Pavel Pudakov, Business Development Manager at Finixio.com, 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?
Back in 2008 I was working for a large iGaming operator in London. I come from a completely different background, so initially the concept of digital marketing, and affiliation was all a bit Chinese to me. I did not even know what ‘affiliate’ meant to be honest.
Throughout my career in affiliate marketing I worked for several B2C consumer brands in iGaming, Cyber Security and lead generation platforms. I also run a few affiliate sites of my own in a VPN and iGaming niches as a hobby. It’s fun and it helps me understand the ecosystem much better.
Today I’m a Business Development Manager at Finixio.com. We are a large Digital Publisher and I’m currently working on insurance and funeral plans for learnbonds.com, one of our key websites.
How is your affiliate business structured, and what aspect of business development are you currently focused on?
We operate in several verticals including Personal Finance, Crypto, Technology, iGaming, and we’re constantly on the lookout for the next hot niche. We typically focus on organic traffic through writing quality value-added content. I oversee a few areas of business development from sourcing profitable niches, generating content ideas to traffic monetisation with affiliate deals and sponsored ads. So, if you’re an advertiser looking for laser-targeted traffic in those verticals, look no further.
Which markets do you focus on and do you see any potential in the emerging markets?
English-speaking countries, dominated by the US and UK generate the bulk of our traffic. We also have strong presence in Germany (30%+ of our revenue), particularly with crypto and technology keyword terms. Denmark and Poland are another examples where we do well. In terms of the emerging markets, if there’s a strong ROI opportunity we’ll definitely consider our options.
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 rank on Page 1 in Google across top keywords in various verticals and we continue to go from strength-to-strength. We successfully submitted many of our sites to Google News, and often publish our own unique research figures, statistics and analysis, an example of which you can see here.
One of our aims is to publish comprehensive answers to the questions of those who looking for on the internet, and achieve natural authority and referring backlinks from other news sites.
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?
Organic Search accounts for the bigger part of our traffic. We identify keywords and write brand & service provider reviews, product comparisons and targeted, rich content around particular use cases. Usually, good written reviews and product comparisons generate healthy conversion rates and Google loves this type of content. It allows us to harness the power of creative writing and attract more visitors to our sites.
We also run some PPC, FB and Native ads as well. The volumes are pretty small at the minute, but it’s definitely something we want to scale up in future.
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?
Raising capital or selling the business is outside of my competence, afraid my knowledge of it is limited. We’re not in a business of running expensive server network or selling our own product, so we don’t have a burden of heavy overheads neither. On a contrary, as part of our expansion plan we acquire established domains in various verticals. It helps us to get to a quick start and escape the heavy lifting of building the domain authority.
What can operators do to increase support from affiliates?
It’s important to understand that affiliates are in the game to monetise traffic and maximise their profits. Over the years I’ve noticed that the common issue the operators face communicating with the affiliates is that they accentuate on the benefits of their product/service too much. Instead, if you want more love from affiliates talk about how you can help to improve their EPC, share content ideas, best SEO practise, link building opportunities. But above all, put more resources to improving your onsite conversion and the checkout rates. If your conversion is low and you don’t know how to improve it, you can kiss good bye to those affiliates.
Which qualities and skills are essential in an affiliate team/business?
I think timely communication is of utmost importance. There are tons of products affiliates can promote; they are spoilt for choice. Often times when they reach out to the advertisers or register an affiliate account they are not getting a response for days, if not weeks. I personally had to phone advertisers to ask for a status update on our affiliate application. And it doesn’t need to go to that length, sometimes it seems that advertisers are put off from working with the affiliates rather than embracing it. Publishers can deliver incremental traffic to your brand , so it’s in both interests to establish a quick communication and build a rapport.
How does technology play a part in your day-to-day?
From data intelligence & analytics, to video conferences & online courses I use multiple online tools and applications in my day-to-day. I think digital marketing and technology go hand-in-and anyway, it’s integral. But, it’s also knowing which technology can serve the best purpose for your digital business. I’ve selected a handful of online tools that provide me with all the information I need to efficiently run errands. I’m also aware of a fast evolving digital ecosystem and I keep my eye out on the latest technology developments at all times.
How is the Asian market shaping-up for affiliates?
At Finixio we’re already witnessing an influx of traffic from India, the Philippines, Thailand, Indonesia and other Asian states. In fact, this month we just started working on our first fully dedicated South-East Asian language site, SahamOK.com. The reality of the economy right now is that most of this traffic doesn’t convert, however its high volume and low competition. Over a long term horizon Asian markets will be competing with the western countries and Japan across many sectors. Growing Asian economies will bring prosperity to the region, along with it the purchasing power of the Asian consumers will increase dramatically, thus the conversion rates. It’s music to the ears of digital marketers. It’ll create vast marketing opportunities and I think affiliates will be the driving force behind this movement.
What do you know now that you wish you knew when starting out?
How to drive & monetise traffic. I wish someone took me by the hand, and showed how to build a thriving passive online business back then. I’ve worked with plenty of individual affiliates who rake in thousands of dollars in affiliate commission every month. I realise now how simple it is. It might not be easy, but it is a solid and proven business model with virtually no fixed costs. In today’s financial climate, it really is fascinating to see how some people are crushing it online right now with nothing but a laptop and an internet connection.
What’s been your biggest nightmare to date?
If you're like me (and I suspect many of you are), you like to have things under control. The reality is, there’s so much going on that I don’t have time and that’s when I can’t control things. I think, the best approach is to be able to identify the areas that actually matter and just do it. The rest can wait.
What are the challenges in managing relationships with multiple operators?
Keeping everyone happy without compromising your own business goals and margins. As an affiliate or a publisher you take decisions about things like which operator or service provider to promote over the others, who to send your best traffic to. Sometimes these type of decisions might be challenging especially when dealing with reputable brands that sell very similar products.
What are the benefits of attending large iGaming events, and what can they do better?
The importance of meeting your clients face-to-face can often lead to lucrative deals and improved ad placements. Building a personal bond with clients creates trust and mitigates risks as well. What I also like about these events is networking and learning. Usually, it’s a busy 2-3 day schedule, so better come prepared and know what it is exactly you want to get out of it.
Have you ever been to SiGMA? Would you consider attending SiGMA Manila or SiGMA Malta at some point?
No, but I’d love to.
Tell us a bit about yourself – after all business is done between people, not just companies!
I think most people that know me would describe me as a simple, down to earth person. I’m a team player and I enjoy socialising. I like to stay active, I hit the gym few times a week and I’m a big football fan. Now that I have a family, I don’t have so much time to go out and mingle anymore, so most of my weekends I spend at home mowing my lawn, cooking and playing football with my son, Chelsea’s next top striker.
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