What I have learned during Covid-19 and how it will impact the affiliate business

The past few weeks have been horrendous!

Especially for those working in sports betting. With major sports events being cancelled we are in limbo waiting for the next move and trying to keep our heads above water while we all move into self isolation. Many small business owners are worried about how to pay their staff, continue operations working remotely, whilst homeschooling children and managing the mental impact social isolation and panic bulk buying is having on life as we know it.

It all became a bit too much for me this week.

I felt very doom and gloom. I couldn’t get clear on what to focus on next. I knew I had to reboot my mindset – fast. So, I took a one day hiatus out of my business (usually unheard of) and from my family to go hide from the world. I didn’t answer any emails.I told my team I’d be gone for 24 hours and they had to keep the fort going. I just disappeared off the internet to go be by myself.

Putting my “Big girl pants on” in the face of adversity

Never one to be idle, I decided to use this self imposed “alone” time to learn something new.

I booked an online training course, in the spur of the moment from an ad running in my Facebook feed. It was a 1 day workshop online to learn : How to plan a year’s worth of content in just a day. I figured this will be very useful as I’d soon be at home schooling my child whilst running my full time business, managing my team and servicing my clients – all at the same time. I needed to maximise mine!

Taking that course – changed my attitude and improved my mindset.

In case you don’t know I’m South African. We tend to handle any kind of drama very well. I mean we stood strong  through endless electricity load shedding – some days you have it , some days you don’t. Then there were those ridiculous water shortages and now this! When I have my game face on and my head in the right place – there is no problem that is too big for me to overcome.

I asked myself – What Will Lee-Ann Do?

Surprisingly, this question elicited some unexpected answers from me:

  1. I want to stop the panic and get super organised. Time is a valuable resource we’ll all have in short supply soon. Therefore I want to learn how to hack it like a pro. I have now signed up for a few courses to do this. I want to use experts to help me get things done faster than I can by myself. I know in the short term it will be invaluable to continue investing in training, mentoring, and learning.
  2. I want to help others stop the panic in their affiliate business – I am a big believer in pulling together to overcome hard times. I have always been told I’m a natural connector (part of the reason why I landed here in Affiliate Marketing). I want to help others get things done faster too. It starts with creating an open conversation, with collaboration, and duty of care to others. I set up a FREE and open invitation to join me on a Live Call and EVERYONE was invited. I have an amazing and supportive social community around me and a voice I could use to help them.
  3. I realized I may need to change in order to serve the new supply and demand. I am currently looking under the bonnet of what I have and how I can maximise it to support others more efficiently. It is going to be a time of change, but that’s ok. I want to serve the community I am operating in so that’s exactly what I intend to do.

Covid -19 made me reevaluate WHY I’m in business.

It made me look at who I want to help and how I want to be as a person in my business. It made me define what I get joy from doing, and what I don’t. It also made me take a long hard look at how my client’s behaviours might change and what I can do to still meet them.

Here’s the 3 things I learnt:

  • We’ve been through this before. We will get through it.

Anyone who has been around prior to 2006 in iGaming would remember the US shutting its doors quite literally overnight. Many iGaming businesses were majorly impacted and had to scramble fast and hard to recover. Some went bust. Things changed dramatically. But – we all survived. The industry grew year on year, new markets opened up, new brands launched and new jobs were created. Humans are resilient and with a bit of perspective we can overcome pretty much anything that ‘s thrown at us. I was one of the people who had to leave the iGaming industry to survive for a short spell. I remembered that experience was necessary then – as it made me the experienced affiliate marketer I am today!

  • Pivoting takes courage – and a LOT of quick thinking

The sports industry is most hit right now. I want to see how operators and affiliates will collaborate to get through this. I want to see how brands are going to pivot terms (quota’s and min payouts), strategies and budget focus. I want everyone to look under the bonnet of their business and understand how they are working and doing things right now. Get clarity on whether that still makes them happy or change it.  I see affiliates face this head on and already looking to create engaging content on virtual sports, new products and services and pivoting content on a page to live streaming. We operate in an agile market so how are we going to be making the best of this?

  • Don’t be afraid of change – go and embrace it!

There are hundreds of articles online about how COVID-19 will change the affiliate industry but here’s what I think might happen short term:

  • We will see affiliates focus on a wider diversification of traffic sources. SEO has already been affected and pricing for PPC surely will impact how traffic is obtained and re-sold to brands on site. This means the 80/20 reliance on top tier affiliates for volume will change. Everyone is going to be looking for new ways to target and convert customers. Everyone should be looking at increasing their affiliate base too.
  • We will see a bigger focus on community engagement and retention. Those that have the money to play online will need to be retained longer to balance the lack of incoming new registrations whilst this pandemic continues. Brands will need to be clever about how they engage and convert and retain audiences.
  • Affiliates will throttle forward with their usual speed and agility to pivot and monetise their audience base in different verticals and sectors. Deal bundling across multiple sectors could emerge. For example if I deposit and play at a casino – I could also get upsold a Black Jack strategy book on Amazon to improve my game. The commission earnings would be expanded for the affiliate as they try to capture more of the consumer’s spend cross sector.
  • Now will be the time to launch, scale and grow your affiliate program and get very strategic about how you attract, retain, convert inactive affiliates to your promotions.

In summary – All is not lost…

For now I’d like to say that these changes are short term, but already it doesn’t look to be the case. I think this whole thing will have a major impact on the way we do affiliate marketing in future but I do believe that those who pivot and don’t panic will pull through and learn a lot in doing so. The key thing is to get your mindset in the right place. Ask for help and stay connected to your customers, your partners and your community.  Stay strong and remember : #togetherwearestronger