There’s a lot of hype in anticipation of the inaugural SBC Betting on Sports America later this month. The conference is set to deliver an incredible amount of exciting content for both affiliates and operators looking to use affiliate marketing to expand their brand reach in regulated states.
With the licensing regime rolling forward slowly, it is unclear as to how the rest of the states may move forward. Nobody can tell how fast the rest of the country will follow suit. For now it’s a guessing game, but with early adoption key to establishing a footprint for profitable business, here are some tips to ensure that affiliate marketing works firmly in your favour when it comes to considering your customer acquisition strategies.
Don’t take any shortcuts
Even though the situation is still unclear on how the states will regulate sports betting, the rules for working with affiliates in the states that are regulated are very clear. Affiliates must get the relevant licences and operate with the correct due diligence to remain compliant and on the right side of the law. There will be no grey in this regard. Affiliates will need to have their house in order to apply for expansion to work in more states when the time comes. As an operator you will need to ensure you are only working with the partners who can add value to your existing acquisition strategy and are engaging with affiliates in a compliant manner.
There is going to be a cost to enter – legal, compliance, and finance frameworks will need to be reviewed as well as independent account resourcing. So smaller affiliates might take a bit longer to enter and establish themselves, meaning you might find yourself working with a smaller monopoly of affiliate sites to start with, and looking at innovating ways to build these affiliates into your acquisition strategy on a pay -per- performance model that works for your brand.
It’s clear that the bigger affiliate groups are entering fast to get an early digital footprint, to build their brands and to be ready for the market regulation as it continues. For new affiliates looking at this market as a means to expand their business you need to understand the liscencing regulation and process before you leap over to work there. The next few years may be tedious as states consider their requirements and processes may not be the same for application so make sure you are working with experienced professionals to get set up for success.
Consider your competitive advantage and the landscape you are working in
Understanding where and how affiliates can work within your existing customer acquisition strategy will be key. With the liscencing requirements defending the method of traffic remunerations you might have to consider your partners more carefully and create processes that allow you to do the relevant due diligence within your program in relation to the rest of your marketing activities in the region. Understanding exactly the value of a partners traffic, service, and content in the customer buying journey is key to helping you decide who to partner up with and what pricing you should pay for the traffic they deliver.
We’ll delve a bit deeper into this point in a few weeks time at the MasterClass when we look at the practical implementation of affiliate strategy for operators to consider. Due to the heavy regulation the market will be competitive. Finding affiliates who delivery quality traffic, content or service to users in your buying journey can make all the difference to your marketing acquisition budgets and margins helping you to compete on another level with more established US brands.
Invest in building new relationships & understand player localisation in micro detail
To enter this market successfully you will need to establish good relationships. The options will be limited due to heavy compliance and regulation on the operator and affiliate side. So invest now to attend as many conferences as possible and really get to grips with the local culture and digital landscape. The marketing practices in the USA will naturally be more complex than in the ROW. Local infrastructure for mobile betting will be very different too. Understanding the local sports and what player behaviours are in relation to this online is key to pricing your traffic. If you are experienced in content marketing, or local SEO there is a real opportunity to enter early and sell up as the market matures. The bigger affiliate brands will be interested in acquiring sites that are establishing themselves as a betting brand in local jurisdictions.
Influencer marketing also plays a really important role in this channel growth. Digital marketing and planning strategies might be increasingly different to how operators perform planning for brand expansion and new customer acquisition vs in the more established regions such as EU and UK. We’ve already heard from top affiliates like Better Collective, Catena and Gambling.com that the player values they are experiencing are double that of European counterparts, the opportunity to invest in building a new affiliate brand in the US seems an attractive one.