Steven Hubbard: ‘If you really want to be unique, don’t buy any links. Try putting all your money into creating useful content and a great website’
Focusing intensely on a small number of products and creating useful content, Steven Hubbard and his team claim it to be the key to their success – follow his story below.
How did your affiliate marketing business take off? And, is iGaming your only vertical?
I joined Swegaming in early 2018 with the role of running and improving an existing UK based website, Bettinglounge.co.uk. Naturally, it took a little while until the product started to see results. Then we branched out with BettingGuide.com; launching into India, Nigeria, Canada, and Sweden so far. At present, I only work in the iGaming industry for Swegaming.
How did you first get into the affiliate space? And, were you always focused on the Gaming space?
I had never worked in affiliate marketing, or in iGaming before, and essentially stumbled into the opportunity. I had just moved to Sweden and saw an English job advert which combined sports and betting, two of my interests at the time, and during the interview I was sold on the role of affiliate marketing. I have spent the past two years learning from a well-established affiliate marketing company in Sweden and continue to develop, learn, and improve with a sole focus on the iGaming space.
How is your company structured, and what aspect of business development are you currently focused on?
I am currently the project manager for our English-speaking affiliate sites in the iGaming industry, and I run the day to day operations of these websites, SEO strategy, content creation, social media, and more.
What can operators do to increase support with affiliates?
Improved communication could be a good start. Often, it is difficult to reach the affiliate managers, and the high manager turnover makes it difficult to build lasting relationships.
How can affiliate marketers be more unique in their approach?
Consistently creating unique content with the users in mind, creative link baits for natural link building, and a clean, user-friendly website could help. But, if you really want to be unique, don’t buy any links. Try putting all of your time and money into creating useful content and a great website.
What makes your traffic proposition/traffic sites unique?
I believe our intense focus on a small number of products is what makes our sites unique. This consistently improves our sites while creating informative content for our visitors.
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?
As a product manager, I have never thought about this, and I have never contemplated selling any of the websites I manage.
Which qualities and skills are essential in an affiliate marketing team/business?
I would say there is certainly a need for resilience to deal with the dramatic ups and downs in affiliate marketing. It is safe to say there will be a down at some point, and how you respond to it will determine if you survive in this industry.
What sets you apart from other affiliate marketers?
I believe the close-knit relationship of the team at Swegaming allows us to continually learn, improve, and develop from each member. Also, our focus on a few key products allows us to put in the necessary time and work to create websites that will succeed, and continue to succeed in this competitive industry.
How does technology play a part in your day-to-day?
With the global pandemic dramatically changing the day to day work life, technology has allowed us to continue developing and improving our products as if we were still working in the office.
Which emerging technologies like AI and big data will impact the affiliate industry in 2020 and beyond?
I have not looked into this to be honest, and know far too little about this subject to give any real answer.
Is the grass greener on the other side – have you considered going down the operator route?
I have never considered going down the operator route, and I am perfectly content on the affiliate side of the industry.
Which markets are you eyeing up as a priority in 2020, and why?
In 2020 so far, we launched into Nigeria, India, Canada, and Sweden. I believe the first three have real potential in the future, and Sweden is mostly because we know the market well. But it is getting pretty rough in Sweden. We also have our eyes set on the US in the near future, and maybe some more emerging markets, potentially in South America, Africa, and Asia.
How has the fragmentation of regulated markets affected your business? UKGC, Swedish regulator and now also the German regulator is mulling regulating this space.
So far, we have not seen too much difference in the UK market, in fact, it has mostly been positive for us. Of course, we notice the changes, but I believe some of them have benefited affiliates, such as the closure of high-street betting shops. We are seeing an increase in operators leaving the UK and that is disappointing.
How is the Asian market shaping-up for affiliates?
At the moment, I only know a little bit about the Indian market, and its growth is encouraging. I will continue to monitor the Asian market, but India is our only focus in Asia right now.
What do you know now that you wish you knew when starting out?
Be cautious when choosing which brands/operators to work with. Check GPWA and Affiliate Guard Dog to see how they have treated other affiliates in the industry.
What’s been your biggest nightmare to date?
I have been quite fortunate to not experience any big nightmares yet, but it was a long time of grinding and hard work without seeing any big movement in the SERP.
What are the main challenges for the sector in 2020?
The global pandemic has been a pretty big challenge for the sector so far, but it has been challenging for almost every sector. For the UK, the increasing compliance and regulation have also made it quite tough as we continue to see operators leave the market. But I think the biggest challenge is the increase in competition.
What are your predictions for the future of the sector?
It feels like increased regulation will continue to play a big part in the future, I am just hoping it does not go too far, and push more people into illegal gambling sites.
How do you manage relationships with multiple operators?
Personally, I add affiliate managers on Skype to avoid the delays that often come with emails. I found it is a good way to get to know the managers better, and have a more business casual element to the conversations.
What are the benefits of attending large iGaming events, and what can they do better?
I have only attended a few large iGaming events, but, have always come away with better relationships, and connections to other affiliates and operators. Meeting face to face has always improved my working relationship with existing partners, and helped build new partnerships which can be difficult when only talking online.
Have you ever been to SiGMA? Would you consider attending SiGMA Manila or SiGMA Malta at some point?
I am yet to go to SiGMA and was hoping to attend this year before the pandemic ruined most travel plans.
Tell us a bit about yourself – after all, business is done with people, not just companies!
I love to travel, especially to countries and cities with ancient history and architecture. Sadly, it is difficult to travel right now, but it has given me a lot of time to plan trips.
What’s on your must-read list right now?
To be perfectly honest, I consume mostly online content and have not read a book for a few years now.
Which quote do you live your life by?
‘Some people want it to happen, some wish it would happen, others make it happen.’
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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.