Affiliate vs referral marketing: what works for online casinos?

Affiliate and referral marketing are often confused due to the similarity of the attraction methods used. However, these are two completely different brand promotion strategies. The main differences are in the way traffic is attracted and in the reward payout strategies. Nevertheless, these types of marketing have been successful in the online promotion market for many years now.

Let’s take a closer look at the difference between affiliate and referral marketing, and figure out which is more suitable for promoting gambling offers.

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What is affiliate marketing?

So then, affiliate marketing is about attracting new customers and promoting an offer for a fee. The affiliates themselves develop their brand promotion strategy, invest in ad campaigns and independently bear all the risks and expenses.

It is important for an advertiser to get high-quality affiliate traffic, which is why they set up specific conditions that must be met for the webmaster to get paid. 

The affiliate link and terms of cooperation can be obtained directly from the advertiser or in the affiliate program.

Several major casino brands have their own casino affiliate programs. Others can join many existing affiliate networks and place their offer there. Interacting between affiliates and advertisers through the affiliate network is the most convenient way for all parties involved:



How does a casino affiliate marketing program work?

To understand how to make money in affiliate marketing, you need to first understand the way a gambling affiliate program works.
For example, a major casino brand decided to launch its own affiliate program. It’s basically a website where webmasters that want to partner up with the brand can register. Some affiliate networks ask for stats from previous ad campaigns to filter out inexperienced partners. Each webmaster gets an affiliate manager. After the webmaster’s info is verified, the full interface of the affiliate program becomes available to them. The usual sections include: stats, offers, working links, bonus programs and other optional sections. The most convenient part for a webmaster is that all the necessary tools are in one place and one with a user-friendly interface. 

This is why affiliate programs are usually classified as a separate type of business, even while it’s technically a subsidiary of a casino. Because maintaining the entire infrastructure requires a lot of funds. 

There are also multi-offer affiliate programs. They can offer hundreds of different offers to suit every taste and budget. Such affiliate programs exist as a separate type of business. Since the affiliate program takes a small cut for reselling traffic to an advertiser, it usually makes most of its profits thanks to large volumes.

Affiliate marketing expenses

There are 2 main sources of traffic in affiliate marketing: paid and shareware. The first category includes all sources that involve launching paid ad campaigns. Shareware online promotion strategies are the ones that involve promoting offers via your own blogs and content. You can start with such sources with minimal expenses and make most of the content yourself. When you start making a profit, you can outsource most of the work. However your main tool for attracting customers will still be the content, not ad campaigns.

Accordingly, affiliate marketing expenses can start at 0 (providing content for your Telegram channel or Instagram blog) and end at dozens of thousands of dollars a month (all invested in ad campaigns). 

In this area, there’s no need to settle on a single traffic source. That’s the beauty of it – complete freedom of action.  

What is referral marketing?

Referral marketing is a product promotion strategy that utilizes loyal clients, instead of ad campaigns. People who do the actual promotion (for a small reward) are called ambassadors or referrers. Usually, people with their own audience (this is who is offered the product) are invited to become ambassadors. And while only popular people become ambassadors, the road to becoming a referrer is open to anyone.
You need to pick a site where you will get the traffic from and start an active blog there. For example, a common online casino promotion strategy is using popular gambler bloggers who stream slot games of famous brands and win big prizes.

How does a gambling referral marketing program work?

There are two main models of referral marketing:



An example of a one-sided model is the promotion of an online casino through a blog or live streaming of games and an attached link for new players to register at.

The two-sided model is similar, but upon registration, the new player also receives a welcome bonus. Such a model can grow via the networking principle, when each new player can invite other players and if they accept, the former get a reward. Even a small reward encourages people to make purchases, since according to statistics, only 20% of satisfied customers will recommend the service to other people. That’s why small bonuses are used to stimulate people.

Referral marketing expenses

Referral marketing expenses can greatly vary. 

You can start by attracting shareware traffic by recording your own YouTube videos or stream games. 

Potential clients also love the “success story”: the trappings of a luxurious lifestyle and a sharp rise in income thanks to a win in the casino.

Another approach is to launch a large-scale referral campaign with the help of well-known bloggers, who will feature the brand in their videos and attach referral links for new users. Such campaigns can cost up to several thousand dollars, depending on the popularity of the referrals.

Referral Marketing vs Affiliate Marketing

When comparing referral and affiliate marketing, the most noticeable differences are the traffic sources. Both options require the person to have basic marketing skills and to understand the target audience.  

However, in affiliate marketing, the greatest profit is more often secured using paid traffic sources. Accordingly, the threshold for entering affiliate marketing is higher, and even more funds will be needed to scale your activities in the future.

For webmasters who prefer to work with shareware traffic sources, referral marketing might be the best solution. You can start promoting an offer with content that you can create on your own.

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Affiliate or referral marketing: what to choose for an online casino

When choosing a promotion strategy for an online casino, choosing between affiliate or referral marketing means missing the point. On the contrary, the most profitable option would be to use a combination of the two. Using affiliate marketing, you’ll be getting CPA payouts that will serve as funds you can reinvest. In turn, this traffic can attract new users via the referral model, thereby providing you with a passive source of income and increasing audience coverage.  

Just like in any other entertainment industry, all attraction methods will work and lead to profits, so for starters, it’s best to settle on one strategy until you fully master it. And after securing the first profits, you connect additional traffic monetization via another strategy. Bonuses and rewards that are used in referral marketing will only increase the volume of traffic.

Make sure the referral rewards are real and not just made up. Otherwise, this will damage the brand’s reputation and the casino will suffer losses as a result. Partners who drive this sort of traffic will be quickly cut off.

To secure a good ROI for any ad campaign, it is always preferable to choose several traffic sources and multiple marketing strategies. This way you get diversification, which is beneficial for any sort of investment. This is a time-tested method to protect your funds from risks.