WEBSITE VISITOR LOYALTY: DOES IT PAY?


How can an affiliate drive loyal traffic with the tools at hand?


THE INTERNET is a free market and, as such, users have the choice to visit any website they deem relevant to their needs. They are free to switch from one website to the next and. with the information overload that users are facing today, they will automatically switch to other websites if they cannot find the information/services they're looking for easily.

Thus, it has become harder than ever before to attract the right users to a website, convert them and keep them loyal. This applies to any website, including large established ones; a case in point is Facebook which has started to suffer from 'user fatigue' and could be facing tough competition from new services such as Google+. It goes to prove that loyalty cannot be assumed but must be earned and nurtured.

Customer loyalty is a crucial element of the success of any company - for gaming operators and affiliates alike. Keeping customers satisfied and up-selling to the same is much easier and less expensive than going after new players especially in increasingly saturated markets.

In the past, both operators and affiliates have, to an extent, adopted a 'leaky bucket' approach where new player acquisition was given a higher priority than retention. Given the increased competition, companies have to be more aggressive in their approach to new customers which is both increasing the cost of acquisition as well as potentially decreasing the lifetime value of the same customers. The offers that are presented to customers to switch from one brand to the next might be damaging the whole industry as more players become bonus hunters. This leads companies to offer increasingly better deals, pushing up the operating costs and dinumshing the overall value of players.

Therefore, it is important to change focus and start looking within the business. Look at the pool of customers you already have, devise ways to keep good players happy and reactivate dormant or inactive accounts. This could easily sound like the job of an operator but an affiliate has to do the same thing to keep players active and keep earning commissions.

What can an affiliate do in order to gain more loyalty from players?

Many affiliates use metrics such 'Number of Visits' or 'Page Views' or 'Followers' to determine the success of their website and applaud themselves when they see these figures increasing, but such figures only treat your players as simple traffic - there's no implied relationship that could lead to increased profitability... so what can an affiliate do in order to gain more loyalty from players?

Give visitors what they want

Potential players surfing the net have a wide array of websites they might choose to land on and use. However, what does your website stand for? What do your best players look for in your website? Is it the deals that you give, the content that you provide or the community that you have built around the product?
There are various ways to learn what visitors look for in your website, including using cookies that track the path visitors take and where they spend most of the time when on your website, and distributing an online survey amongst users.

Any way you do it, it is essential to determine what it is that keeps potential players coming. By knowing your most valuable players and what keeps them coming to your website (Unique Selling Proposition) you will be able to attract other players of the same profile as the ones you already have, thus, increasing your potential player base. At the same time, do not stop there; make sure that you are on top of your players' changing needs and that you adapt your offer accordingly, as your competitors are always looking at ways to attract your best customers.

Make sure to capture visitors' contact details

Today's Internet is all about connecting and building relationships with your customers. However, to build a relationship with one's own customers, one must ensure they have captured the contact details of the customer base. By asking for basic details such as username and email address, an affiliate will not only
be able to personalise the communication with his/her customer but also be in a position to track the player activity with the operator and work on different strategies based on the data.

It is important to note that few people will actually be willing to give you their contact details without knowing that they'll get something of value in return. There are various strategies you might adopt in attaining such contact details, including offering snippets (teasers) of premium content, trial services and also allowing users to sign-in to a Facebook app that requires them to share some basic details.

Do not pester your customers!

Everyone hates receiving spam or junk mail so make sure to use your contact database as carefully as possible. If you don't, players will soon block your email address and delete every email you send. Only send out communications to players when there's something of value to them that is in-line with what you offer on your website. This will increase the chances of the email being read and that it converts in up-selling.

People naturally feel more confident dealing with something they're familiar with, so relating the content of a newsletter or offer to the content of your website will increase your success rate. Another important thing to keep in mind when setting up a newsletter is to segment your customer base. People are not identical; they have different habits and characteristics and/or are interested in different things. Use this segmenting information to create a more personal relationship with your players.

The above is not an exhaustive list of what you can do to generate loyalty, but it's a good starting point. Be innovative in what you do and always keep an eye on what your customers want. Finally, treat visitors as your customers, not merely traffic, if you're looking for a long-term relationship rather than just dating.
 
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