Saturday, December 25, 2010

Sportsbook & Casino Affiliate Program Research; Questions To Ask Before Joining A Program

affiliate info As a sports betting related website owner over the past 10-15 years, affiliate programs have always been one of the best ways to monetize your web traffic. No industry has flourished like the Sportsbook & Casino affiliate marketing industry. With a plethora of sportsbook & casino affiliate program opportunities out there today, it's very difficult to separate the quality partnerships from the garbage operations. Affiliate marketing is unique and can be a very risky business. There are programs out there in the sports betting and casino industry that have no intention of paying you your commissions if a big player were to come along and generate thousands of dollars in profit to the sportsbook or casino. On the other hand, there are some very lucrative platforms in the industry today that want to earn your trust and build and honest business relationship with you. Again, it may be hard to tell which affiliate programs have the affiliate's best interest at heart. Over the next few weeks we will be providing some general advice on selecting and joining sportsbook & casino affiliate programs.

Before sending any affiliate program your valuable traffic that you worked so hard to earn, here are some general questions you should ask the sportsbook/casino affiliate operators and some things to look for;
  1. What is the affiliate programs commission structure? Generally 25% is a good starting point, which usually will include a progressive system which offers more commissions for sending more earnings. If the book is willing to offer you 50% to start, make sure you look further into it. Books that are willing to give you 50% of their profits probably only offer this for the first month where usually you aren't making any commissions. It usually takes a few months (sometimes even a year) to build a significant list of players under you where you are earning big commissions. Also, be skeptical and ask questions before diving right into a big commission percentage partnerships. If it sounds too good to be true, it usually is.

  2. Are there negative carryovers? If you don't know, a negative carryover means that if your players beat the house for one one month, that red figure (or negative balance) will be carried over into the next month. For example; If your referred your players on your affiliate sheet (with 25% commissions) have won a total of $2000 in February, you will have a negative commission balance of $500 (25% of the -$2000) at the end of the month. If there are negative carryovers, your balance will be -$500 to start the month of March and you will not get paid for the first $500 of commissions that you make as you have to work off the red figure. If there aren't negative carryovers, your -$500 balance will be "zeroed-out" to start the month of March and you will earn commissions on all earnings in March. Most people would think that not having negative carry-overs is a good thing. Sure, as a general principle, it sounds great. However, you must be skeptical of "no negative carry-over" offers as the book may be making their money in other ways. When selecting a sportsbook affiliate program, always make sure to put yourself in the shoes of the sportsbook or casino and think to yourself, "Would I offer this to my affiliates?" Once again, if it sounds too good to be true, it usually is. However, there are honest affiliate programs that offer "no negative carry-overs" which will give you your legitamite earnings.

  3. How many people are working as part of your affiliate staff? Will I be assigned a dedicated "affiliate manager"? The best affiliate programs will have a staff of at least 5-10 people supplying assistance for the affiliates as needed. Quality affiliate programs are properly funded operations and branches of the sportsbook or casino's marketing department. If the book is just offering you a website with some links, banners, & stats, and no substance as far as working one-on-one with your affiliate account manager, its going to be hard to make sure everything is running smoothly. The best programs that I have worked provided me with an affiliate manager that will go over my account if I have any questions, check up on players for me, provide additional materials, and make sure payments are going out on time. The best affiliate managers have worked as affiliates at some point time in their lives and are aware of the everyday grind that you, as an affiliate, will go through. A quality staff and a good affiliate manager is an essential part of a lucrative affiliate program. If a really good affiliate manager comes along, utilize the resource. Another think to remember, if you have a great affiliate manager and they tell you that they are no longer going to be working with the company, get their personal email address and keep in touch with them. If they end up at another company, you will want to work with them again and will want to be able to contact them. The best managers that I have worked with, I have done business with them while they were at more then one company.

  4. What type of bonuses and other promotions does the sportsbook or casino offer? In order to send the required number of players to a sportsbook or casino, the brand has to offer suitable bonuses and promotions. Needless to say, it's a lot easier to get a player to deposit at a sportsbook with a 100% bonus then it is to deposit at a sprtsbook with a 10% bonus. However, you must remember that when a book takes the risk of offering a big bonus, you are sharing the risk as a percentages of the bonus money will most likely come out of your commissions. Generally, casino and poker bonus offers are usually larger then sportsbook bonus offers. There are also different type of bonuses. A 'cash bonus' is where the player receives the bonus money in straight cash which is added directly to their account balance. A 'free-play bonus' where the bonus is given in free-play money allowing the player to use that money for free bets, and only the winnings from the free-plays are added as real cash to the account. A common type of bonus for poker promotions is a bonus that is released as the player meets the required play. It's always a good idea to share the bonus information with your players on your website so that they know what to expect at the sportsbook or casino. Many bonuses also have a rollover, where the player's deposit as well as the bonus must be played a certain number of times before being allowed to withdrawal their funds. Remember to get all the terms of the bonus before promoting it on your website.

  5. What are the book's processing rates for credit cards? This is particularly in important when promoting books to U.S. based players. Credit card deposits are the most popular form of deposits amongst U.S. players and not all books can process U.S. credit cards. A lot of credit card companies will decline the charges if they think the money is being used for gaming purposes. If the sportsbook can process credit cards at a high rate, you are more likely to land more U.S. conversions. It may be a good idea to test the book out for yourself by opening an account at the book and making a small deposit with your credit card to see if it gets approved. A lot of books will say that they have high credit card approval rates when they really do not. This will make your players unhappy when they join a book per your recommendation only to get declined on their deposit. As far as U.S. player, credit card processing rates, the affiliate partnership that I have found to be the best is BeUS Partners.

  6. What type of conversions can I expect to see? Ask your new affiliate manager what the usual and average conversion rates are for their affiliates. Just to get a sense of what the other affiliates are doing. Every website is different and every book is different. Therefore, you may not see the same type of conversions that you would with another program. However, if you get a sense of what the conversion rates are for other affiliates, you will be more informed when you do your marketing. For example; if you are converting players at a lower rate then the sportsbook or casino's average conversions, you will have the good sense to change up your marketing tactics. Obviously, some books will state their normal conversions are higher then they really are. I have found that the best conversion rates with my best partnerships are around the following; click-to-signup: 5 to 10% & signup-to-deposits: around 15%. If you get one depositor per every 100 clicks, most online sportsbook marketers would agree that your conversion rates are very strong.

  7. What type of marketing materials and creatives do you provide? Most affiliate programs will offer you banners, articles, and other tools to work with. Ask them if they will provide special creatives and banners at your request. Sometimes you will need a special banner to fit on a particular spot on your website that they do not offer. If the book is willing to offer you a special bonus (see #4), perhaps they will make you some banners and creatives with that bonus on them. Some sportsbooks and casinos will provide you with co-branded landing pages and banners with your company logo on them as well as theirs. Sportsbooks and Casinos will sometimes provide you with dynamic web applications and tools (such as game matchup tools, odds calculators, basketball and football odds feeds) for your website. A lot of these tools will have the sportsbook and casino brand's advertisements on them with clickable links. Make sure that these links on tools will track your players and you will get credit for referals from these clicks. Otherwise, do not put the tools on your site. There are plenty of good programs that provide dynamic website tools that will track your referred players from the clicks on them.

  8. Show me the fine print! Many sportsbook/casino affiliate programs have special restrictions which require you to send a certain number of active players each month in order to keep your commissions from past players. These type of restrictions are unfair. What happens if you have a slow month? You lose all your past players? Other restrictions to watch for include; a minimum deposits for a player on first deposit in order to earn commissions on that player, no commissions on a player after a certain amount of time of inactivity. There a lots of questionable terms to watch to for. You should always be entitled to commissions for all players that you send to a sportsbook or casino. After all, they wouldn't have that person's business if it wasn't for the affiliate. As a general rule, if you see too many special restrictions in their terms, then you should not promote that particular sportsbook or casino's affiliate program. MAKE SURE TO READ THE TERMS OF ANY MARKETING AGREEMENT!
I really hope these tips will help you in avoiding dishonest casino and sportsbook affiliate programs and help you find the partnerships that you think will work best for you. Use the tips above to help you find the programs that you think are most suited for your website or blog. For example; if you have a blog that probably won't send a whole lot of players, make sure to look out for minimum player restrictions (see question #8).

In my next posts, I will talk about and list some of the programs that I have found to be the most lucrative and profitable. I will also provide details about the programs and give advice on how to go about promoting them on your website. There is a lot that new sports handicapping service owners and gaming portal webmasters do not know about affiliate marketing and I will be here to provide advice.

Thanks For Reading!

Monday, December 20, 2010

BetUS Partners Sportsbook & Casino Affiliate Program Review


Affiliate Program: BetUS Partners
Sportsbooks: BetUS Sportsbook
Casinos: BetUS Casino
Poker Rooms: BetUS Poker
Racebooks: BetUS Racebook
Bonus Promos: 50% (Sportsbook) & 100% (Poker)
U.S. Players Accepted: Yes
Payment Methods: Check, Money Transfer, Speedpay Card
Revenue Share: Sliding Scale Starting at 25% (up to 45%)
Negative Carryovers: No
Sub-Affiliate Earnings: Yes (5% Commissions)
My Overall Rating (1 to 10 Scale): 9
Review: The BetUS brand has been around for almost as long as the online sportsbook and casino industry has been around. However, during this brand's early years, they were poorly managed and developed a poor reputation on the web. A few years ago, the brand was reorganized and placed under new management. Since then, they have been one of the most popular affiliate programs and online sportsbooks amongst U.S. affiliates. Their 'No Negative Carryover' promotion is one of the most profitable terms in the industry. Their affiliate managers are usually very helpful and very experiences, despite being unreachable at times. You can tell when talking to them, that they have experience working as affiliates and online marketers. The customer service staff for players is also exceptional and you can usually get solutions to easy customer service for your players. The only downfall with BetUS is their payments are sometimes late and you may have to wait for the following month (30 to 45 days) before receiving your commission payment for the previous month. BetUS Partners recently upgraded their affiliate software which they are reporting will speed up the payments and "streamline this process to have a superior platform to manage commissions". There deposit methods are also excellent for U.S. players. They have approval rates for processing credit card payments from U.S. players that are some of the best in the industry. I find BetUS Partners to be one of my most profitable affiliate platforms and I have had very little complaints from my players as far and payments and customer service. I highly reccomend promoting the BetUS Partners brand.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Sportsbook & Casino Affiliate Program Research; Review of ReferIncome / Oddsmaker


Affiliate Program: ReferIncome
Poker Rooms: OddsPoker
Racebooks: Oddsmaker Racebook
Bonus Promos: Free $100 Bet (Casino) & 100% (Sports Poker)
U.S. Players Accepted: Yes
Payment Methods: Check, Wire Transfer,
Revenue Share: Sliding Scale Starting at 25% (up to 50%)
Negative Carryovers: No
Sub-Affiliate Earnings: Yes (5% Commissions)
My Overall Rating (1 to 10 Scale): 7

Positives/About Refer Income: ReferIncome is the official affiliate program of Oddsmaker Sportsbook & Casino along with OddsPoker poker room. This is one of the newer affiliate programs on the market so there is a lot of earnings potential for new affiliates. As a ReferIncome affiliate, you have access to a quality affiliate manager who is highly motivated and always open to discussing new ideas with their affiliates. Oddsmaker Sportsbook & Casino treats their best affiliate earners very well. If you are one of the top earners or have a big player list at ReferIncome, the partners at Oddsmaker will treat you as they do their VIP players; inviting you to lavish VIP trips and other functions. They offer competitive commission rates and as a new book, their market is untapped, leaving the potential of building a nice player list. Their affiliate manager will help you create custom landing pages, creatives and will also offer you some additional promocodes for you players if you ask for them. Their payments are always made on-time and requesting a payout is never a hassle. Their stats seem to be pretty accurate as I have done some testing and haven’t noticed inaccuracies. There are times where conversions can be a challenge due to this book being new and having yet to create any buzz about their operation. Their sportsbook and casino offers the same games and betting opportunities as all the other gaming brands on the web. The poker room has nice software and a decent number of players. The average player can find low to medium limit rings games and tournaments without any problems. Higher limit games are available at their poker room, but there are a limited number of high limit players.

Negatives: There may be some times where you get complaints from your players about the restrictions and terms of Oddsmaker’s 100% match play bonus. The reason you might get some grief is due to the fact that this is not a bonus that your players will have access to immediately. The 100% bonus is released as the player plays and the more he or she bets, the more the bonus money is released (also called a “gradual release bonus”). The “gradual release” bonus is actually quite normal for poker bonuses as most poker rooms will do the same thing; release the bonus money as the player continues to play. However, at most of the other gaming sites on the web, sports and casino bonus money is usually given to the player immediately to bet with; but the player has to wager the bonus amount a certain number of times before they will be allowed to withdrawal the money (this is also called a “rollover”). One of the reasons Oddsmaker/ReferIncome has the “gradual release” bonus instead of a regular bonus (with a rollover) is due to the fact that a player has one account for poker, sports, casino, and horse racing. A lot of other places separate the poker accounts from the sportsbook/casino accounts. At Oddsmaker, the player has one account where he or she can transfer the money to any area (poker, casino, sports betting, horse racing, etc) they want. My affiliate manager has told me that they plan to change the bonus policy in the near future. Another problem with the “gradual release” bonus is that ReferIncome will doc your commissions for your cut of the bonus money immediately (only 20%), even through the player doesn't have immediate access to this money. However, my ReferIncome affiliate manager was willing to adjust my stats every month to compensate for this. As I said, they will listen to your ideas and are open to discussing any new possibilities.

Overall Opinion: As I said previously, there is some serious potential here. You can make some decent money from Refer Income if you work at it and are somewhat patient. But, they will get a good grade from me as this is an honest book that is run by an honest group of partners. They care deeply about their reputation and will treat their VIP players and affiliates very well. Signup at ReferIncome and start promoting Oddsmaker Sportsbook, Casino, and Poker by clicking here. If you have any questions for me about this affiliate program, be sure to email me. I will also be very happy to contact my affiliate manager on your behalf. I also have some no deposit, free $10 bet promocodes for you to share with your players if you contact me and signup at ReferIncome with my link. Best of Luck!

Monday, April 5, 2010

Some Link Building Tips For Your Blog or Website

Building links to your site is one of the most effective ways to increase your web traffic and your search engine positions. Combined with your website or blog's content, the more links you have coming in, the more traffic you will receive. There are lots of free and paid ways to build backlinks to your blog or website.

Before I discuss some of the many ways to build incoming links, I want to let you know of the two types of backlinks you can receive;

Unsolicited Backlinks - The can also be called 'organic' backlinks. These are genuine links that come from other blogs/websites. It means that you didn't specifically request another website to link to you. It also means that you really didn't need to do any additional work to receive this link (besides offer something worth linking to). These are the type of links that search engines love. When you buy links (which I will discuss), making them appear to genuine and organic is usually an effective techique.

Solicited Backlinks - These include paid links and link exchange links. These are links that you specifically requested to have placed. In some way, you ask another website owner to place your link on their site. These also include directory submissions.

If you are building links to your site, you are most likely using your time wisely (unless of course, your website doesn't have any substantial content). Here are some ways that you can get free and paid incoming links to your site or blog.
  1. Directory Submissions - Go to the major directories on the web, such as DMoz.org and submit your link for inclusion. You can spend the entire day doing nothing but going through directories and submitting your link, and you won't make a dent on the overall number of free directories that are on the web today. However, it's best to do a few submissions per day as a gradual increase in the number of backlinks looks more genuine to search engines. There are also big directories, such as the Yahoo Directory, which charge an annual or one-time fee for inclusion. Some of these directories are worth the money and some are not. If you aren't looking to invest your money, then just do the free ones until you have some capitol or advertising money to spend on the premium directory listings. You can usually find people to do your directory submissions for you in return for a small fee or some other service. You can usually find someone to do directory submissions for you (at a very reasonable cost) at places like the Digital Point Forums. Be weary of directory submission services on the web that make ridiculous claims like "500,000 directories for just $5.00". If the offer sounds too good to be true, it usually is. If you are paying someone to do your directory submissions, you want them to manually submit your directory listing for you.

  2. Link Exchanges - If you are going to do link exchanges, your goal should not be to do as many as possible. Your goal should be to do quality exchanges with quality sites. Find other sites with substantial content and offer to put your link on a high content page in exchange for that site doing the same for you. Make sure your link isn't placed on a page that is buried more then 1 or 2 clicks from the site's main page. Also, be sure to exchange with other websites or blogs in your genre. If you have a sports betting website and you have a bunch of backlinks from a gardening website, it's not going to do you much good for two reasons; (1) The search engines won't consider those links as important and therefore won't increase your rankings for keywords in your genre; AND (2) The visitors who are most likely to see those links will not have any interest in your website as they won't be part of your target audience. If you email another webmaster to do a link exchange, don't just offer him an exchange and give him your link. Tell the other webmaster a little bit about your site and the page you are willing to place his link. Show the other webmaster some traffic numbers from that particular page and your site overall. Offer him a fair and reasonable link exchange. Don't just exchange links for the sole purpose of increasing your search engine positions. Do it to offer your visitors links to other quality sites and pages as well as gain direct traffic from the link you are getting in return. The more an incoming link looks natural and the more relevant the page that your link is on, the more the search engines are going to value that incoming link.

  3. Article Submissions & Press Releases - In my opinion, this is the most effective link building technique as it involves creating content-rich pages on other websites to go along with the link to your site. Write some yourself or pay someone to write a few articles and include a few links to your homepage and pages on your site in the articles. You can then submit your articles to other article directories and free press release websites. You can also find other sports blogs (or blogs in your genre) and ask them if they are looking for some guest writers. Just ask in return that they allow you to place a link or two to your site in return for the article. Most quality websites are looking for new content and are more then happy to oblige. However, keep the content unique. Don't submit the same article to more then one or two sites. You can also write some press releases about your blog or business website and submit them to free press release services. There are also paid press release services that will offer you more exposure.

  4. Create Good Content on Your Own Site / Offer Something Unique -If your website offers unique content or services that others do not, the chances are that some sites will link to you. Always make sure to write at least one or two articles a day on your own site and submit your feeds to social networking sites and you will build incoming links. Discuss a hot sports topic in a unique way. The more unique your content, the more other sites will be willing to link to you. Creating content on your own site is one of the best ways to increase your site's authority in your genre. You can also offer a free contest or niche where other sites will discuss what's happening at your site. You could rank other websites or blogs in some category or have top #10 list about other sites. The other sites will be happy to tell their visitors that you ranked them in your top #10 list by linking to your blog or website. Be creative. Creativity will earn you exposure and linkbacks in the web world. Offer something that other sites do not.

  5. Post on Forums and Comment on Blogs - You can also post on other web forums and comment on other blogs in effort to increase links. However, make sure that you are actually contributing to the site that you are posting on. Otherwise, you will not only make a bad name for yourself, but the other webmaster will just delete your comments or posts and bad you from the site. Spamming is not productive. Do one to others...

  6. Pay For Links - If you have some investment capital and want to build some backlinks fast, paid links are a good method. But, do not overdo it and be careful. Search engines have a way of noticing when a site is buying up a lot of paid links in effort to increase rankings. A heavy and unusual surge in backlinks in a short period of time will automatically raise a red flags with the search engines about your site. The search engines will be able to tell that you are not getting your links organically and that you are paying for back links. If you are buying links, purchase them from quality sites that have good content, rank well with the search engines, and aren't already over flooded with other paid links. Use different link titles with each site and ask them if they can put your paid links in some type of content or contextual placement.
This is not an all-inclusive list. There a plenty of other methods and techniques for building backlinks to your website. I will discuss more of these methods and will offer other traffic building techniques here on this blog. But, this is one of my first few posts and I wanted to give some novice website owners and bloggers a starting point to help with their marketing efforts. Whether this is a topic that you haven't read about or you needed a refresher, I hope that you found this post to be helpful . Will share more down the road.