Nina Sparv, co-founder and CMO at Epicorns , gives an exclusive interview to SiGMA News as part of our latest series on affiliates
How did you first get into the affiliate space, and were you always focused on the iGaming sector?
I started working within the iGaming sector back in 2013 as a content writer and copywriter for several white labelled casino brands. I continued working within the same company for almost 3 years. At some point I was also promoted to a higher role within the same company.
During these years I worked very closely with affiliates and attended many affiliate conferences, and the affiliate business always fascinated me. I was kind of jealous of all the cool affiliates in the conferences.
In 2016, my partner in crime and I decided to try the affiliate business out on our own. We started by building affiliate websites for gambling, horrible ones, now that I look back at them. That was also when I quit my full time job. And finally, after endless amounts of failures and mistakes, we made it - now we are an affiliate company with over 20 employees.
How is your affiliate business structured, and what aspect of business development are you currently focused on?
Being slightly different from many other affiliate companies, Epicorns is actually a company based in Andorra, but currently it is only my partner and I who live there. We are around 20 people working full time, but from different places around the world. In addition to that we also have several part time freelancers; for example, our content writers.
Currently we are focusing on fixing our old affiliate websites, but also into launching new projects within both casino and sports betting. One of our newly launched websites that we are now working on is casasapuestasdeportivas.es. We are also looking into expanding more internationally.
Which markets do you focus on and do you see any potential in the emerging markets?
Until now our focus has been on the Nordics and on the Spanish speaking markets. I would say our main focus is on the Spanish market, with websites like casinoonlineespaña.es. But we are planning to start new projects as well on other markets and languages.
What makes your traffic proposition / traffic sites unique? What can you offer that others don’t? Are there any exciting plans in the works that you can tell us about?
We focus solely on high quality SEO traffic. We always strive to be able to provide quality instead of quantity. We might not be able to offer thousands of new players, as many other affiliates do, but the players that we send are always good players.
Is the grass greener on the other side - Have you considered giving white label casino or sports betting a go?
No, we have not. We prefer to focus on what we are good at, which is SEO and affiliate marketing.
Are you concerned by the impact on the affiliate sector from shifting regulatory environments? (In particular UKGC, Sweden’s Spelinspektionen, and Germany’s 2020 State Treaty on Gaming Regulation)
I would not say concerned. I think it is something that will happen within most of the markets anyway in the end. There are though, several issues with being an affiliate when new regulations are settled, since they are rarely made for the affiliates or done with “affiliates in mind”. Confusing is probably an accurate word to describe what it is to affiliates.
But in the end, new regulations or changes are always an opportunity for new projects and success.
What is the main thing that you’d like SiGMA readers to know about your traffic? Are you focusing on SEO? PPC? Any other traffic source?
Epic SEO traffic.
Are you contemplating bringing in investors to scale or grow your business? Or, with such a big M&A market, have you ever contemplated selling the business?
At the moment, we are not looking into bringing in investors. Selling might be an option at some point, at least when talking about certain markets.
What can operators do to increase support from affiliates?
Transparency, and to make contracts that are not only made in favour of the operators. The relationships between the operators and the affiliates should be built on trust.
Which qualities and skills are essential in an affiliate team/business?
Patience, when we talk about SEO and to be able to actually build a successful affiliate website. Also, to never give up. The most successful businesses always have several failures before they eventually “make it”.
How does technology play a part in your day-to-day?
I would say it is very essential for all online marketing companies. At Epicorns we use advanced analytics and tools to be able to track and improve our websites on daily basis. For the real technical part, we have an office in India with several IT professionals that make sure that everything is working like it should.
How is the Asian market shaping-up for affiliates?
We have some new upcoming websites within the Asian market, but they are still not launched, so cannot say much about this market yet.
What do you know now that you wish you knew when starting out?
I wish I would have known everything I know now, but back then. Building a business is always an adventure and a continuous learning process. You cannot know everything and be perfect from the start. But it would have been nice to know that everything will work out in the end. That there is no need to stress over small things.
What’s been your biggest nightmare to date?
It is difficult to mention one big one here. Working in online marketing and especially with SEO, I would say you have nightmares constantly!
Other constant nightmares are the new regulations, changes in bonuses, and closures of brands. They can all be a real pain in the ass sometimes.
What are the challenges in managing relationships with multiple operators?
Time. Time is always the issue, and since there is so many other things always going on, there is not much time left to be “social”. We recently hired an account manager, which is now taking care of all the relationships with the operators. He has been a huge help and a big step forward for our company.
What are the benefits of attending large iGaming events, and what can they do better?
Networking is obviously one of the biggest benefits, at least for our company, due to the fact that we are not based in any of the iGaming hubs, like Malta for example. It is also a great opportunity to meet all the already existing partners. And I mean who does not love the mixture of business & pleasure? Everyone who knows me probably also knows that I love wine, dining and parties!
Have you ever been to SiGMA? Would you consider attending SiGMA Manila or SiGMA Malta at some point?
Of course, I have been to SiGMA! I have been attending for many years already, and hopefully there will be many more years to come!
Tell us a bit about yourself – after all business is done between people, not just companies!
Hiking the Laugaveur route in Iceland. And if I can say another one, I have to mention Colombia as well. Incredibly beautiful country.
Favourite book ever read? Favourite book you look forward to read some day?
Millennium Series by Stieg Larsson, such a bunch of awesome books.
Where would you relocate with family if you had to pick one city?
Can I say Andorra La Vella? I mean I just love Andorra and living here, so I wouldn't like to relocate anywhere, at least for now. If some of the readers are interested in relocating to this awesome country, another project of ours is Andorra Advisors, a website offering plenty of good information about Andorra.
Wine is the answer. What was the question?
My favorite sport at the moment is of course skiing, but also padel tennis and hiking. Although I have been playing football for most of the years of my life, but at some point, my interest in football dropped.
- Skype – firstname.lastname@example.org (Our account managers skype)
- Email – email@example.com
- LinkedIn - https://www.linkedin.com/in/ninasparv/
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