I recently did an interview with Chris Manuel from FocalClick. They represent SunPoker.com and OmniCasino.com. For those of you that are currently promoting through FocalClick, you know that they have made a ton of changes over the last year and a half, specifically with SunPoker.com.Chris gives some great insight into what's been happening with the brands lately. Obviously FocalClick is one of the oldest affiliate companies in the industry, if you haven't given them a look lately, I highly encourage you too. It's not the FocalClick you once knew. The new marketing section now provides you with almost any tool imaginable. Give the interview a read through. If you have any questions or comments please feel free to add them.
1. Chris, tell us a bit about yourself and how you got involved in affiliate marketing and affiliate management.
After school I was working part time and playing poker part time. I absolutely loved poker but I couldn’t handle the swings, and knew I couldn’t raise a family playing poker professionally. I met a friend of a friend who worked in the online poker industry, as an affiliate. I eventually started working part time with him, learning his business and the industry as a whole. Within a relatively short period I knew this industry was it for me. I was working 12+ hours, 7 days a week. I was also spending time reading forums and getting a really good feel for the industry.
After three or four months I was introduced to a couple different affiliate Managers, and starting speaking to them quite regularly. I thought they had a dream job, focusing on not only their own business, but also get to work with hundreds of affiliates and help them grow their own respected businesses, in my opinion they had the best of both worlds.
I worked out a deal with my current boss at the time, I would finish up the job I was hired to do, after that I would be looking to move to the operator side of the business.
And here I am today.
2. FocalClick has made some significant changes over the past year and a half, can you tell us about these in more detail.
I don’t even know where to start. I should give you a little bit of back history which will better explain where we are today. Back at the start of 2010 the company brought in a new CEO and Vice President; they made it their number one focus to get all brands the much needed attention they have been starving for.
As with many executive level changes, they brought in their own team (which I was hired to be apart of) and we started laying the ground work for the future. First would be Omni Casino second would be SunPoker, however during this time, FocalClick and all of their partners would receive number one priority if needed.
Both OmniCasino.com and SunPoker.com have had a complete makeover from both a front end perspective but also backend. New Club O Rewards at Omni and new CRM systems company wide. This has helped shape FocalClick and brought about the change that was needed for FocalClick to become a top affiliate programme as it once was.
The major changes at FocalClick can be found in our marketing tools section. We’ve added a whole new layout, updated all new banners for both brands, added base reviews, basically anything that affiliates need, we have. We’ve also put a massive focus on ensuring that every click matters. We have been adding geo targeted banner sets, localized landing pages, every tool necessary to make sure that our affiliates are happy and will remain happy.
3. If you had to name the top 3 things that differentiate Focal Click from the rest of the competition, what would you say they are?
I always cringe when I read other AM’s answer this questions, mainly because it’s always the same answer. Don’t get me wrong, I agree with what they are saying, trust and honesty are an extremely important part of any business.
* I would say FocalClick has an amazing team who understand what affiliates want (we’ve all been there), we stand behind them in their needs, and focus on getting them the tools they need to do their jobs properly. In short…we listen to our partners, rather than telling our partners.
* We don’t B.S, “Beat around the bush”, or waste our partners time. If we can help you, we’ll help you. If we can’t, rather than trying to sell you on something that we both know isn’t going to happen, we’ll be the first to admit it. With that said, we are a hassle free programme who pride ourselves on always staying professional and giving the best possible support at all times.
* We bring 25+ years of combined service to the table, our brands are not going anywhere. There is a reason we’ve been around for this long, and it’s not because we treat our affiliates poorly.
4. What are currently the top converting markets for the FocalClick portfolio of products?
This depends on which brand:
SunPoker does really well in Canada, United Kingdom, Germany and we’ve been gaining a lot of traction in other European countries.
OmniCasino is making incredible strides in United Kingdom, Canada, Australia just to name a few.
Both properties will be expanding in other key markets starting Q1 of 2012.
5. As you know timely affiliate payments are extremely important to affiliates these days, what is the average payment date each month for Focal Click?
This is massive change we’ve made at FocalClick in the past year. When I took over the programme affiliates were always a month behind in their payments. For example, October earnings weren’t approved until the last day of November and weren’t paid until sometime in December. This was a cycle that was in place for a long time before the new executive management team arrived. Today, this has drastically changed. All affiliate earnings are approved between the 3rd and the 5th of the month. Once the affiliate requests a cashout it takes anywhere from hours to 48 hours to 10 days (depending on the method).
6. With 2011 coming to a close, what are some of the goals or upcoming endeavors that Focal Click or any of the brands you promote be embarking on in the New Year?
Great Question. We have so many changes coming in 2012 for all brands
FocalClick- Will be continuing to explore new opportunity’s with our affiliates, focusing on “outside the box” marketing, and trying things that we might not of tried in the past. We will continue to give the same level of service to our partners and hope to reactive as many affiliates as possible.
SunPoker- will be launching new poker software Q1 of 2012, we will also be making such an amazing, drastic change to our VIP system (I can’t wait until it’s live) it’s going to be simple to understand, and give back even more to our players. We will also be putting a HUGE emphasis on exclusive promotions that cater to every player type. This will extract value from our players and help our affiliate earn more while promoting the brand.
Omni Casino- will continue to expand in new markets, while rolling out ever more new and innovated slot promotions. Omni Slot Tournaments are massively attended month over month which adds to partner’s bottom line. With more new Universal, MGM and Marvel games slated this year along with Omni’s most creative and ever changing promotions, the brand is expected to really make a new splash in 2012. This past year was amazing, but 2012 looks like a blockbuster.
7. So when you are not managing affiliates, what does Chris Manuel do for fun?
I play Hockey 3 nights a week, I read a ton, but most importantly I love spending time with my family. There is no greater joy than watching your children grow and being proud of everything they do.