Taking full advantage of NFL season is vital for any business operating in the North American sports betting market, including affiliates. As most US facing sports betting affiliates will tell you, NFL season officially kicks off the year and there is a lull period between when the season ends and the next one begins.
OnlineFootballBetting.net is a US facing affiliate website that thrives during NFL season. The founders are former poker players who tested the affiliate business on the side and liked what they earned. After dropping the professional poker playing all together, they became full-time affiliates with a network of sites focusing on sports, casino and as a distant third, poker.
Ian Smith, one of the OnlineFootballBetting.net founders, is an avid sports fan and an expert in using NFL season to drive acquisition. Smith says only the horse racing majors such as the Kentucky Derby can compete with NFL season, but NFL fans have a much higher player value than horse racing fans. According to Smith, NFL’s Gameweek 1 right through to the Superbowl are paramount for traffic and signups, “so if you are not putting a lot of resources into targeting NFL, you should do so immediately.”
In this interview with Smith, you will learn how to implement NFL season strategies as a sports betting affiliate, learn how and why social media management can contribute to an affiliate’s overall success and what new opportunities are available for affiliates surrounding the NFL Season.
Becky Liggero: Thank you for joining me today, Ian. Seeing as you are an expert in the field, lets start with a few specific examples of how you use NFL season to drive traffic.
Ian Smith: Links to US sportsbooks, NFL betting sites and depositing guides are crucial for all your traffic. Free picks are poor converters but essential for sending good signals to the search engines, as well as encouraging your users to come back to your site each week.
Focus on seasonal bonuses and promotions, use up to date creative and ensure you make your calls to action obvious. People who come to betting sites want to bet. Make that process as easy as possible.
BL: Okay, what about social media? What strategies have worked for you on Twitter & Facebook when it comes to NFL season?
IS: User engagement is the real challenge on both platforms. It’s easy to get followers and fans, but getting them to come back to your pages can be difficult. Make sure you provide value and think up of interesting ways to get your fans to interact with you.
Two easy ways to improve your social metrics is by running competitions (for example “Win an NFL jersey of your choice”) and to give free bets. One of the unfortunate by-products of this approach is you can attract a lot of competition whores. However, even so, it’s an okay trade-off given the fact your social authority will improve and potential followers will see people interacting with your content, rather than a load of tweets or posts with no comments.
BL: So why bother with social media strategies when your website is one click closer to where the real money is made?
At the end of the day, social is something that is not a necessity. However, if you have any aspirations to be an influencer in your field or to become a brand, a social media presence is a must.
Try to think of 10 random brands in any industry and check if they have social media profiles. I’m sure you will find that they all do. You can still be very successful without Tweeting or posting on Facebook, but these are both great ways to speak to your audience directly and they are both free of charge.
We also like to think that a website with an active social media presence will send better trust signals to the various search engine algorithms than a website without one.
BL: Point taken, great answer. Lets talk about new opportunities – what level of interest is there for NFL in the UK, especially now that we’re seeing London based games?
IS: To be honest, while the interest is growing year on year, the NFL is still very much a second tier sport in the UK and the rest of Europe. It would still be far behind the likes of golf and tennis in popularity, both as a spectator sport and one to bet on.
However, it’s clear the NFL is putting a lot of resources into overseas expansion, so this is an area where there should be solid year on year growth for the foreseeable future.
BL: What level of interest do the Asians have in NFL betting?
IS: Having lived in Asia for a number of years I know there is close to zero interest in the sport in that part of the world. Affiliates looking to target Asian markets should focus on soccer and basketball, with cricket being the top choice for those targeting India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Pakistan.
BL: That’s what I thought, thank you for clarifying. What about Bitcoin, is there a real opportunity there for sports betting?
IS: Bitcoin is a growth area with a ton of potential. This market remains relatively untapped by affiliates, so there are still plenty of opportunities available.
We launched BitcoinSportsbooks.com earlier this year and our results have been excellent. It seems Bitcoin users love the NFL as well, as only one week into the new season and we have almost doubled our yearly Bitcoin revenues.
I was initially very hesitant on Bitcoin, however given that there’s a huge amount of VC money being invested into various BTC related startups I am bullish on its future.
BL: Agreed, Bitcoin is an exciting space to watch. Thank you very much for sharing your insight today Ian, hope you have a great NFL season.