Making your brand international was once a rather expensive and complicated undertaking. It involved looking closely at foreign e-commerce markets and evaluating the potential profitability of a product in a market that was not fully understood. In addition, offices in new countries had to be physically opened and staffed locally to complete the work
Today, however, all this has changed. Consumers are more and more comfortable buying from foreign companies, with a simple click online. Research by Accenture and Ali predicted that by this year, 900 million consumers will shop online from another country. All of this is great for brands that want to grow, but it also means a noticeable increase in competition. So: is it worth it? The answer is yes, but with the right strategy.
Reaching foreign customers is now easier than ever and with a well-built affiliate campaign you can access an audience that until recently you would have thought was unreachable.
Why Grow an Affiliate Program Abroad?
Most companies want more and more growth, at ever faster rates. Foreign markets allow access to many new consumers, willing to spend on the products and services of that company.
Affiliate networks like Awin can connect advertisers with publishers around the world who already know their audience’s buying behaviors and can therefore bring growth potential in certain countries. On the other hand, if by looking at your data you have already identified an area of particular interest, a network like ours can help you understand which advertisers are actually successful in these regions and can facilitate a mutually fruitful partnership.
International buyers are often quite price sensitive, looking for the best deals even outside their home region. This translates into a great opportunity for those with competitive prices or for publishers offering discount codes and vouchers.
Pitney Bowes conducted a study that found that not only do foreign buyers have an average order value greater than 17%, but that the return rate is much lower, possibly due to the difficulty of making international returns. Whatever the reason, this is useful data for both advertisers and publishers who can use it to tailor new campaigns in international markets.
How to grow your global affiliate business
1. Analyze what you already have
Taking a deeper look at where visitors come from online can help establish a growth plan. When you look at the data you will be able to find potential customers who are from a certain country, but who do not complete a purchase because you have not put processes in place to help them complete their order. This type of evaluation for each country can help you immediately increase your sales, with a few simple steps.
2. Do a research on your customers
If you have a particular country in mind, research that particular audience first. It sounds obvious but it’s something marketers often forget: While there has been advancement in the digital landscape and the world is rapidly developing into a global audience of shoppers, there are still so many distinct habits that can create barriers to buying for foreign consumers. Not only do they have localized buying behaviors, but cultural behaviors can influence the buying path. For example, if you are hoping to expand to China it is important to consider the beliefs about luck: fish, the color red and the number eight are considered incredibly lucky, but the number four,
Making a precise and well-targeted assessment of your target is the basis of the “Perfect International Affiliate Program”. Do this separately for each country or region, just to avoid making a rough analysis.
3. Look for well-defined trends, useful for the development of your business
Research which products and services sell well in a country or region. Keeping an eye on industry trends will help you develop your business, giving you a first boost to growth. Your business may already be offering just what sells so well, or you may be starting to develop a new product line to meet those needs.
4. Create bespoke content
If publishers bring their audience to your site, you will have content that speaks exactly the local language, all you have to do is remove the last few barriers to buying. Google translate often does this automatically but there are other tricks you can keep in mind.
For example, always converting the cost of products into the local currency can help the buyer understand the final purchase price (or if you choose to keep the dollar sign be clear what that means). Spelling and the way of using phrases varies from country to country, so use words that a foreign customer is more used to: it helps build trust and build the vision of a truly global brand. There are also events, which vary from country to country, to which public attention is drawn.
Local events, whether national holidays or ‘shopping events’ are now easier to take advantage of, given the hyper-connected world we live in. Some of them are well known as the Black Friday sales, which traditionally started the day after Thanksgiving in America or ‘Singles Day’, the Chinese holiday dedicated to singles shopping.
It is incredibly difficult to have a website that meets all the needs of customers, all over the world, but by understanding where most shoppers come from, you can make the changes that best suit their buying behavior.
Talk to your web developer about the possibility of adding a code to the site that displays different content depending on the visitor’s IP address: it could be a real advantage in establishing and growing your brand globally.
5. Delegation to trusted partners
Having a dedicated platform that can manage all aspects of your affiliate campaigns, like Awin, reduces stress and confusion. Making it alone in foreign markets can be complex, and there are so many variables at play. But by using publishers operating in these countries, translation and communication problems are often solved more easily than expected.
6. Keep foreign logistics and regulations in mind
If you want to produce and sell a physical product you must also consider the importance of logistics. Ask yourself if it is feasible to deliver your product to a certain region and how the system will work across international borders.
There are regulations and so many variable costs that could prevent you from making these purchases, but if a large enough audience is looking for your product, delving into all these logistics and regulations could prove incredibly profitable for your business.
Create an order, shipping and return policy for each area.
You will also need to comply with international privacy laws, especially those on data. Therefore, your digital presence must also consider this. There is a wealth of information available online regarding the GDPR, CCPA and other international data laws that are essential to understand if you want your digital efforts not to go in vain or, worse, stopped and penalized.
7. Create face-to-face relationships as well
This can be tricky indeed when dealing with foreign publishers, but it’s still a good rule of thumb to keep in mind. If, when possible, you decide to organize a trip, you might consider organizing some meetings and reunions with your foreign partners. It will strengthen their brand loyalty and consequently also that of their audience.
You can also think about organizing an event, to bring together many partners all at once: it doesn’t have to be a big event, you can also invite your publishers for a coffee or a lunch, enhancing the work they do for you.
Given the period we are living in, however, even a webinar or a virtual conference can be for you: it is a first step to get to know each other better and understand how to work towards a common goal.
How to manage a global affiliate program
8. Find your focus
Once you have assessed the growth potential in a certain area, narrow it down and focus on one, at most two new markets. Expanding into too many countries too quickly will only be counterproductive in the long run. Find your focus and concentrate your energy and resources there.
9. The best international affiliate networks
The easiest way to do this is with a professional international affiliate network, such as Awin. There are many benefits to working with a network that already works in foreign markets and has a lot of data available. One of the biggest benefits is having access to a large selection of local currencies. This benefits you as the advertiser, but also the publishers. We can pay your affiliates in their local currency, as well as convert and track sales and click-throughs into local currency. This results in less complexity for both parties. As already mentioned, we help you to comply with all the regulations in force in a country: being caught out could be fatal for your business and often pretending not to know is not the solution.
10. Talk to your publishers
Ask for feedback. What do they think your consumers need? It can be specific content, seasonal promotions, visual branding to engage audiences, and so much more. Do not neglect this valuable source of information and always keep communication open.