It seems at least once a week, a new affiliate program is appearing on the scene or an affiliate program is revamping their affiliate backend. Yet despite logging into over 500 different types of affiliate backends over the years, not once have I been able to say “Yes. This is it. This is the ultimate affiliate backend.”
It’s really sad because I’ve even been consulted by some affiliate programs who were revamping their backend. And I’ve given then suggestions and data showing what affiliates want, then sat back and watched as they launch their new backend with absolutely nothing that I suggested being displayed.
So I thought I would write a list of top 10 features that every Affiliate Program Backend needs. Some of these you will find at some affiliate programs, but I don’t think there’s any affiliate program out there who will offer even 7 of these items. Hopefully some affiliate program reading this will get inspired, and deliver exactly what we want.
Please feel free to leave your own ideas in the comments too. This article is more focused on gambling affiliate programs but I’m sure it applies to most general affiliate programs:
#1: Receive an E-mail when a New Player Deposits:
This is something offered at a few affiliate programs like AffCoins and I’m surprised it isn’t offered everywhere by default.
Whenever a new player signs up and deposits at a casino, I get an e-mail stating:
Congratulations, another player from your ‘XXXXXX’ campaign has made a first deposit at XXXXXX.
Player XXXXX has deposited $XXX.XX.
That’s one of my favourite features of any affiliate program. It’s such a rush being out at a family function or doing grocery shopping, and getting notified “Hey, you just made money!”. Even moreso – it’s beneficial for the affiliate program because it keeps them in your head. I get so many affiliate newsletters these days that they all sort of blend together after awhile. But these e-mails stand out, and I ALWAYS remember programs like AffCoins when it comes to promotion.
Why this is such a rare feature I just do not know. If you don’t offer real-time reporting then that’s understandable – but how about a daily report option whenever there is activity on an affiliates account?
#2: Auto-Approval of Affiliate Registration
I understand the need for affiliate programs to want to approve of affiliates upon registration. But affiliate programs also have to realize just how demotivating it can be.
Sometimes, I’ll see an affiliate program offering an promotion that I want to promote to my players. They’ll make a forum post about “this weekends special promo”, on a Friday and I’ll think “I want to promote that”. Then I go to sign up, and am told I have to wait for my account to be approved. Of course they don’t work on weekends, so I have to wait until Monday. And even then I might not get it processed. Sometimes I’ve even had to contact someone from the program to approve it.
Affiliates usually don’t work on a dull 9-5 schedule; we are all about spontaneity. If I’m signing up for your affiliate program, I’m signing up because I want to promote it NOW. I want to promote it TODAY.
Don’t make me wait, because if I wait too long you’ll find that by the time you approve it, I’m promoting someone else.
#3: Real-Time Stats
In this day and age, we really should be able to see real-time statistics in our affiliate backend. It’s even more important when you factor in special events and social marketing. If I’m trying something on Twitter during a soccer game or an F1 race, I want to know RIGHT NOW how it is working. I want to see those clicks, those signups, and be able to analyze it all quickly. If I’m split-testing, I would much prefer being able to sit there in real time and watch, and see what is happening.
Of course I do understand how it could be a bit of a server hog – but hey how about every few hours at least?
And if you absolutely can’t do real-time reporting, and have to offer daily updates, then at the very least:
#4: Give a Date and Time of when Stats Were Updated
This is something that drives me absolutely nuts – not knowing when my affiliate stats were last updated. One of the biggest culprits of this is Income Access, which unfortunately is used by many affiliate programs.
I can log in there, and see my stats for “Today”, “Yesterday” etc. That’s great – but what exactly IS “Today”? Do you go by GST time? EST time? Is it updated precisely at midnight? Is it at 6am EST?
It really isn’t that hard to have a little note stating at what time the stats were updated, is it?
#5: Easy Access To Marketing Material:
One of my BIGGEST pet peeves when it comes to Affiliate Programs, is when they make you jump through a ton of hoops just to look at a few banners. It’s crazy just how difficult it can be just to see some bloody banners.
Here’s how it SHOULD be:
- Click Banners/Marketing Link
- See a list of banners.
That’s it. That’s how the process SHOULD be. Display maybe 10 a page, with filters available so I can simply click “Flash Banners” or “French Language” or a specific size or type of banner.
However so many affiliate programs make you jump through hoops. You need to choose the Brand, then you need to choose what type of promotion, then what type of Resource, then what language. THEN you need to specify a size before you see the banner.
The latter one sticks in my craw the most really – often, I don’t have a set type of banner size. I want to build the page AROUND the best banners they offer. But to see all the banners I need to go through every individual size just to see them. It’s very frustrating having to click-click-click about 300 times just to see them all.
#6: Lack of Updated/Event-Specific Marketing Material
Often I’ll get e-mails from affiliate programs wanting me to promote their “Christmas special” or their “4th of July No Deposit Bonus” but with absolutely no marketing material available to do that.
I think it’s great that affiliate programs want to offer timely promotions – but you need to be able to offer the banners to match that. I had quite a few affiliate programs during Euro 2012 ask me to promote their special Euro 2012 sportsbook bonus, or their special Euro 2012 casino bonus. And 5 separate times I had this conversation:
Me: “Can you send me over some banners to promote this?”
Them: “We don’t have any.”
Many affiliates don’t have a graphic designer that they can go to, and immediately get something made. They rely on the affiliate program to provide it. The affiliate program needs to be on top of these things. Even just a few default banners where you change the text.
#7; Regular Affiliate Incentive Promotions/Rewards
There’s a LOT of affiliate programs and brands out there – it surprises me that affiliate programs don’t do more to try and get affiliates to work harder on promoting their specific brand, like incentives from month to month.
Party Partners used to do this all the time – every month I’d get an e-mail from an affiliate manager with a tiered bonus structure. Bring in X players, get $XX extra on top of my usual revenue share for every player I bring in etc.
It’s such a simple little method that reminds you that you might want to promote that program during the month. They tailored it to the affiliate and how many players/money they were bringing in too, and sent it in a nice, personalized e-mail. I much prefer things like that to random generic promos run by programs.
Players are offered incentive marketing methods for retention all the time – why is it that so few affiliate programs offer that for affiliates?
On a semi-related note; I’m always surprised at how very few affiliate programs or managers “go that extra mile” in regard to keeping an affiliate happy. If I was an affiliate manager, and I saw a new affiliate bring in $xxxx in his first month, or see an affiliate making $xxx a month and then suddenly jump to $xxxx after pushing their brand more, I’d be doing everything I can to keep that affiliate happy. Even something as small as doing a quick check, seeing that there’s a Keg Steakhouse or Olive Garden in that affiliates town, and sending them a $100 gift card from there for “doing a great job”.
In this industry, affiliates aren’t afraid to drop your affiliate program overnight. These tokens of appreciation can be enough to keep that affiliate around, as they’re more loyal to your program, and appreciative of you now.
It’s a great method for your future endeavors as well. Sometimes it seems like we have an affiliate manager merry-go-round, with affiliate managers leaving one program and joining another overnight. Affiliate managers could hit the ground running if they’re able to bring in top affiliates from their last program, and it’s things like that which will make you stand out from the crowd, and have affiliates remember you.
#8: Player Demographics
Many programs don’t even let you see what nationality the player is! At the very least, I want to know things like that. I want to know whether they’re male or female, what age they are etc – things like that will only help me improve as an affiliate. It’s practically impossible for me to know whether my visitors are male or female, but if I see more females signing up for your brands than men via one page, then I might be able to tailor that page better to the female demographic.
The more we know about players, the better we can market to them. And on that note:
#9: Player Metrics
I’ve sat there and watched affiliate managers, in real-time, observe players playing in their backend. They can sit there and monitor every spin of the slots a player makes, look at whether they’re using autoplay or not, as well as easily see their wins and losses.
Most affiliate programs don’t offer anything even CLOSE to that for the affiliate.
Yet the ability to know what our players are doing would be HUGE. If I’m sending someone for traffic like “best online slots” and I was able to find out what the first slot most of them play? That’s HUGE! I know that out of all the slots available, that’s the most attractive slot, so I could focus on promoting that and converting more players.
If I send a bunch of players via my Play Roulette website and they play 3 games of “3D American Roulette” before reverting to the classic American Roulette graphic style – then I know that 3D is a big turn-off for my players, and I can update my pages to warn them about that, and focus more on the classic style.
If I send you a bunch of tournament poker players and many of them sign up for the WPT Satellites? Then I know that the traffic I am receiving and sending your way is interested in WPT Satellites. So I can then push them more, and send you more players and make us more money together!
That one is such a no-brainer it isn’t even funny.
#10: Custom Landing Pages – Simple Logo Insertion
First – I think it’s GREAT when affiliate programs offer different landing pages. If I’m sending you roulette traffic, it’s great that I can send them to a specific roulette landing page. Affiliate Edge are great with that.
However in this day and age Google is promoting the strength of the brand. They want people to work more on their brand. So what you have is affiliates creating excellent, brandable websites. If they work hard enough on their brand, then the brand themselves become a conversion point – visitors are signing up specifically for your casino or poker room or whatever because AskGamblers.com or PokerListings.com or whomever recommended them, and the player trusts that portal.
So at the very least, affiliate programs need to offer custom landing pages where affiliates can insert their very own logo. It should be a two step process: (1) Choose the landing page you want, then (2) Upload your logo of a specified size. Then boom, you have your own custom URL which is promoting Roulette, and has your own beautiful brand logo on it.
I can tell you from experience – referring someone to a landing page with your own brand logo on it increases conversions. It increases the trust factor for the visitor big-time, and makes them more willing to download, register and deposit at the casino or poker room.
I know it isn’t easy for a lot of affiliate managers. I’m sure many AMs are reading this and wishing they could flick a switch and offer all of the above tomorrow. But with more and more companies relying 100% on their affiliate program to bring in players, these are features that need to be added. They’ll make you stand out from the crowd, get you great word of mouth around affiliate forums, and get you lots of new affiliates.
What else do you guys think affiliate programs should offer, that the majority don’t? Post in the comments below.