The Norwegian affiliate expert Havard Lehn needs no introduction. In this interview he speaks passionately about US market affiliation, the search for new Affiliate Manager talents, and why affiliates talk about great affiliate managers just as much as bad ones.
What makes a good Affiliate Manager?
A really interesting question, I have been working with great Affiliate Managers and really bad Head of Affiliates – and everything in between. What makes an affiliate manager stand out is that he/she is willing to do the work it takes to make the partnership successful. There is no doubt that there are boring parts of the job, and that’s usually what matters the most.
Being an Affiliate Manager might seem like all fun and no hard work, but it’s mainly hard work. If you are lazy, being an Affiliate Manager will never work out for you. Of course, there are perks such as networking events, dinners, and parties – but the Affiliate Managers that are great at their job are the ones who are just as good at the boring part of it.
What I appreciate in an Affiliate Manager is when they are proactive, and always looking to make the partnership the best possible for both parties. One example could be when payments are down in certain markets where this is happening occasionally, I would much rather work with an Affiliate Manager that is honest about this and tells me to take the brand down for now until they have solved the issue. The majority however will choose not to say anything, even though they know that the payments have been down for the last couple of days, and just come up with a bullshit explanation about how the conversion will go up once they get more clicks.
Bullshit from affiliate managers doesn’t sit well with me!
Just remember, the Affiliates knows their traffic best, and they will anyways see when something is wrong. Be honest, and it will work out in the long run. Affiliates can be brutal, as they will always try to get the best deal for themselves. The job of an Affiliate Manager will always be to make sure the company is making a profit on the deals made.
iGaming always searching for Affiliate Manager talent
Great partnerships are built over time, with Affiliate Managers caring about their job. I truly appreciate the Affiliate Managers that are on top of the stats, and always looking for ways to raise conversion on your end. Those are the people I will keep an eye on, both for business partnerships but also for future recruitment purposes.
You know, we are keeping track of new business talents and ideas in iGaming. We are an international Affiliate, with sites such as Nye Casino 2023, while our main project is towards the American Licensed market with our flagship site Online Gamblers.
We are seeing great potential in the US market with OnlineGamblers.com, and we have taken a decision to focus long-term on the US. Our website is mainly focusing on educating the players, basically on everything from creating an account to the first withdrawal. We have also decided to be the front runners when it comes to Responsible Gambling and preaching the importance of this. We are in this for the long run, and we want healthy players in a healthy industry that will last for years and generate tax revenues on the profits.
When launching towards the US market we noticed that Affiliate Managers spend more time on getting to know the affiliates, most of the brands we work with there we had an initial online meeting with – to make sure we were both on the same page when it comes to expectations. This is something that European brands could learn from.
We are all offering a product which means everybody must have a customer service attitude. Why does it seem that some of the Affiliate Managers in the industry have totally forgotten the importance of offering the service which is expected? What seems to be more and more common is that Affiliate Managers are just working as “sales personnel» and once the “sale” is concluded you are given little or no service. Being an Affiliate Manager is so much more than just closing the deal because that’s when the real work starts. Small things matter such as
* Informing about what you need to do to get paid
* Helping with logos
* Promote unique selling points apart from casino bonus
* Checking and investigating broken links
* Account service and paying invoices on time
These are small but important things that I appreciate from an Affiliate Manager.
Affiliate Manager’s reputation is everything
My point in this discussion is quite simple: Different people bring various skills and strengths to the table. However, to be an Affiliate Manager takes hard work and dedication – and it is a job you would need to love to be good at. It’s not “just another” sales job! But I’m also adamant that if the operator or your own gaming company believes that the Affiliate Team is “Just another sales team” then they have got it all wrong. They must understand the importance and how crucial it is to have a great Affiliate Team! Who else will be able to improve conversions, player value, and bottom line? The Affiliates can be an extension of the company’s CRM, Customer Service, and of course a great conversion tool if the Affiliate Team is doing its job.
What can operators and Affiliate Managers do better?
* Be proud of your role within the company
* Keep learning new skills in your role
* Adapt to the ever-changing landscape (regulations, compliance, etc)
Stay on top of everything to make sure you are the best. A great Affiliate Manager will always be sure to have a job offer on the table as reputation is everything. Trust me on this.
Affiliates talk about great Affiliate Managers just as much as bad ones
Often when brands are looking for Affiliate Managers they will ask affiliates about candidates, and who they think are great at their job. This is something worth thinking about. people talk. We talk. Affiliates talk about great Affiliate Managers just as much as bad ones.
The iGaming industry is growing up. It’s a great thing, to be honest, although there is still plenty of room for networking, champagne, and good times. Anyway, what matters is that any success will be all about hard work. I call it smart work because I do believe that the most important tasks of an Affiliate Manager are done by the computer/mac.
As I spoke a bit about earlier in this article, I think that many of the Operators have taken lightly on the Affiliate Team, and therefore did not see its importance of it. Have a look at the great new brands that are succeeding, for example, LetsLucky, Casinofriday, and CasinoDays: many of them are highly driven by Affiliates. Who do you think should have the honour of that? Yes, you are right. The Affiliate Managers. This also shows that when the management has a clear strategy to focus on Affiliate-driven traffic the Affiliate Team will shine, and they will do a great job.
Will we see European affiliate managers moving to the US market? Oh, absolutely! I am 100% sure that we will see a huge amount of experienced Affiliate Managers based in Europe willing to move over to the US during the next coming years, and there will also be a demand for new Affiliate Managers as they will understand the importance of Affiliate Traffic. The US market is still fresh and adapting. The majority of the brands there seem to be running with their in-house teams from land-based operations, and I am sure this will change.
The US is also a highly interesting market for those looking to get a career within the industry, the possibilities are plentiful as more and more states are regulating. This is not limited to the Affiliate Team, there will be a huge demand for industry professionals – and the difference between running an online operation and land-based operations will make it interesting to recruit from the iGaming industry in Europe.
Thanks for the interview opportunity. I think working as an Affiliate Manager is a great opportunity to learn the dos and don’ts in the industry. You will be thrown out with the sharks, and you need to be sure you can handle it. I think my best advice to future affiliate manager candidates will be: Be proactive, know your product, and cut the bullshit!