Ashley Wood, CEO of iConvert, joins the latest series of affiliate interviews on Affiliate Grand Slam
iConvert was created to fill in a gap that there was in the market. iConvert is tailored to operators, and together with the consultancy and expertise provided, the results are incredible. Ashley Wood adds that they have a retention rate of 100% - follow his story below.
When and why did you start considering affiliate business as a career?
We knew there was a gap in the market. There are masses of fantastic CRM systems and expert teams working with operators on the player relationship, but there was no one focusing on the step before that. iConvert focuses on improving operators’ conversion rate optimisation, working on improving player acquisition and interacting with visitors to establish positive relationships, before the CRM team even knew the visitor was on the website.
What do you know now that you wish you knew when you were starting out?
The only thing that matters is results. You can have all the bells and whistles in the world, but ultimately, if the results are not exceptional then you will fail. Once exceptional results are achieved, everything else falls into place.
Tell us a bit more about your business model, concept and culture.
Our business model very much ties in with our aim to become the world’s leading iGaming conversion suite. We are in this for the long run and our business model reflects this. We don’t aim to work with our partners for three months, bleed them dry and run, quite the opposite. We prefer to make our solution extremely cost effective, and believe we will win in the long run. Our retention rate of 100% shows us that we’re doing the right thing.
What sets the iConvert software apart from other software? What makes it unique?
We are CRO experts, and the first company of it’s kind in the industry. The concept of iConvert was formed due to an influx of requests received at previous eCommerce CRO companies.
However, this technology was solely designed for eCommerce - traditionally based around shopping baskets and checkout forms, that simply aren’t relevant in the iGaming industry. We reengineered the technology to align with the iGaming industry, giving our partners the world's first iGaming conversion solution.
iConvert was born to enable iGaming operators to maximise their traffic and ensure conversions at the very highest level; all the way from registrations and first time deposits, to maximising lifetime value of their existing player base.
What helps make your performance successful? What are the main challenges?
We believe data is king. A very common approach to outdated overlay systems is to simply run a certain amount of campaigns, which either ‘spam’ everybody or aren’t personalised to the user.
How we differ is not only due to our system being truly tailored to operators, which enables us to run strategies other overlay providers can not do, but also the consultancy and expertise that we provide ensures the results we achieve are incredible.
Which markets are you eyeing up as a priority and why? Do you see any potential in the emerging markets?
We believe that we can bring immense benefits to any operator who is serious about expanding their player pool. We’re particularly focused on entering the US market at the moment. With things having recently become legalised, we think there is huge potential for iConvert’s growth within the US, and huge potential for us to support American operators in the growth of their platform.
Which niches work best for your affiliate marketing, and which are the most profitable? How did you find your most profitable niche?
Our niche is quite plainly that the software works. It’s a very simple solution to a problem many operators face. Additionally, through integrating with iConvert our operators have found that not only are they achieving wider player pools, but they are also achieving better overall ROI. Operators invest a lot of money into various marketing channels and we help our operators get more for their money, through an enhanced conversion rate.
How important is social media activity for your affiliate business? How difficult is it with Google’s constant updates?
We think it’s important to communicate with our clients and prospects via social media, educating them on our software and the benefits of partnering with the iConvert team. Social media can be a great learning platform when used in the right way, and is critical for brand building.
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?
We’d consider various options in the future, should the opportunity and investment suit our business with regards to growing the business in the right way.
Which qualities and skills are essential in an affiliate team/business?
Our staff are first and foremost great humans. We all work incredibly hard, and this is made far easier if the team works together like a well oiled machine. Above this, we’re all driven towards the same goal, and very client-centric. Our clients are who keep us in business, which is why we believe that one of the most crucial aspects of success is feedback, and truly working hand-in-hand with operators to immerse ourselves in their business and diagnose areas that could be enhanced to improve their overall conversion rate, ROI and profit.
Affiliate marketing is one of the most in-demand skills within the iGaming sector? Why in your view?
Word of mouth is one of the best marketing techniques out there because people are more likely to invest money into or spend time on something that has been recommended by someone they trust - and Affiliate marketing is an extension of this phenomenon. People seek out recommendations from trusted websites, so partnerships with Affiliates and getting placements on trusted websites bring you more traffic who are seeking websites like yours.
How does technology play a part in your day-to-day?
We wouldn’t be able to run our business without it! Everything from integrating our own software to client websites, paying our staff, producing marketing material and designing new campaigns for operators - there’s technology involved at every step.
Which emerging technologies like AI and big data will impact the affiliate industry in 2021 and beyond?
We use powerful machine learning algorithms to interpret and understand our clients’ visitor intent. Through analysis into visitor behaviour, the iConvert system helps operators to deliver the right messages to the right visitors, making sure each user's experience is entirely unique and relevant to what they need to see, dependent on the behaviour they display.
We feel like we’ve just touched the surface with AI and big data, but we think it will impact the industry in a huge way over the next year or so - we’ve just released our A/B testing capability, to further empower our operators with the data and knowledge they need to make the right decisions to grow their business.
How has the fragmentation of regulated markets affected your business? UKGC, Swedish regulator and now also the German regulator is mulling regulating this space.
This has had no affect on our business whatsoever. Upon starting iConvert, we fully aligned our business model with the UKGC / GDPR and in fact, welcomed the regulations to provide a more sustainable and safe playing environment for everyone.
What does it take for an affiliate business to thrive?
Can you foresee any growth for the affiliate business industry?
New and emerging markets is where I see the biggest growth opportunities, not necessarily in new technology/business models.
How do you choose your operators and how do you manage relationships with multiple operators?
No one operator is the same and we wouldn’t be truly focused on our own growth if we didn’t place them at the heart of everything we do. We fully immerse ourselves into the client's situation, helping to identify areas of opportunity and growth and work with them hand in hand to ensure they are maximising their potential. We strive for monthly check-ins with each of our operators to ensure that we are providing the best service possible and that there have been no changes that we should adapt to accordingly.
Have you ever been to SiGMA? SiGMA Europe, Africa, Asia or Americas - which of these four expo shows would you likely book on your diary for 2021, COVID permitting?
Yes! All if possible.
Tell us a bit about yourself - after all, business is done with people, not just companies! Your hobbies, favourite book, favourite quote, whether you are into gaming yourself etc?
Great question! My favourite hobbies are football, anything with wheels and an engine, taking my Sprocker Spaniel for a walk, and buying suits! I also have an avid interest in horology and biohacking. My favourite book is a tie up between Outwitting the Devil by Napoleon Hill or Release Your Brakes! by James Newman. I used to be a very keen reader, but you don’t grow your business by just reading unfortunately. My favourite quote might need censoring - it’s “just *** do it” by Daniel S. Peña, Sr.
In terms of iGaming - yes! I dabble occasionally in the iGaming world, more on the sports side to be frank. Now and then I might be in the mood for a quick dopamine hit via Jammin’ Jars, but typically I like to bet on live sporting events as I’m watching along.
Read more about SiGMA Affiliate Grand Slam here.
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