Sander Delabie, CEO & Founder at Clovio, joins the latest series of affiliate interviews on Affiliate Grand Slam
Working as directly as possible with operators, Sander Delabie and his team at Clovio are quick to find out about new product launches, promotions, and other novelties - follow his story below.
How did your affiliate business take off? And, is iGaming your only vertical?
During my teen years, I established a number of video game related blogs, and quite quickly it was more about creating websites rather than playing video games. I learned a lot about content creation, SEO, and along the way I happened to discover affiliate marketing. Through my marketing studies, my interest in online marketing only grew, which led to the start of my professional career as an independent online marketer who ran a couple of affiliate websites on the side.
At the beginning of 2014, I decided to go full-time with my own affiliate projects, and right at that time I established our first Feeling Lucky website in Belgium. Best Reviews, a review portal covering various software and online products and services, is another one of the main websites that make up our current portfolio of media outlets with Clovio.
iGaming is, and will remain, an important vertical for us. Currently we run Feeling Lucky in about ten countries, and expect to keep expanding in other geos.
How is your company structured, and what aspect of business development are you currently focused on?
The majority of our Clovio team with works on the most essential part of our media: content. Most of us are located in Portugal, with team members based elsewhere in Europe as well. We’ve always been firm believers in the home office concept combined with great flexibility in how we organize our work around our lives. Every now and then, we like to meet up for a team event and go laser shooting, puzzle our way out of an escape room, or simply enjoy a couple of craft beers together.
In my day-to-day work I’m involved with various aspects of business development and other operations. I support our partnerships team in establishing partnerships, negotiating deals, and coming up with new content initiatives for our content team to elaborate. Across all of our activities, I try to set out a structure for the whole company and for all the websites that we run so that we can continue to expand in other geos and verticals.
What can operators do to increase support with affiliates?
We’d love to collaborate more closely with operators to come up with creative content. Many operators still consider their blog as something that gets a subtle link on their main site to serve SEO purposes, while their YouTube channel doesn’t get the creative content it deserves. With Feeling Lucky, we’re all about content and taking a creative approach to present brands and their products. We love to learn and experience from operators how they see their brand, the story they want to bring to engage their players, and the way they’re telling this story across their various marketing channels.
How can affiliates be more unique in their approach?
We apply a lot of things that we pick up from our publisher in verticals' activities which are entirely different from gambling. You can learn a lot from being active as a gambling affiliate in different geos and dealing with various gambling product types, but our learnings from other niches lead to the greatest innovations for Feeling Lucky. Experiencing other market situations, the different ways in which advertisers position themselves and work with their affiliates, the search behavior of users… I believe what sets us apart is the takeaways we picked up by continuously exploring diverse verticals and markets.
Besides, while gambling is a fun product to deal with, it’s refreshing to also deal with other sorts of products and services.
Is the grass greener on the other side - have you considered going down the operator route?
I’ve thought about it, and I think it would make a good challenge and a nice experience; one through which I could discover novelties to be used with Feeling Lucky as well. I think that with the knowledge I’ve built up so far, I would have great fun setting-up a product in the market. I would have a lot to learn about the technology needed to operate a gambling site, how to provide the best player support possible, and getting all the legal work in place, but I’m confident I’d have fun getting that going.
Which qualities and skills are essential in an affiliate team/business?
One of the neat things about affiliate marketing is that, regardless of your area of expertise, there will always be ways to start out and become successful. In my early days, my forte was SEO and writing copy that fits the searcher’s intent, which are a necessity to grow content-driven affiliate sites. Along the way you notice areas where you lack expertise and need help from dedicated experts. The development of our websites is one of those areas that I don’t have the skills for, so it’s a no-brainer to rely on support from another team member for that. I’ve always been obsessed with the quality of our content, and while I know content and how to sell through it, it quickly came to a point where I decided to team up with expert writers to make sure our content is superb.
How do you manage relationships with multiple operators?
We try to work as closely as possible with operators, meaning we typically try to work directly with them. By making the contact as direct as possible we are quick to find out about new product launches, promotions, and other novelties that we want to make the audiences of our websites aware of. Since we aim to establish long-term and mutually beneficial partnerships, it’s worthwhile to invest time and effort in maintaining those relationships. Often those operator relationships also lead us to establish new websites in other geos and explore new opportunities that come out of our partnership.
What are the benefits of attending large iGaming events, and what can they do better?
iGaming events are the perfect way to meet face-to-face with affiliate managers and other people in the industry. We like that everything we do is digital, making the world our playground, but coming together and meeting in person makes it all more human and contributes to the growth of a relationship. I feel we get the most out of attending events by knowing who are the people attending, and connecting with them in advance to arrange a meeting during the event.
The hustle and bustle on event floors sometimes makes it difficult to sit down with other attendees to talk, which is why I believe it would be good for event organizers to have more meeting areas and to make it easier to schedule meetings with attendees through the event’s app and website. As an affiliate, we would like to learn more about the latest games, technology, and other updates from affiliate marketing technology providers and game developers. Events could be a way for us to familiarize ourselves better with those software providers and learn how they work with the operators that we’re partnered with.
Which quote do you live your life by?
“It’s always day one.” I recently discovered this philosophy that Jeff Bezos has been living by and like to remind myself of this thought. Today, you can build on the accomplishments of yesterday, and learn from the things that went wrong. You already know that tomorrow is going to be day one again, so you shouldn’t rest on your laurels and take things for granted. It’s a thought that keeps you on your toes, while it also makes you optimistic about the opportunities that lay ahead.
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About SiGMA Europe - Malta
SiGMA Group has announced the postponement of its Europe summit, which was planned to be held in Malta on 17-19 November 2020. The show will now open its doors early next year in February, running from the 16-18th, making it the first event to headline the 2021 gaming calendar.