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Affiliate Superstars: Interview with Christiaan Bollen

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christiaan bollen

Born and raised in Belgium, Christiaan Bollen (Boljoro) is among the few LRT Certified Professionals in the world.

EEGReport Magazine: Hi Christiaan, tell us a bit about yourself, we want to know who Christiaan Bollen really is. Where were you born? What was the key idea of developing these skills that got you so far in the industry?

Christiaan: I am born and raised in Belgium. As a kid, there was always a big interest in computers. In high school I started creating my first affiliate websites, it was a nice extra income for a teenager. Later in university I graduated in Software Development, during my time at university there was not so much time for the websites, there were other priorities during those years and the affiliate websites were put on hold.
After graduating at university, I started working as consultant in a local Belgian software development agency.

In the evenings after work the urge to make my own websites came back. At that time in 2012 in Belgium the gambling market just got legalized. Because there was not really a website that gave an overview of which casinos were legal I decided to make a website that gives an overview of legal gambling websites. I had no idea how much money there was to make as an affiliate in this industry.
My first website Goedgekeurdegoksites.be started small, an overview of all the legal websites with some information and a few affiliate links. From time to time some extra news was added. Nothing big. After some months the income became bigger and bigger. Later I decided to stop working as software developer and started up my own company. Today Goedgekeurde Goksites is one of the biggest iGaming affiliate websites in Belgium. The website also has a version for the French speaking part of Belgium, Jeux de Casino Approuvés .

Being an affiliate gives you a lot of freedom. As long as there is an internet connection and you have your laptop with you, you can work. There are even some people who claim to do all their work on their smartphone.
Having all the freedom in the world, last year I decided to move to Barcelona, my favorite city. The company is now also officially in Spain. Soon more Spanish and International websites will be released. At the moment those are in development.

What I like and focus on is SEO. In the 5 years I have been to many SEO conferences and got really good in it. Last year I was honored to join the SEOktoberfest, one of the most exclusive SEO conferences with all top experts. Sometimes I also speak as SEO specialist at conferences.
Going to conferences gives me a chance to travel around the world and discover new places. It is also a good variety in my daily life as affiliate.

EEGReport Magazine: Since there are hundreds of Search Engine Optimization, Online Marketing and Web Development agencies out there, where do you think Boljoro stands in relation to the competition at this moment?

Christiaan: Boljoro is a small company, I mainly do consultancy work as SEO specialist. Build an SEO strategy for a company that their in house team can execute.
It is hard to say about myself but I believe my knowledge is above average of other SEOs. Going to many conferences talking with other experts but also getting ideas from other people you talk with. It doesn’t always have to be an expert that has good ideas.
Being part of closed communities like the SEOktoberfest gives me the opportunity to be in close contact with people from Google, Facebook, LinkedIn and big agencies. This is my biggest source of information. It benefits me as affiliate and my clients.

EEGReport Magazine: Tell us which markets do you target with Boljoro and in which fields/niches are your clients active?

Christiaan: The biggest market for Boljoro is still Belgium, next to that the focus is going to Spain as we relocated. As I am an igaming affiliate, the igaming niche is the most important. But Boljoro also has clients in other niches, the car industry for example.

In the beginning you try to get clients and don’t really focus on a market. Now there is so much work that I don’t take random customers in different markets anymore. My focus is on the gambling industry. I am open to new projects in other markets but only if they are interesting enough for me.

Boljoro

EEGReport Magazine: We know that you’re constantly travelling, could you share the most interesting events that are dedicated to SEO/link building or affiliate conferences/events?

Christiaan: The most interesting SEO conference for me is Ungagged, this conference is 2 times a year. In June in London and in November in Las Vegas. For a igaming affiliate the fact that it is in Vegas is an extra plus.
If you focus on a specific country, try to go an SEO conference in that country. The local people will have their own strategies that you can learn from. Some things work different in other countries.
Always try to blend in with your competitors if you do SEO, just be a little bit better then them.

For the igaming affiliates, they can not miss the London Affiliate Conference. This conference makes it possible to talk affiliate managers from most of the brands. The other iGB Affiliate conferences are also good but there are less brands present. At the iGB events lately the level of SEO presentations also got better.

EEGReport Magazine: Google rolled out it’s final version of Penguin, what’s your angle on this “real-time update” ?

Christiaan: Calling it the final version might not be so accurate, it keeps getting updated. You have to be even more careful with your link profile as they can push a change every day. One of these updates might have a big influence on your website. My advice is to keep a clean link profile.

EEGReport Magazine: How about Google’s New Mobile Index?

Christiaan: An obvious evolution, mobile had a big growth in the last decade. These days everyone is walking around with a smartphone and using it whenever they can. The amount of mobile traffic got higher than desktop. It is normal that Google follows this evolution and puts mobile before desktop now.

EEGReport Magazine: Can you tell us how did you see this year in terms of Google and what do you predict for the New Year, any major updates or so that you expect?

Christiaan: Continuing on the previous question, mobile got more important. We saw Google put the mobile friendly tag first, now the mobile first index. In the next year I expect that AMP will grow more and become more important. Or at least that is what Google wants. This way they have even more control over the internet.

EEGReport Magazine: Which term do you prefer link builder or link earner, and why?

Christiaan: Link earner, the links you can earn naturally are probably way more relevant and helpful for the reader. This will also reflect in the user behavior on your website which will have a positive impact on your SEO. These links are also more likely to convert your users. After all that is what you want to do with your site.
Buying links is possible but be careful what you do, Google is watching. I prefer earning links.

EEGReport Magazine: How do you see this “new era” in the backlinks world, I mean is content king in your opinion?

Christiaan: Don’t believe people who say that links don’t matter, they do. Even Google’s, Gary Illyes said it last year: “Ranking without links is really, really hard”.

EEGReport Magazine: Do you use metrics like Alexa Rank, PA and DA, Trust Flow and Citation Flow. if yes what’s your opinion about these?

Christiaan: For me metrics are important, mainly I use Trust Flow and Citation Flow. Next to that I also use Link Research Tools Power and Trust.
But don’t get to focused on metrics. You also have to visit the website. See how it looks, what is your “feeling” about a website. The more experience you have as an SEO this feeling will become more accurate and clear. There are so many factors that matter.

A website with lower metrics can be better for your link profile than a website with higher metrics. It is important that the content in which your link can be found is related to your website. The website must fit yours.

Be careful with websites or self-called SEO’s or marketers that try to sell you links. Many times they manipulate you into buying to expensive links. Alarm bells should start ringing if you get an email from company@gmail.com that has these great links for sale.
Always try to check the history of a website. How long has it been online, did it have a big change in the last months, has it been offline for some time, etc.

EEGReport Magazine: Let’s talk affiliates a bit, how do you see the future of the online casino/gambling industry? For instance, will it become a truly global phenomenon?

Christiaan: Is it not already global? Gambling is everywhere over the world, online and offline. Where people have the possibility to go online there will be people gambling online. There are also affiliate websites all over the world. Some regions might not be as popular as others but when casinos or affiliates see a way to earn money they are there.

I am not sure how legal it will be in different places in the world. As we can see in Europe, more and more countries start legalizing online gambling. The reason they give for this is to help people, don’t get them into debts or addicted. According to me their main reason is that they see a way to earn more money by charging taxes for gambling.

EEGReport Magazine: Do you have any advice that you would like to offer to newbies who are looking to venture into this great industry!?

Christiaan: 100% agree, this industry is great. For newbies, don’t give up! It is a really hard and competitive market. You need confidence that you can do it, make a plan. You will need a lot of patience.
Don’t expect that it will be easy or quick money. You should work hard for it and it will take time. It can take months or a year before you earn your first euro. If you plan to give up your job for it, don’t do it. You need savings to go through the first year or keep your current job next to it.

EEGReport Magazine: Tell us one change that you want to see in the online casino/gambling affiliate world?!

Christiaan: More cooperation between (European) countries in their gambling laws. Every country has its own laws, in some countries the laws are even different for parts of the country like in Germany.
Affiliates but also gamblers can’t see the wood for the trees. As I told before, this was the first reason for me to start up my main website Goedgekeurde Goksites. Everything I publish on my website is legal in Belgium. If you translate the title to English it is “Approved Gambling Websites”. I want my visitors to be able to browse my website without having to worry about legal stuff when they are on my website.

EEGReport Magazine: Where would you like to travel in Eastern Europe?

Christiaan: Everywhere, I love traveling. I have only been to Budapest, Hungary, in Eastern Europe. In the future I hope to see more of the East of Europe. Usually my travels are a combination of work and fun. I go to a conference and stay a bit longer to explore the area. If you can advice me any conferences?

EEGReport Magazine: Do you have region or country that you wouldn’t want to visit in Eastern Europe, if so why?

Christiaan: There is no specific country that I would not like to visit. The only thing places I wouldn’t want to go to are places where it is not safe.

 

This interview Affiliate Superstars: Interview with Christiaan Bollen appeared first on EEGReport Magazine.

 

Affiliate Announcements

Digital Marketing Mixer to be hosted for second iteration of FREE business networking on 30th June

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Digital Marketing Mixer to be hosted for second iteration of FREE business networking on 30th June

 

 

Last month saw the launch of the first Digital Marketing Mixer, a FREE business networking event created by Lee-Ann Johnstone which hosted over 150+ iGaming and Affiliate Marketing professionals in attendance.

The event which received outstanding delegate reviews, will be hosted again on Monday 30th June between 4-6pm (BST) via Zoom. The aim of the speed networking event is to bring together affiliates and digital marketers, technology providers , agencies, experts and marketing service providers together to promote their services virtually.

With limits on travel and attendance at physical events still in play opportunities to network for new business have been limited. That combined with increased remote working has had a natural impact on business development slowing in the short term.

The Digital Marketing Mixer has been created as an open platform for professional social networking to take place in a structured but relaxed virtual atmosphere. The event has been created to support new business and continued lead generation for all businesses operating in the Affiliate industry.

Lee-Ann Johnstone, the event host commented: “The Digital Marketing Mixer is a key event for digital and affiliate marketing businesses to get better connected during this uncertain time. The objective is simple, bring people together to talk, to collaborate and ensure new business and service opportunities continue to thrive. I’ve created this FREE networking event for EVERYONE to benefit from in the affiliate industry to help get new business deals done.”

The mixer remains 100% FREE for delegates to attend and is open to any vertical. Once again the event is held in collaboration with founding collaborators GPWA.org, iBet Directory, and AffiliateINSIDER collaborating to deliver this event.

“The toughest part of the conference experience to replicate online was always going to be those oh-so-important conversations in the bar. I was delighted to find myself in just such conversations at the Digital Marketing Mixer – top marks! “  said Sue Dawson from bestnewbingosites.co.uk who attended last month’s inaugural event. 

The Digital Marketing Mixer will offer a host of  fun networking games, speed selling challenges and enable delegates to enjoy discussing the latest industry trends whilst providing a platform to market their goods and services. The focus of this event remains on getting digital and affiliate marketing professionals quickly connected, getting new deals – done!

Lloyd Richman, founder of iBet Directory commented: The Digital Marketing Mixer Party is a great concept and offers all delegates the option to contribute unlike other webinars and conferences. It had a good mixture of natural event speakers, experienced iGaming professionals and new people to the industry. A great event which was highly successful.

If you are an agency, affiliate, consultant, operator, digital marketer, payment provider or saas product owner, everyone working with or in the affiliate industry is welcome to attend.

RSVP FOR FREE and join the Digital Marketing MixerHERE

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Affiliate Announcements

Mr Gamble is the fast growing iGaming affiliate taking the world by storm

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Player-friendly approach to casino comparisons sees audience grow to new highs 

In January 2019, two iGaming enthusiasts from southern Finland, Paavo Salonen and Jonas Kyllönen, created an affiliate site which follows a different path to competitors in the sector – Mr-Gamble.com was conceived to provide a user-friendly service that details the key benefits for different online casinos.

In a little over a year, the team at Mr-Gamble (owned by CashMagnet Ltd) has grown from two to sixteen people, and their site is attracting millions of views and an audience of thousands, eager to find a more discerning comparison site for online casinos.  With such impressive growth, the company is now moving to bigger offices in their adopted home town of Tallinn, Estonia.

Putting the players first has been key to this success, with the team’s focus to build a casino comparison site which highlights the various benefits from leading online casino operators.  Easy-to-use filters allow players to match specific search criteria to their needs, such as high quality casino bonuses, with a brand promise to help users “find a 200% bonus in under one minute”.

 

Moreover, with responsible gaming high on regulators agendas for 2020, not least due to COVID-19, Mr-Gamble’s onboarding policies for new casinos include strict criteria to ensure player protection.  Time-out periods, self-exclusion options, financial limits, and more are all in place to reassure players that beyond the entertainment factor, their well-being is key. 

Jonas Kyllönen explains, “While our competitors focus simply on the bonus offer and a select few aspects of gaming, Mr-Gamble.com highlights things like hidden T’s & C’s and other small details that make up the overall quality of a casino’s service and the bonuses they offer. We even include a section purely for casinos that offer free spins, allowing players to find free spin offers without deposits.  This sets us apart from old school affiliates and builds trust with our audience, resulting in a high proportion of returning visitors.”

Kyllönen, who leads on all aspects of marketing for Mr-Gamble, also realises that staying plugged in to media platforms such as Twitch and Instagram enable the company to attract some of their users from the elusive millennial market.  

“In just six months”, says Kyllönen, “we became the most watched slots channel on Twitch in Finland, and alongside our Instagram following, this allows us to stay in touch with our audience across multiple touch points – it’s been key to our growth. We still see SEO and PPC as the main pillars of the casino affiliates sector, but complimentary channels like Twitch are both entertaining and good for business.”

This well-rounded approach to the casino comparison sector is both innovative and forward-thinking, standing the company in good stead for the coming decade, during which adapting to change and staying on top of market trends will separate the men from the boys.

Mr Gamble’s affiliate offering is already well-established in Finland, and in April 2020 Mr-Gamble expanded operations to more English-speaking markets including the UK and Canada. The company also plans to target the US market, with licensing currently underway, and is looking at opportunities in Asia. 

Alongside Finnish casino enquiries, the company invites English language operators from international markets, particularly in the UK and Canada, to contact silver@cashmagnet.money for more information on deals and listings. 

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Affiliate Success

Exclusive Q&A with Marinos Shiapanis, CEO at Campeón Gaming Partners

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Exclusive Q&A with Marinos Shiapanis, CEO at Campeón Gaming Partners

 

We shall begin with the iGB award. How do you feel after winning this award? Had you expected this award?

We really didn’t. This was our very first time being nominated at the iGB Affiliate Awards and, given the fact that the competition was really high, we were not expecting to hear our name. Needless to say, we were – and we still are – overwhelmed and very excited. It was a team effort, and this is why we celebrated as a team after receiving the award in London.

This is the first time Campeon has been nominated for iGB Awards. And you hit the bull’s eye in the first instance itself. How do you see this honour: as a reward of your hard work or as a stepping stone for future innovation?

I think it is a little bit of both: it is definitely a reward and a recognition of the whole Campeón Gaming Partners team’s hard work and effort, but, at the same time, this is a stepping stone for us to do more, invest more in innovation, expand and further develop across all sectors. The whole team, and especially the Affiliate & Partnerships team, really devoted themselves to the company and they are the reason we have managed to win this award. Such an award is extremely important for us, as it shows how far we have gone in such a short period of time; we have managed to slowly establish ourselves in the iGaming industry, become a familiar face for affiliates in the market, expand our network and grow as a team and a brand. However, winning this award doesn’t mean we stop here; this is not just a motivation for us, but an obligation as well to work harder, focus more and deliver even better results. I think you will hear more of us the coming months.

The award recognises how Campeon stood out in terms of “transparency, inclusiveness and continuous support”. What are the things unique to the affiliate program of Campeon Gaming Partners?

Since the beginning, our vision was to create an affiliate program that would not only attract affiliates, but it would also keep them engaged. We started off with a small network and as we were building it up, we were also improving our program. Today, our network is comprised of over 1,000 affiliates and our affiliate team has managed to establish personal relationship with each and every one of them. To us, it’s crucial to put a face to the name; it’s not just about numbers, it’s about having a person who you know will listen to you and deal with your issues no matter how big or small. This is our way of thinking: we treat each affiliate’s request as equal, and I believe that our affiliates appreciate this.

In early 2019, our team dedicated themselves into redesigning the program’s strategy, aiming at building stronger, more interpersonal relationships with our partners, and providing them with better models in order to maximize their profits. At the same time, we optimized the affiliate experience, from the registration of the player, all the way to the affiliate statics’ analysis we have successfully merged, integrated, and incorporated all of the Campeón Gaming Partners’ brands into new platforms, ensuring that no affiliate activity was ever disrupted.

The award also mentions how Campeon offered tailor-made program to the affiliates. Could you shed more light into the deeply customizable affiliate programs of Campeon Gaming Partners?

Each affiliate has his or her own needs that looks into serving through a program. At Campeón Gaming Partners, we understand that, and every time we onboard an affiliate, we go into deep discussions with him or her to understand what they are looking for in our program. I think the most important fact for our affiliates is that we assign them their very personal point of contact, who is there for them whenever they are in need. So, when we onboard a new affiliate, we first assign him or her their point of contact, who makes sure to talk to him or her, understand his or her needs and goals and together they create a program tailor-made to the affiliate’s needs.

What are the qualities that you look forward to in an affiliate? Not all affiliates are likely to become successful, right? Based on your experience, what separates the successful affiliates from the rest?

We want our affiliates to treat us the same way we treat them: with respect and transparency. We always do our best to accommodate our affiliates’ needs, so we are looking into building partnerships based on trust. I think this is the most important part for us.

Regarding the second part of your question, I believe that definitely industry knowledge and audience play a significant part in separating successful affiliates from the rest. But besides these, I think that players are looking for affiliates who will be honest with them, affiliates they can trust; I believe it is the only way to build up a players’ audience.

New new social media platforms are increasingly micro-targetting the end customers and automated CRM tools are getting more and more advanced. In this scenario, how do see the future of affiliate marketing evolving?

I believe that affiliate marketing is already changing and with these new tools it will change even more in the future. We are now entering a new era: the digital and customized era. Customers are increasingly becoming more and more demanding; they now know they don’t have to compromise anymore with mass solutions, so they are asking for customized ones. They demonstrate their needs and preferences and demand for an experience tailor-made to them. I believe this is where affiliate marketing will focus in the future, and all the new or upcoming tools available, will give us the advantage of analysing the customers’ behaviours and providing the best solutions to them. Affiliate marketing of the future will evolve around customized player’s experience, in my opinion.

Finally, tell us about any big announcement in the near future. Expanding to more countries? Launching or integrating new products? Or a new marketing campaign? Our readers will be eager to read something first here.

A couple of weeks ago, we launched our first Pay N Play platform for the Scandinavian market, SvenPlay. In a few days, we will be launching our brand new, themed platform, Sons of Slots. This is a challenge for us, as it will be the first time we are introducing such a themed platform to our players. The Sons of Slots story goes back to the motor gangs of the US and it all evolves around that; rough street battles, leather jackets and ripped jeans, long hair, and endless road trips on their Harleys. This is what inspired us and we wanted to bring something very exciting to our players. Entering the Sons of Slots platform, our players will be transferred to a new world, the world of American motor gangs; they will play their favorite games in a new, adventurous environment, with exciting features, which will take their gaming experience to a whole new level. To bring this project to life, we have invested heavily in technology and this is why we partnered with a major agency, MaxCreate, specialized in bespoke front-end design, in order to be able to offer more flexible and versatile platforms to our players and to our affiliates.

I think 2020 is our year, and people will hear more of us: exhibitions, PR, awards… We will make it happen.

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