Running a successful affiliate site involves a lot more than slapping up an optimized site under a snazzy URL. Sure, SEO is important but it’s only half the battle- once a player arrives at your site, if the experience is poor, it’s likely they will click away and never come back. The key to reducing that bounce rate and maintaining a loyal customer base is by creating a user-friendly experience within your website.
Brean Wilkinson has been in the online gambling affiliate industry for a decade and currently serves as the director of Click Profits Ltd., a UK-based marketing company specializing in affiliate marketing. Gamingslots.com is a popular affiliate site within the Click Profits network that Wilkinson and his team manage. Players can find anything and everything about online slots at Gamingslots.com, ranging from reviews to recommendations, news, freebies, videos, new releases and more.
Wilkinson and his team have just finished a one-year project called “Project G”, a complete re-development of GamblingSlots.com to make it more user-friendly.
“It was starting to become apparent back in 2013 that Gamingslots.com was getting to a point where its usefulness to visitors was flattening out,” said Wilkinson. “We could keep adding new reviews and free play games, but that was about it. A decision was made that we needed to drastically overhaul the site and bring in new features and benefits to users of the site.”
Improving user’s experience
To improve the users’ experience of Gamingslots.com, nowadays the development must take into account three different formats—mobile, tablet and desktop. “We started with usability, building the new site in responsive CSS, to make it available on all devices,” shared Wilkinson.
Some could even argue that mobile and tablet should be the top priority, but at this stage desktop is still a player and should not be ignored. For Gamingslots.com, over the past few years their mobile traffic has grown from 2% to 10–15% and continues to climb.
“I see [mobile] as the biggest area of growth for Gamingslots.com. We have now put ourselves in a position to take advantage of this opportunity, which some of our competitors are still working on or have ignored completely,” said Wilkinson.
Another one of Project G’s improvements made the signing in to player accounts easier. “Users can now access their Gamingslots accounts using social media logins, rather than a need for separate account,” explained Wilkinson.
A new site design and onsite improvements were also part of Project G. Wilkinson’s team created a new logo that inspired a fresh identity and helped shape the new look and feel of the website. Gamingslots.com’s on-site features were improved as well.
“We launched a new feature called Slots Analytics, which allows registered users to view more details about the slot games in a more info-graphic format. There are also a range of filters in our search facility and on popular pages to allow users to find the games they are looking for.” said Wilkinson.
“Our aim is to continue improving the user-friendliness of the website as the benefits are clearly obvious,” he said.
Challenges along the way
Its clear that maintaining a top notch, user-friendly affiliate site involves a lot of moving parts including keeping on top of technological advances, managing tracking issues and regulatory changes.
We know mobile is now front and center of our industry, but tracking accurate affiliate revenues from this medium continues to be a challenge.
“We have come up with a few new things to help us, which include redirects on all affiliate links (so we have our own stats on click-thru’s), device specific ID’s and universal log in tracking. None of these are perfect and we are still working on things to help us improve tracking on mobile and tablet,” explained Wilkinson.
Another challenge UK-facing affiliates will have to deal with is the Point of Consumption Tax (POCT) that takes effect as of December 1, 2014. As a result of this tax, affiliates fear operators will slash their affiliate commissions and some operators will leave the UK market altogether, taking those UK-facing affiliate commission checks with them.
When asked how he thinks the POCT will impact his business Wilkinson said, “I think it will have an effect of reducing revenues initially, but with time I think it will be a positive thing as it will likely reduce competition and benefit those that are willing to deal with it”.
Managing reduced commissions is not all affiliates have to deal with once POCT comes into play, they will also need to update their sites.
“Gamingslots.com is one of a number of websites in the Click Profits network, so we have a lot of work sorting out pages that need updating with details of the changes in the law for UK players”, said Wilkinson. “We are also working on a GEO targeting tool that will help us display and not display ads depending on the visitors’ location”.
Spreading the word
After putting one year of hard work into a massive project such as Project G, the next step is spreading the word and Wilkinson took a two-pronged approach- an event for raising awareness within the industry and a special promotion for players.
To educate the industry on Gamingslots.com’s re-launch, Wilkinson hosted an evening at Lola’s within the Hippodrome Casino and presented his guests with a few surprises.
“Those that came down got £50 of chips to bet in the casino and I believe some guests left with much more than they arrived with. We also had drinks in a private area that was right next to all the tables in Lola’s, making it great for networking”, Wilkinson said.
To educate players on the re-redesign, Gamingslots launched a free-to- enter “Know Your Slots” competition with $2,000 worth of casino prize money and other prizes such as Amazon and iTunes vouchers, speakers, iPhone covers and casino merchandise.
“We will be announcing the winners of our $2000 casino cash giveaway very soon on our Facebook page. So if you entered or you are just curious about the results then search for ‘Gamingslots’ in Facebook and follow us. There will be plenty more competitions coming soon”, Wilkinson revealed.