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Christoffer Grönlund, head of Acquisition and PR at Winlandia Partners, says affiliates have helped the online casino quickly build momentum in highly competitive markets such as Sweden, Denmark and the UK.

Customer acquisition is one of the greatest challenges that online casino operators face. This is a highly competitive space with hundreds of brands fighting for player attention.

There are plenty of channels for operators to explore but in reality, only a few are viable for smaller brands. This is because above the line marketing needs quite large, ongoing investment, and is more for brand building than immediate customer acquisition.

This means only the top tier operators can run TV, radio and outdoor campaigns. But even then, brand building takes time – a cool TV ad is unlikely to lead to an instant spike in traffic which is what lower tier operators need.

Smaller operators therefore have to focus on the lower funnel and utilise more cost-effective avenues such as SEO, paid media and of course affiliates. For us, the latter has proved to be a powerful driver of high-quality traffic to Winlandia, traffic that converted into first time depositors and re-depositing players at scale.

The performance-based nature of affiliate marketing means that we only pay for players that actually go on to deposit and play at Winlandia and by building strong relationships with the right affiliates, we can ensure the quality of traffic being sent to our casino is incredibly high.

Affiliates are particularly effective if you are a new brand entering a new market – there is always huge player demand for brands to try for the first time and we have looked to leverage this when making our debut in the likes of Sweden, the UK and Denmark – an approach that has seen our conversion rates skyrocket. 

To do this, we strike exclusive partnerships with big-name affiliates such as GiG Media and AskGamblers, allowing them to exclusively promote our brand in the market for a few weeks before joining forces with a small number of hand-picked publishers like Gambling.com once that period comes to a close.

By taking a quality over quantity approach, we can foster deep, long-term relationships with high-calibre affiliates based on respect and a shared goal of promoting Winlandia to the right players in each market.

This is different to the scatter-gun approach taken by other casino brands, many of whom look to partner with as many publishers as possible. While there’s nothing wrong with this strategy, we believe that by working with a smaller number of affiliates, we can build much stronger relationships.

And make no mistake about it, this is very much a relationship game. So how exactly do we go about this?

It starts with identifying the right affiliates for our brand. We look for those that are established in the market that we are set to enter and that are trusted by consumers. This is why we launched exclusively with GiG Media’s AskGamblers brand in the UK.

Once we have created our list of potential partners, we work with them to determine how best to promote Winlandia to their players. This includes the position they can give us and on which of their pages, as well as any other content opportunities we can explore. In the second phase of our roll-out, we have found Gambling.com to be a really important collaboration in the UK and other markets as well.

It’s important for us to then reach a commercial agreement that works for both parties. We understand the upfront costs that affiliates incur to get traffic to their sites, so want to reward them fairly for the players they send to us and that go on to deposit and play.

Another of our strengths is our 17-year experience in iGaming and specifically in affiliates. Winlandia’s CEO was one of the first casino affiliates in Finland and I was his first Affiliate Manager back in 2007. So, we have iGaming affiliation in the company DNA, and we can surely relate to all affiliate partners out there.

One thing that is for certain working with Winlandia Partners, we will never ever apply any predatory terms which is more than a pet hate within the affiliation community. Our affiliate partners can rest assured that these creative ways will never be applied as we have suffered from them enough ourselves historically.

We are open to different commercial agreements, whether that be revenue share or hybrid. Of course, we have to balance this off with our own costs – running the program, bonuses, etc. but we always endeavour to strike an agreement that works for all.

For each partner, we create a dedicated, branded page where players arrive at Winlandia from the affiliate site. This makes for a really smooth customer journey from the affiliate to Winlandia while transferring the trust the player has with the publisher to us.

Having a customised landing page that includes the affiliate’s logo has really helped to take conversions to the next level – benefiting both Winlandia and our publisher partners.

We are also good at active conversion rate optimisation. We do apply CRO strategies when orchestrating affiliate partners and their traffic to maximise conversion rates. This is of course something that tech-savvy affiliates love.

Trust needs to be earned and where we look to excel is in our reporting. Affiliates place a great deal of trust in their operator partners when it comes to tracking clicks, registrations, FTDs and revenues and we pull out all the stops to ensure accuracy and full transparency.

Part of this is our affiliate team always being available to our publisher partners, whether that be over email, Skype or their preferred communication channel.

This approach has helped us maximise the affiliate opportunity to hit the ground running in each of the markets we made our debut over the past 12 months. And while we are exploring other channels, affiliation has been and will remain at the core of our marketing mix.

Christoffer Grönlund started his journey in digital marketing in 2004 with prior experience in mainly sales and marketing studies. He started off in the golden IT-era in Stockholm in ’98 and then moved into the Publishing business, managing and developing magazines.  

Today Christoffer owns the strategy and the delivery of driving Customer Acquisitions & PR for all brands of Winlandia Marketing OU, across the customer funnel and across all marketing channels. Most focus lays on Search Engine Marketing (Google Ads), Programmatic and Affiliate Marketing.

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