Olga Lutova, Founder at Online Casino World, joins the latest series of affiliate interviews on Affiliate Grand Slam
Knowing the ins and outs of creating an affiliate business from scratch, a psychologist and a psychotherapist by education, Olga at Online Casino World, together with her husband, are ruling as an affiliate couple - follow her story below.
How did your affiliate business take off? And, is iGaming your only vertical?
I started back in 2012 with a casino review website focused on Russian market. It took a couple of years to establish in that space, but then it was one of the top sites in Russia. It is worth mentioning that it was a one-person operation and I did everything on my own - from writing the content to fixing technical issues that would rise.
Right now, it is almost impossible to continue existing in the Russian iGaming space because of regulations so I am moving on to other Geos.
iGaming is our primary focus, but I also did some affiliate business in crypto.
How did you first get into the affiliate space? And, were you always focused on the Gaming space?
I come from a different background – I am a psychologist and a psychotherapist by education and was practicing it when I first entered the affiliate business. Living in Malta, I met a lot of people in the industry, got interested, and decided to try it out. Later on, my husband, who’s background is in banking, joined me, and now we rule as an affiliate couple!
How is your company structured, and what aspect of business development are you currently focused on?
Our company is a family owned business. It’s just me and my husband. We work remotely from Malta.
Right now, our main focus is Middle East & North Africa - both casino and sports betting - New Zealand, and South Africa.
What can operators do to increase support with affiliates?
Constant updates about any changes. Not all operators do it; very few do. It would really help us to keep customers up to date with current offers.
How can affiliates be more unique in their approach?
I believe that affiliates should see things from their visitors' perspective, analyze their behavior, and correct the website’s content accordingly.
What makes your traffic proposition/traffic sites unique?
Our traffic is 100% SEO, content-driven traffic. Often, we concentrate on very low frequency keywords which other affiliates disregard, but that bring us most conversions. We write content not only for Google or Yandex, but for visitors. We don’t do PPC or social media advertising.
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?
I think at the end of the day it’s every affiliate’s goal – to sell their business at some point. I had offers in the past to sell my Russian website, but I was not ready to do it then. In the future when there is a good offer, we will definitely consider it.
Which qualities and skills are essential in an affiliate team/business?
Creativity, SEO knowledge, open mindedness, and flexibility.
What sets you apart from other affiliates?
I think what sets me apart is that I know ins and outs of creating an affiliate business from “0”. I met some affiliates who have never written a word, have no idea how to create a website, or how to do SEO. All they do is invest money and hire professionals to do it for them (I don’t say it’s a bad thing, don’t get me wrong). I learnt it all from scratch. I am like a restaurant owner who started as a dishwasher and made his way up.
How does technology play a part in your day-to-day?
We are not the ones who use top notch technical developments in our business. We do however try any new content or SEO software that comes out; however, experience shows that they only work 50% of the time. Their algorithms need to be improved. We believe that human component in 2020 is still very important.
Is the grass greener on the other side - have you considered going down the operator route?
We did consider it but at this point in time, affiliation is more attractive to us and we enjoy doing it.
Which markets are you eyeing up as a priority in 2020, and why?
India, Brasil, USA, Africa, and New Zealand. There is still a chance to take your niche there, in my opinion.
How has the fragmentation of regulated markets affected your business? UKGC, Swedish regulator and now also the German regulator is mulling regulating this space.
It did not affect us at all since we never worked with those markets.
How is the Asian market shaping-up for affiliates?
Asian market is becoming very important and big. We are very interested in the Indian market; it is the “easiest”, and the most attractive Asian market to us because of the language and because it is not regulated; however, it is quite different from other Geos that we are familiar with, and we still need to learn about it.
What do you know now that you wish you knew when starting out?
Not to buy cheap links.
What’s been your biggest nightmare to date?
Russia starting to ban online casinos and later affiliate websites.
What are the main challenges for the sector in 2020?
COVID-19 affected the sports betting sector and it is still to recover. Also, the latest Google algorithms update affected many websites, and affiliates need to learn and adjust to the new ways of promoting their websites.
What are your predictions for the future of the sector?
Even more merges and acquisitions, more affiliate and CPA networks.
How do you manage relationships with multiple operators?
I obviously prioritize those who reach out to me, keep contact with me, always send me updates about their brands, and give me the best deals, of course. I am also loyal in that way, so I prefer to work with operators I’ve known for a while and whom I can trust, and I am always happy to promote them.
What are the benefits of attending large iGaming events, and what can they do better?
For me it’s getting to know people, communicating, and learning from them. You learn something and get new ideas and insights from every conversation. That’s why I like to listen to people whom I meet during the iGaming events.
Have you ever been to SiGMA? Would you consider attending SiGMA Manila or SiGMA Malta at some point?
I go to SiGMA Malta every year, and I am very pleased to see how it evolved throughout the years and became a must to attend for everyone in the iGaming industry. I would also consider attending SiGMA Manila.
Tell us a bit about yourself - after all, business is done with people, not just companies!
My passion is travel, I love and believe in science, I enjoy watching movies and TV shows, I try to keep learning new things every day.
What’s on your must-read list right now?
I just started reading “Guns, Germs, and Steel”. I love reading non-fiction.
Which quote do you live your life by?
“Be yourself and stick to your own truth” that comes to mind right now. Always prioritize your own opinion and way of life in opposition to what others think and believe in.
Get to know other great affiliates, responsible for killer traffic!Click the link to read more insights from affiliates.
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