mean the availability of cards or a live chat with native speakers.

KIAC: Have assessment criteria changed? What ways of attracting partners are the most efficient now? What is on trend?

N.R.: They have greatly changed in terms of relations. Earlier, the market was not so congested by affiliates and operators. The casino market consisted of 5-10 companies in each geolocation. The same situation was in sportsbook: 3-4 companies brought major profit. Nowadays, brands appear faster than new engagement channels. The whole gaming community competes for top affiliates, arranging parties, special offers, dinners, etc. for them.

New operators are treated quite skeptically. They apply dumping, providing an offer higher than the conventional one, which regularly weakens the market. However, it is a strategy and, like many others, it has legs.

Partners are assessed by their traffic and resource quality. This assessment affects attraction. It is good to have access to the resource owner, mutual acquaintances, or to know some useful information about them. If contacts are absent, people send cold letters, examine social media, attend exhibitions and conferences.

There is an uncommon practice: sharing contacts with other operators. For example, we introduce affiliates who work with us, while other operators introduce their partners. It’s ok. Affiliates usually have a rating with several dozens of operators. If the process helps both parties, it is a win-win strategy.

Top arbitrage experts can be allured by a strong brand. Attendance of conferences and affiliate parties will be especially useful. Face-to-face contacts are crucial. By the way, they will unlikely come to your stand at such events. You should catch them at networking parties.

There is the only trend: serious affiliates require high-quality 24/7 support and a skillful team that understands what affiliates do and how to help them. Talking to serious affiliates, you should not only convince them to cooperate with you but also realize that your product has to comply with certain market criteria.

References are sometimes significant as well. Here is the example of a message: “I represent the brand N cooperating with AskGamblers, and this is our rating. Austria and Germany provide the great conversion; we have the live support and the Maltese license with Pay’n’Play. We can adjust any creatives to your requests; CPA is paid twice per month.” Clearly, briefly, and factually. I hate long letters like “I am an affiliate manager at the company founded 10 years ago. Our UK-based office consists of 100 people.” No one bothers how long you have been operating on the market. You should either produce a conversion or not. I did not work with Ladbrokes on the CIS market, as they did not perform there.

KIAC: What principles should be followed when selecting gambling creatives?

N.R.: It is situational localized marketing. You should set a clear goal of placement. Technical characteristics are also important, such as a trivial weight of the creative, adaptability to devices, localization. I like operators relying on the hype. Any significant event in the country can be creatively presented. You should be aware of the target audience mindset and features, e.g. Asia appreciates live dealers and respect to traditions. The CIS countries always prefer “books” and pharaohs.

Speaking about email newsletters, the coming sports event will be the best option for betting. Casino newsletters can contain short-term special offers, for instance, play today and get 10% of cashback. The PopUnder format requires adaptive landing with a welcome offer and preferably with the one-time check-in.

A sports betting banner creative should contain the nearest matches. There is no perfect creative format. You should adjust it to market characteristics. I like landing with built-in mechanics: a bonus wheel, mini-games. Nevertheless, they frequently bring the same results as ordinary landing with game characters. A/B/N tests will help you.

KIAC: What is more important: quantity or quality of traffic? Is it equally applied in all cases?

N.R.: Quality is more important: the more, the better.

Working with affiliates, plenty of traffic, especially with payment per action, will be hardly monetized well, and you won’t get repeats. Lots of impressions/clicks from affiliates are a signal that something goes wrong. Bulk purchase generally uses non-deposit offers that should be treated quite carefully. Operators take on expenses, you receive many leads, but they won’t bring real money.

Operators have to be aware of the market volume and to define what share they need. It is significant to know the amount of daily and weekly contacts as well as Post-click- and Post-view-conversions. Eventually, everyone pursues a single objective – performance. Reach campaigns are useful at a long distance. Do not forget about channel burning, seasonal fluctuation, pay days, and so on.

KIAC: What common mistakes do advertisers make while collaborating with webmasters? How does it affect traffic?

N.R.: The most common mistake among operators is incompetent staff. With brands not always realizing webmasters’ sore points, the latter has been recently preferring to work with affiliate programs. A single affiliate network, a single contact: there is no need to collect statistics from different places and wait for payments on various wallets.

The major challenge is rare feedback or even its absence. It is crucial to support your partners and provide them with feedback. Firstly, it will help both parties in terms of maximizing the response by joint efforts, and secondly, it will allow avoiding a negative attitude when something goes wrong on the part of affiliates, as they blame operators rather than themselves.

When somebody starts rumouring of working with the operator who does not convert/shave/assist, it is too difficult and expensive to remedy the situation. Brands should be webmasters’ friends as well as should tell them about industry news, new advertising materials, their traffic conversion and optimization. That is why webmasters join affiliate programs that design creatives, give payments a bit earlier, share new features, provide technical support, and recommend new markets.

At the same time, advertisers generally hope that engaging a new partner, traffic will be generated on its own, while their role will end there.

KIAC: What are the differences in operations with betting and gambling affiliate programs? What do affiliates should take into account?

N.R.: These are two different audiences. Sports betting is a bit simpler than gambling. However, many things depend on markets and customer acquisition channels. Gambling frequently provides higher payments than betting concerning foreign traffic.

Sportsbook is simpler because of the wider audience, and people tend to the conversion psychologically. Its audience is sports lovers requiring just an appropriate message. The current betting culture in the CIS countries is much higher than the gambling culture. Betting is treated less negatively due to its legalization in many countries. There are integrations aimed at young people, e.g. rap battles and various YouTube shows. I do appreciate brands playing the long game and working with several target audience portraits. Esports will evolve in the next few decades.

Another interesting sportsbook aspect on the CIS market is the absence of affiliate programs. Many top brands still do not provide them.

The gambling niche partially intersects with betting in the target audience, but it is a totally different type of people. Targeting should be deeper. For example, wide media advertising in gambling will have to make a much more complex way to the conversion or brand promotion than in betting. Gambling supposes targeting, Facebook, Google, Telegram, and specialized websites. Sports betting implies situational elements and messages like ‘The match is today: check yourself, place a bet.” Again, it is crucial to take into account market behaviors. In Sweden, more than 50% of active male population has tried online casinos. All Nordic brands earn more on gambling because of the culture pattern.

I would also like to mention the culture of gambling/sportsbook, which should be developed by all operators together. If people treat casinos adequately and work with expectations, everyone will benefit from this. Following the message “Earn here”, clients expect earnings. When this does not happen, they enter the forum and write: “The casino is bad. I earned nothing but was promised that”.

KIAC: Does betting require Retention Marketing? Why?

N.R.: Indeed, it does.

Retention is the foundation for both betting operators and casinos. Operators can and should affect the betting frequency, customer churn, repeats, cross from prematch to live, and other metrics that directly or indirectly affect the increase in the Customer Lifetime Value.

Operators understanding retention marketing are also quite important for affiliates. Thus, clients will play longer and the profit will be higher, which directly affects affiliates’ income.

KIAC: What innovations do you think will enter online gambling and betting markets in the coming years?

N.R.: I believe that Pay’n’Play will expand globally rather than only via Trustly. Blockchain and cryptocurrencies will be applied more frequently. There will be more mobile operators. Gambling native advertising will strengthen its positions. Social media will be a core information resource.

Scoring models (applied in banks), chatbot calls (customer support automation), bettor following, personal data protection, line power automation, retention AI algorithms, and responsible gaming AI algorithms (e.g. promptly informing customers when they lose more than usually) will find their place.

We can also expect the legalization of the majority of gray markets. Some above-mentioned things are already taking place. The rest will occur in the next 2-3 years.

On September 26, Nik will participate in the panel discussion titled ‘Casino, betting, esports: finding the right balance’ focused on gambling niches and the specific nature of cooperation with affiliates. You will be able to ask participants questions during their presentations and obtain expert answers at Kyiv iGaming Affiliate Conference 2019.


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