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    vinism's Avatar
    vinism is offline Editor Emeritus
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    Default Affiliate Manager Interview Series: Steffi Kratz - ReferBack

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    Age: 32
    Hometown: Cape Town, South Africa
    Favorite food: Avocado

    Due to Microgaming's decision to pull out of the U.S., ReferBack recently stopped accepting U.S. players, although you still are accepting U.S.-based affiliates. How will ReferBack change to better market to areas outside the U.S. And what tools is ReferBack providing to help their affiliates make the transition?

    Our local affiliates are often the mediators between the different markets and us as the global operators and they usually know what works best and what doesn’t to attract their target audiences. Based on the feedback we receive and our own research, we provide localized marketing collateral (landing pages, banners, reviews in the local languages), and gear special promotions around local events (e.g., Oktoberfest in Germany, Bastille Day in France, etc.). When designing winning advertisements we do consider cultural differences with regards to symbols, heroes, rituals, buzzwords, etc.

    From ReferBack’s side we provide our affiliates with the right acquisition reports split into geographical areas for monitoring and planning purposes. They can make use of our ad-trackers to monitor performance of differently targeted marketing campaigns, and we offer full support by our dedicated and international marketing team.
    In addition to this, we are in the process of rolling out even more multilingual landing pages for all our casinos and the Cool Hand Online Poker Room. Note that our biggest casino brand, JackpotCity, is already available in 14 different languages! Affiliates who are keen to provide targeted and localized content to their audience should simply get in touch with us to explore the global opportunities with ReferBack – there are plenty!

    Earlier this year, ReferBack decided to delve into the poker market with Cool Hand Poker. Why did ReferBack decide to enter the poker market? What distinguishes Cool Hand Poker from other sites? And what makes ReferBack's poker affiliate program unique?

    Poker globally continues to grow at double-digit percentages every quarter, and the volume of newbie players is growing exponentially. Some of the top poker rooms are raking in more than $1.3 million per day and new poker rooms are launching all the time.

    However, there’s still no online poker environment catering to the recreational player and providing a “shark repellent,” safe environment to play. This is where we want to fill the gap and create a lifestyle brand that average poker players can build an affinity towards.

    Poker will be run independently to the casinos, with dedicated poker resources, skills, metrics, and thinking. We operate without the high-stake tables and rather offer Cool Hand Poker exclusive low buy-in tables in order to increase the length of play time (and hence the “rake creation time” for our affiliates). Our promotions are geared towards depositing players, and by creating a lifestyle brand we will drive loyalty, all of which will translate back into delivering greater player value and higher earnings for our affiliates.

    You have a marketing background that includes both on- and off-line marketing. What kind of off-line marketing did you do? What lessons from off-line marketing translate well into online marketing?

    I worked as a marketer in various industries ranging from fast moving consumer goods (coffee, ketchup, beer, and bubble bath) to industrial heating systems and e-mail marketing solutions in Germany, South Africa, and the U.K.

    Right from the start, I was keen to explore as many different communication channels as I could possibly find to deliver my messages – from classic PR and direct mailings, print advertising, exhibitions and seminars, catalogs, POS-marketing, … over to email and Web sites.

    Addressing the right people in the right manner at the right time and place is the key – whether on- or off-line.

    A lesson I learned and apply now to both on- and off-line marketing is: Gut-feel and a creative mind are great to stimulate new ideas, and you need to allow yourself to think big, but: test small. Knowledge is power, so constantly learn about new ways to grow your business and don’t be afraid of change.

    The metrics that only online marketing can provide you with can give you deep insights into customer behavior and will answer the questions on what works and what does not.

    So a very important lesson I’ve learned, especially in online marketing, is: If you can’t measure it, don’t do it.

    What's the most difficult part of your job?

    Reading poker-faces and communicating with people who sometimes wish to remain anonymous can be very challenging but also makes this a very interesting job indeed.

    What’s the most exciting part of your job?

    I thoroughly enjoy working with people from all over the world with very different backgrounds and needs, just like they would be sitting next to me. In addition to this, the ever-changing online gambling industry itself keeps me on my toes and results in my seldom having a dull day.

    Trust is often cited as one of the critical components of successful relationships between affiliates and affiliate programs. How do you go about establishing trust with your affiliates? And what do you expect out of your affiliates in return?

    I think that a mutual understanding of needs and requirements is non-negotiable when working together with affiliates. I believe in openness and honesty and don’t think it helps to pretend to know what you don’t. Having said that, there’s no excuse for not going out of your way and not finding the correct answers either. I think that speedy and to-the-point responses are key in a high-pressure environment where a quick turnaround of ideas is crucial to success. This goes both ways.

    Besides trust, what are the keys to building successful relationships between affiliates and affiliate programs?

    Relationships to me start with being accessible and listening to new ideas with an open mind. A relationship starts when the interest is reciprocated. Working together on finding solutions that work for both parties ensures that these relationships can prevail over a long period of time. To this end, communication is a key element and we do this via phone, MSN, Skype, email, forums, trade publications, and of course face to face. Different methods work for different people, and relationships take time to build. ReferBack has been in this space since 1999 and has a fantastic reputation, which obviously helps!

    What are your three keys to success for an affiliate?

    Generally speaking, I’d say: traffic, targeted content, and clear calls to action.
    However, different people measure success in different ways. Within our business, success can come from improvement, sales, or referral of VIPs – depending upon the affiliate. Affiliates with Web site representations need to be able to drive traffic to their sites, monetize it, and then repeat this on an ongoing basis! Mailing affiliates need to constantly work on their databases and keep them “clean” and up to date. It is especially important to respect your client’s request… I think the times of heavy push marketing are over and we rather need to concentrate on pulling our customers gently towards us. Don’t sit still, repeat doing what works best for you, and try out new ideas to keep things interesting. We’ll happily take the traffic from our affiliates, convert it into cash, and thereby ensure that it’s truly a win-win-situation.

    In the forums, you mentioned you were "German by right of succession, South African by choice." What does that mean?

    What it means is that in Germany you acquire your citizenship if a parent is a German citizen, irrespective of place of birth. Well, I was born in Germany to my German parents – which makes me (you guessed it) German. However, my own self-definition has moved beyond nationality: when I met my boyfriend in Cape Town a few years back and started finding new ‘cousins’ on this side of the world, this motivated me to emigrate to be together with them. My new social identity is now based on an “extended family perception” and I am proud to call myself a ”truly South African Alien” whilst still remaining German at heart.

    South Africa is an emerging consumer market with a vast diversity of people. It’s a great place to be for anyone who embraces change as I do. And last but not least: Cape Town must be one of the most beautiful places in the world – so the choice to move here was easy.

    If someone is visiting you in South Africa (Cape Town), what's the one place you would take them?

    I’d take anyone up to Signal Hill, where you have a beautiful view of the Mother City, Lion’s Head, Table Mountain, and the sea. There might even be a few baboons hunting for the tourists’ sandwiches, which just adds to the ”African” experience. (No, there are no giraffes and lions walking up and down the streets here.) I have yet to see someone who isn’t instantaneously taken by the beauty of this city.

    You've mentioned that you like painting pictures. What do you like to paint? Could we see a sample?

    You might not call my “art” very sophisticated and I myself rather call it “spacefiller productions” but it’s out there primarily because I enjoy the process of using a brush and mixing colors much more than the actual results. Since I discovered photography as another hobby, I stay away from trying to copy anything in a naturalistic way. I enjoy bold colors and structures – lately mixed up with a bit of 70s afro pop art – and I usually try to get my friends involved in “filling out the patches”. This way, I’m the proud owner of a whole collection of diverse art pieces which grows year after year, and one fine day I might open my own “spacefiller productions gallery.”

    What songs are currently on your iPod?

    I have loads (and loads and loads) of songs on my iPod. It mainly is electronic music ranging from ambient to dark progressive. However, in my “eclectic normal stuff” collection you would find artists such as Prodigy, Gorillaz, Eek-A-Mouse, Cypress Hill, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Kruder & Dorfmeister, Nine Inch Nails, Massive Attack.

    What's the last book you read? What did you like about it?

    The last book I read was “Mieses Karma” (Lousy Karma) by David Safir, who apparently lives and works in Bremen – the same city that I’m from (but that’s coincidence). I read the book on a flight back to SA and I liked it because it made me laugh a lot and it lasted exactly one flight from first to last page.

    What’s your favorite movie and why?

    My favorite movie ever must be ”Drei Nüsse für Aschenbrödel” (Three Nuts for Cinderella) – or at least it’s the movie that I have watched most times in my life. It’s a beautiful Czechoslovakian-DDR movie production based on a quite emancipated version of the Cinderella story by the Brothers Grimm. As a more current movie, I’d say “Dr. Seuss’ Horton Hears a Who” – I love this sort of mind-boggling premise and the moral of “a person is a person no matter how small.”

    What was your favorite subject in school?

    I think it was rhetoric (presentation techniques) because I could freely argue with anyone about any point – and I was pretty good at it.

    How did you get started in the online gambling business?

    I accepted the position in mid-2008. Since then, my affiliates and experienced colleagues alike have taught me a lot of things and I am very appreciative that they share their wealth of knowledge with me. I had a great start and consider myself very fortunate to be surrounded by professionals who know their stuff. I even get personal training in playing poker, and next time I play against my 83-year-old granny – she’d better watch her petty cash!

    What’s the first concert you attended in person?

    The first concert I’ve ever been to was “The Busters” – a German SKA band that played at the Modernes in Bremen – and I was 15 and really wanted a Vespa scooter

    What's your favorite board game?

    The Settlers of Catan – but I prefer the German version (Die Siedler von Catan) because it looks nicer and I spent hours translating all cards for my English-speaking friends and now refuse to buy the English version.

    If you had to live your life over again, what one thing would you change?

    Being born into old money would have maybe made some things easier – or at least quicker to achieve. But actually, I think that earning your success makes you more appreciative of your personal achievements... So: I’m happy as it is.

    What are three things that no one knows about you?

    I’m funny, actually. I own a big mansion, two townhouses, and continuously develop more of my LEGO properties, and lastly: I have three sisters, which equals a black belt in psychological warfare.

  2. #2
    Benjamin Whidden is offline Public Member
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    I really enjoy these interviews

    Ben
    AbsoluteSlots.com | Online Slot Machines and Casino <!-- / message -->
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  3. #3
    ovidiubusi's Avatar
    ovidiubusi is offline Private Member
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    Well , Stefi is my account manager on ReferBack and i want to tell to all . its a great woman and a great manager

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