In simple terms, affiliate marketing is an advertising model through which companies pay a commission to third-party publishers that generate sales or leads to their product. These third-party publishers are commonly called affiliates, and the commission fee incentivizes them to find unique ways to promote and bring traffic to the company.
With the growth of the Internet economy, most retailers and service sellers have created their own affiliate networks, where people can choose products that they want to advertise in exchange for a fee that is paid only when the sale is made. Essentially, affiliate marketing is a pay for performance type of business where the selling is outsourced across a vast third parties network.
While the multi-billion affiliate marketing business model started a long-time ago with the Amazon Affiliates network, today it is present in all industries, including education, digital services, and casino, to name a few.
In today’s article, we will run an in-depth business analysis of the Canadian gambling affiliate site Casinobonusca, which generated profits of over C$1.5 million, according to data found on DNB. Our goal is to help you understand the processes behind a successful internet marketing business based on advertising casino offers. We know it might not sound like the most complicated way to generate income, but you will soon enough learn that it’s quite challenging to thrive in such a competitive niche.
While there is no guaranteed recipe for success, by analyzing other lucrative businesses and implementing some of their primary strategies, chances are you will find success eventually. Of course, you should consider that becoming an affiliate marketing giant requires investing lots of time and money. On top of that, you will need to develop creative ways to stand on top of your competitors without violating Google’s policies.
Market Research is Mandatory
Entrepreneurs need to gather intel regarding their audience’s needs and market trends and use it to improve their user experience and develop an attractive brand communication technique that will bring them more leads and conversions.
Before they created the site, the owners of Casinobonusca spent time analyzing all the aspects related to the online gambling industry. The main research topics were:
The Online Gambling Market Size
The online gambling market is estimated to be worth 66.7 billion dollars in 2020, making it one of the most lucrative digital industries available now. Business analysts predict that the market is expected to double in value by 2026, reaching 127.3 billion and register a CAGR (Compound Annual Growth Rate) larger than 16.5% between 2020 and 2026.
If you read forums dedicated to affiliate marketers, you might find people saying that “the golden age” of gambling affiliates is long-gone, and the good times were back in 2010. However, if you take a closer look at the statistics, you will quickly start to understand that the opportunity to earn money from the casino industry is still available and more prosperous than ever.
Even though we weren’t able to find any statistics regarding the overall market size of the casino affiliate industry, the revenue potential can be estimated by analyzing how much the pros are earning:
Founded in 2008, XLMedia is a publicly listed iGaming super affiliate company that c has a market capitalization of over 72.7 million. The company has the credentials of an industry-leading digital marketing service provider, operating in four online business lines, including an affiliate marketing program with more than 300 sub-affiliates.
Over time, XLMedia has acquired important iGaming companies, like GreedyRates.ca ($9.5 million), ExciteAd ($19 million), and money Under 30 ($7.2 million), which increased their distribution network and increased their monthly revenue. While most affiliates make a few hundred bucks monthly, XLMedia capitalizes on over $1,000,000 monthly.
Catena Media PLC
Catena Media is a gambling affiliate company created in 2012 by two childhood friends. Using an efficient growth strategy, the company became the self-proclaimed number 1 provider of high-value iGaming leads. Today, Catena Media has a market capitalization of USD 2.42 billion and over 250 employees and six offices worldwide.
Their success didn’t come overnight. Catena Media used a smart organic growth strategy and continually invested their profit into acquiring other gambling-related companies like AskGamblers.com ($18 million) and bettingpro.com ($16 million), which boosted their revenues to over $105 million annually.
Judging by these super-affiliates’ market value, it’s safe to assume that there is a lot of money involved in the gambling industry, but the competition is fierce.
The most important part of the casino affiliate business is having promotions you can post on your website. The more deals you have with the casino operators, the higher your chance of earning a commission. Additionally, there is also a keyword benefit, since most people will Google that operator’s name + another word related to the content on the affiliate’s website, allowing them to rank above the casino’s site some occasions.
While casino operators aren’t too fond of the fact that they have to pay commissions to affiliates, the current legislation surrounding gambling advertising and the pricey pay-per-click ads leaves them no choice but to pay the third-party site to promote their platform. On top of that, they can quickly adapt their payouts based on the affiliate’s performance and offer them a deal accordingly.
When it comes to commissions, there are three primary models which affiliate can negotiate with the casino operators:
- Cost per Action (CPA) – a fixed rate paid by the casino for each user sent via the affiliate link, which can increase based on the authority of the affiliate site;
- Revenue-share – the most common commission model which is characterized by a percentage of the net revenue the casino earns from the referred players;
- Hybrid Model – super-affiliates have the power to customize their deals with the gambling operators and combine the CPA model with rev-share and ask for upfront payments for a long-term partnership with casinos.
Keyword Difficulty and Competition
Keyword research is the blueprint for your digital marketing effort, and most decisions will be based on it. That’s because having an excellent overview of the keywords in your niche will make the growth process more efficient. In essence, if you don’t know which keywords should lead to your site, you won’t drive traffic and generate revenue.
By using tools like Ahrefs or Semrush, affiliate marketers can quickly find a list of all the keywords they should focus on, with all the metrics like search volume or difficulty, which will allow them to identify their target keywords and generate quality content that is designed to rank on the first page for them.
A backlink is a link created when another site mentions yours. Having a vast portfolio of backlinks is essential for your SEO success. The owners of Casionbonusca started analyzing the competition’s backlink profile long before they started their website to ensure that there are enough opportunities available. After they created a list of the most relevant links for their niche, they made a content plan aimed at attracting links naturally. Here’s a snapshot of their backlink profile on Ahrefs:
As you can see, the website has 735 referring domains, which brings them over 274.000 backlinks. That’s an impressive achievement for a casino affiliate, and it can be seen by looking at the domain rating (DR) of 51. This indicator displays the strength of the backlink profile. Having such a large DR means that the website is already considered an authority in its field by the Google algorithm. Thus, the search engine is more likely to recommend content from this website when users are searching for specific keywords related to the gambling world.
Know Google’s Policies and Gambling Legislation
The last step of the market research process is knowing the laws and regulations surrounding the gambling industry. This step can be achieved by checking the regulatory authority responsible for enacting laws in the country you’re planning to operate in. For instance, Casinobonusa targets Canadian gamers, meaning that they had to make sure that their content won’t cross any boundaries imposed by Malta Gaming Authority (MGA), which is the primary regulator in Canada.
Analyzing the legislation before embarking on the gambling affiliate marketing journey is mandatory because no casino operator is willing to collaborate with affiliates that aren’t playing by the rules. On top of that, having a non-compliant website might result in hefty fines for both the operator and the affiliate, which is something you want to avoid if you’re going to keep your site profitable.
Another important factor is knowing Google’s Search Engine policies. That’s because their algorithm is optimized to identify spammy websites and misleading content. Thus, not being compliant with Google’s rules might result in your site getting de-indexed, meaning that you will lose everything you worked on.
Getting Started with Affiliate Marketing
Once the market research phase is done, it’s time to move to the development phase, which is the most challenging part of the business model. Fortunately, the gambling affiliate marketing industry is already prominent, so there is a lot of data out there that will inspire you and help you quickly identify the needs. Let’s find out how Casinobonusca was born:
Everything starts with a website
The foundation of a successful casino affiliate business is having a website. Of course, before you invest thousands of dollars in development, you should find a brandable and trustworthy domain name. The creators of Casinobonusca thought that having a domain name that expresses precisely what their website is doing would be ideal since the users can easily understand it, and it can quickly become a brand.
In case you don’t know where to start your search for a domain name, we recommend using specialty sites like the standard GoDaddy or NameCheap. However, you can also find domain names on private forums, which could come with some domain authority, allowing you to kickstart your business.
Once you’ve got your domain name and hosting service, it’s time to develop the website. Suppose you’re not a technical person or have nobody on your team that can write code. In that case, it’s recommended to collaborate with a professional web developer.
When building an affiliate business, your primary focus should be on having an SEO-friendly site with a mobile-first design that has a conversion-oriented user experience. If you don’t have any experience with building affiliate marketing sites, you can get some inspiration from the competitors and implement features that can improve conversions.
Have a multi-skilled team
When it comes to digital business, you will have to wear many hats, such as coding, copywriting, SEO, deal negotiating, and graphic design. Thus, being successful by yourself is nearly impossible, and you will need a competent team that has experience with online marketing businesses, so you can focus on the areas that will require your attention. In case you’re not ready to have employees yet, you can collaborate with freelancers on Upwork or Fiverr. Generally speaking, your team size will grow directly proportional to your business, so you might want to invest in key employees early on.
Adapt to the latest digital trends
Staying up-to-date with the latest releases in the digital world, like web design trends or research tools, will help you be ahead of your competition. So, continually reading the news and specialty forums can bring you relevant insights into the industry. Another efficient way to stay connected with the casino industry is participating in affiliate conferences like those organized by Sigma or Clarion Gaming, where you can extend your network, create new business partnerships, and meet your competitors.
Remember that Content is King
Having relevant and high-quality content is a crucial part of your business success. Thus, implementing a content framework is an efficient way to scale the content creation process. However, you should take into consideration that finding an ideal content framework will take time.
In the beginning, Casinobonusca was reviewing gaming platforms solely based on keyword research and what the competition was doing at the time. After traffic started coming in, they used the data they’ve collected to optimize their content and increase the dwell time. Refining the content development process is crucial for staying ahead of your competition and keep users returning for more.
Four Lessons Learned from the Casinobonusca business model
Let’s have a look at the key takeaways from the business model of Casinobonusca that should be taken into consideration if you’re a member of the affiliate marketing industry:
Have a Clear User Interface
Affiliate marketing is all about conversions, so having a highly optimized user interface that allows your visitor to navigate your website seamlessly is a must. Most website owners forget to create a powerful conversion funnel, meaning that even if their content is high quality and they rank well in the search engine, users will not click the Call-to-Action button as often as they would expect. The solution to maximizing your revenue as an affiliate marketer is split testing different landing pages until you get the results you wish. While the testing process might take a while, the time spent will pay off in the long run.
Create Suitable Content for Your Audience
Content is essential for both your users and search engine algorithms. Thus, investing time researching topics that your audience is interested in. For instance, Casinobonusca found out that casual gamblers’ pain points are the lack of understanding regarding wagering and withdrawing money earned from bonuses and optimized their content accordingly. If you want to succeed in affiliate marketing, you need to be creative and reinvent your existing content.
Optimize Your Backlink Profile
Having a vast backlink profile is not enough. While you might be able to rank well without having an optimized profile, you will never be consistent, and Google will eventually penalize you. Therefore, the best way to maintain a healthy link profile is continuously checking sites linking to you and analyzing them using a research tool like Ahrefs, which will help you decide if it is beneficial for your authority and whether you should keep it or set it to no-follow.
Experts from Casinobonusca recommend avoiding using black hat or outreach techniques because even if they boost your search engine rankings in the short run, they might become obsolete after an algorithm update. On top of that, sites using backlink building strategies against Google’s policy risk getting manually penalized and might also be permanently de-indexed from the search engine.
Keep Researching for New Opportunities
Once the website is optimized and starts receiving relevant traffic, your job is nearly done. However, if you want to stay ahead of the competition, you will have to keep continually researching topics that your audience is interested in and discover opportunities arising in the market.
Many beginners in the affiliate marketing industry think that coming up with a fresh idea is nearly impossible. The mistake most of them are making is that they become emotionally attached to their idea, so they are looking for a way to be unique. However, the solution to this creative block is searching the web and identifying what the competition is doing that you’re not. To facilitate the research process, you can use a tool like Buzzsumo, which shows you the most popular content on your topic, based on the number of social shares it has.
For example, the owners of Casinobonusca noticed an increase in the popularity of casinos that accept cryptocurrency payments, so they created a new section dedicated to finding such platforms. By analyzing some keyword opportunities, they successfully made their site more relevant to their audience.
The Bottom Line
Being successful in the casino affiliate niche is challenging but lucrative. Casinobonusca is the perfect example that even if the niche is highly competitive, you can destroy your competition by having a clear focus and implementing a proven growth strategy. Use the insights provided in this article to start your own business or apply them to your existing one.