This is another subject that I have written and spoken about several times in the past. It is a topic however that is very important and has made many poker affiliates a great deal of money.
Taking your poker affiliate business global and promoting within several different markets can be extremely profitable. However there are some things you need to consider when branching into markets that may be foreign to you.
There is no question that having your website translated into several different languages will be profitable. This chapter however is about some of the challenges and considerations for poker affiliates when entering new global markets.
Ever since the UIGEA (Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act) was signed into law by President George Bush on Friday Ocotber 13th, 2006, entering the global markets has been a common direction for many poker affiliates, and rightfully so, it makes sense.
With much of the market share falling off in the U.S., as well as a large majority of online poker and online casinos cutting off U.S. players, this was a logical approach for any poker affiliate to take. And actually, it was and still is a very smart approach. There are several emerging markets within online gambling that are without question going to be extremely profitable in the months and years to come. Eastern Europe and Germany are just two examples. Many of the Nordic regions and even Russia are also experiencing the Boom that the U.S. experienced back around 2004-2005 with respect to online poker. I like to call that the (WSOP Moneymaker days).
So yes, the poker affiliates that can gain exposure into these countries will definitely be able to grab a piece of the pie. But when I see all the “experts” and various people at conferences speaking about going global by simply translating your website, I really question their true expertise and have to laugh. I do feel qualified to speak about this as well. Throughout 2006-2007 I was member of the board of directors for PokerNews Ltd. I have seen firsthand some of the challenges of going global and capturing market share in 20+ countries and languages, especially in the online gaming market.
It sounds simple to just go to a freelance site and pay to have your site translated, or even worse run your content through Google translator or Babelfish …..think again though, this is actually a bad business decision in my opinion. If you have already done this, do yourself a favor and have a poker player fluent in that language give it a quick read through for a second opinion.
If you’re going to attempt to enter foreign markets via translation on your website, do it right and partner with people in those countries who understand the local market and demographic. Below is a list of the 3 biggest challenges for poker and casino affiliates when entering foreign markets:
1. Translation – This is the most important and critical aspect of entering a new market. The fundamental problem with “English only” speaking affiliates is that they hire a translator, and then there is no way to know if the translation is good. And unfortunately with bad translation, you will actually build a bad reputation for your site in these markets. Keep in mind every language has so many various subtleties. What would you think if you went to a U.S. site and read something like this:
“The game of Texes Holdam is played by individuls from around the country area. Here at we offer bonus for you best at sites. We can do also rakeback at 35% for sites no U.S.”
Laugh out Loud if you have to, but this is how your site will look if you pay for cheap translation. This brings me to point number two.
2. Translator - There are two critical things you will need from a translator to do a good translation that will allow you to present a professional page in one of these emerging markets. For starters you will need a translator that speaks fluent in both languages. If they only speak fluent in one language, and mediocre in the other, your content will look like the sentence above. Second and equally important, you have to have a translator that understands poker! There are so many terms that are going to get garbage translations if you don’t have a translator that understands all the various poker terms we throw out there….and believe me, there are too many to count.
3. Understanding of the Culture and Market - Maybe not as important as the prior points, but nonetheless it is important. Entering an emerging market is no different than choosing a niche. How can you promote within a niche for example if you have no idea what the niche is even about? Foreign markets are the same way. But the beauty is, once you have a firm understanding of that foreign market, you can make a killing by catering to them. But keep in mind the cultures in some markets are much more difficult than others to learn. The Asian market is a prime example, because this is THE toughest market to crack into for U.S. and English speaking affiliates. For one the fraud is incredibly high, and two, the real gamblers are more apt to gamble at true Asian sites, and not a translated .com. Furthermore poker is not their game of choice right now. It’s games like Baccarat and other games that are somewhat obscure to English speaking affiliates.
Although there are several challenges for poker and casino affiliates when entering global markets, the ones mentioned above are probably the top 3. Although the other smaller challenges that shouldn’t be overlooked can include having to get banners made in various languages, or sending players to rooms that accept players from that country but have no translation of their own on the site. Most affiliate programs and even sites only have a couple languages.
Now I will share with you some “inside advice” on the easiest way to get past these obstacles and launch into a foreign market properly. Although I am not a huge fan of keeping everything on a .com, it has worked wonders for some of the various sites I have operated in foreign countries. You can use subdomains, but is always better if you can get a domain that ends in the countries domain extension. For example, if you want to launch a German site, you should by a .DE domain.
Next, instead of simply hiring a translator to translate all the important pages on your new .DE domain, why not partner with a poker player or webmaster from Germany that can be responsible for ALL the current and future content for that language? Even if you write all the content or outsource it, they can simply translate it.
Two things though……pay them well, and give them a simple CMS (Content Management System) to take care of all the content. This is very important as then you’re partner is not limited to X amount of dollars for X amount of pages translated. Instead it encourages them to make the kind of money they see other big webmasters making and they won’t want to leave you to do their own thing.
Don’t be greedy either and try to make extra 10% for a lesser value partner. You will make your money back 100 times over if you bring on the right partner and pay them well. Likewise be willing to provide them the resources they need to be successful.
When entering a foreign market, one key thing to remember is that these readers want news and articles on the poker scene in their area or country. You can only post so many Las Vegas tournament results before it will be obvious that your site is simply a translated U.S. site. This is why it is so important to partner with someone who understands the countries poker scene and also has the freedom to create their own content.
Of course you want to have site reviews and strategy articles in the native language, but including too much U.S. focused news content is going to be poor ROI. Once again, pay your writers and translators well (based on performance), and give them a simple way to add content so all they have to do is pump it out, and not worry about technical stuff.
There are some great opportunities that lie ahead for poker affiliates within new emerging markets. However if you want to enter into these markets and build your brand as a professional one that will attract repeat visitors, you must do it properly. Furthermore I think it is always important to be moderately successful in your native market before venturing into others. The purpose of this chapter was to point out a few of the important things that must be taken into consideration when thinking of jumping off the bridge into the foreign and emerging markets. It can be lucrative and extremely profitable for poker affiliates, but just make sure to cover all your bases.