As more and more brands decide to “go global,” the search is on for powerful and compelling ways to reach and persuade new consumers. Especially as we enter the peak shopping period, marketers are looking at growth more extensively than ever before.
However, extending a brand internationally tends to be expensive and resource-intensive; brand teams need to define the most effective and efficient tools for growing awareness, driving trial, and stimulating customer loyalty. Differences in culture, media habits, distribution systems and a host of other dimensions make it difficult to identify a set of tools or tactics that will work in every market. In fact, most sales and marketing leaders agree that there is no cookie-cutter go-to-market program that will work in all countries.
If you’d like to grow your business through international expansion, this post is for you! We’ll show you how to do partnership right, right from the start! There are a number of best practices that help drive faster revenues and better overall results for partnership – whatever the region(s) in which you compete.
If you are looking for ways to drive faster and stronger brand sales as part of an international expansion, here are seven best practices that should inform your efforts.
Identify Affiliate Marketing Experts for the Key Regions in Your Expansion Plan
Having access to someone who fully understands the dynamics of partnerships in your target region(s) helps you avoid common pitfalls that can hamper your initial efforts. These regional experts may also have pre-existing relationships with partners that enable you to get efforts in place more quickly.
Where to Find Global Affiliate Experts
In-market expertise is very valuable in partnerships. Your company can acquire such talent by creating an internal team or employing an agency/consultancy that is very well-versed in both the partnership space and its unique regional dynamics.
Some brands entrust their affiliate programs to “full-service” agencies that have cultivated these capabilities. Other brands prefer to have a dedicated affiliate manager in-house or outsource to purpose-built partnership agencies with both local teams in key markets and global strategy leads.
Never underestimate the power of preexisting relationships in-region. Partnerships is an industry that lives on the strength of relationships between industry participants. People work with folks that they trust.
Further, an affiliate program recommendation from a well-regarded source will carry a lot of weight with the partners. That sense of trust can get you a faster start to driving strong revenue for your brand.
Analyze the Affiliate Landscape in the Key Regions for Your Expansion
While having an expert on your team can help reduce the need for this step, I believe it’s important for all decision makers to understand how partnership differs in the target regions(s).
The dynamics of partnership are very different in different parts of the world. In some regions like the US and UK, where partnership and affiliate have been around for the better part of two decades, there are thousands of partners with both broad-based audiences and/or passionate niche followings in specialty categories.
In other parts of the world, a handful of partners dominate the space. Further, partners may have very specific preferences with regard to the currencies in which they are paid, frequency of payment, and so forth. By creating a strong knowledge foundation, you can better align your affiliate program to “what works” and “what will work” to drive maximum revenue and conversions.
Your measurement technology and/or partnerships management team is an ideal source for insights about major new markets. If you don’t have access to experts on the countries, get it fast.
Conduct a Comprehensive Competitive Analysis of Affiliate Advertising Efforts Fielded by Your Competitors
By analyzing the scale, offers, and other tactics used by your competitors, you go a long way toward identifying the important benchmarks that can be critical to defining the optimal mix of offers for your affiliate program. This is especially important during the holiday season as messaging is so specific.
Context Matters In Affiliate Advertising
It is important to remember that great partners are spoiled for choice as to the sorts of programs they can promote. By creating affiliate programs that represent outstanding “win-win” results, you go a long way towards ensuring acceptance and support of your initiatives.
If your competitors serve up richer revenue share programs than you do, you run the risk of losing partner support. After all, each of your partners is a business – they focus on profit maximization just like you do. That does not necessarily mean that your offer needs to be as good or better than a competitor’s. If your brand is much stronger than competing brands, for example, you might be able to get away with a more modest offer because sell through could be stronger. But, generally speaking, fielding parity or slightly richer offers are a powerful way to increase support from partners.
Define a Multifaceted Partner Acquisition Strategy Outlining the Types of Affiliates You Will Seek
You’ve done your homework. Now it’s time to set the partner strategy for your brand. Recent affiliate marketing research shows that brands are driving strong revenue from affiliate, influencer, traditional media partner, and strategic brand-to-brand partnership types. Consider all of these classes of partnership as you formulate your partnership business plan and work out which partner types work best for your new regions.
Leveraging Many Types of Affiliate Partners
Brands are realizing big revenue gains through partnerships of all kinds. In recent years, there has been a fundamental evolution in partnerships and how brands can work with partners.
Partnership now encompasses dynamic new sectors including channel, loyalty, influencers, referral, and brand to-brand alliances in addition to affiliate.
Affiliate advertising is a great place to start in partnership marketing. But once you have your affiliate programs humming, it makes sense to consider other forms of partnership. If your results are typical to those of other leading global brands, you can actually double your revenue from these newer forms of collaboration.
Choose an Affiliate Marketing Management Solution That Can Serve Your Needs in All Regions
Having a single provider for all regions simplifies the internal resources you will need to devote to driving maximum success in affiliate advertising.
Finding the Right Affiliate Partners
When companies work with multiple platforms, they add complexity to their reporting and management challenges. But getting a single platform that can meet your needs everywhere isn’t child’s play. Many affiliate networks cover only certain geographies.
Further, some cannot make payments in the regions where your partners may be based, or in the currencies that they prefer. By contrast, the software solutions tend to be better at truly international coverage. But be careful that the provider you choose can make payments in EVERY region where you may have partners. Most cannot.
Think about both the regions you will enter immediately, and those where you expect to participate in the years that follow. It’s better to get this decision right at the outset than to have to switch providers later as your needs grow.
Pay close attention to whether your provider can make payments in those parts of the world that can drive strong volume but have complex financial rules. Many providers cannot easily make payments in regions like China, India and Brazil, where financial rules are strict.
Analyze Performance Data and Monitor Changes to Competitor Affiliate Programs
Success in partnerships is about continuous and proactive optimization. This is not an industry where a brand is well served by a set-it-and-forget-it approach. This is true throughout the year, but especially during the holiday season when promotions and offers are at their peak. It’s very important to understand what others are performing best and get your mix right.
In years past, many companies established affiliate marketing programs, and then pretty much left them alone. But today, affiliate marketing is such an important revenue source that companies are establishing strong, dedicated teams to proactively manage programs. To succeed in this environment, you need knowledgeable and nimble program leaders.
We often think about continuous improvement in the context of analysis and program management best practices:
Constantly reassess the compensation model to ensure your offers stay competitive.
Work hard to stay top of mind so that partners continue to feature your offers prominently over the course of the year and especially during the holiday season.
Put your data to work by collecting and leveraging more information than just a conversion tag fire. Leverage search and order parameters to customize messages using dynamic templates. And dig deeper into your program information to identify new insights that can help drive further improvements.
Think in real-time. Insist on getting real-time program and partner performance data so you can optimize more quickly.
Keep your partners close and your best partners closer. This is a business of relationships and the more that you can develop direct relationships with your partners, the more effective your programs can be.
Integrate Affiliate Marketing Performance Data Into Your Overall International Sales and Attribution
More and more companies are focused on including all marketing touchpoints — including those powered by partners — in their analytics and attribution modeling. To ensure partnership takes its rightful place in that holistic view, here are three key things you must do.
Here Are Three Things to Consider Doing
Recognize attribution is a cross-channel challenge, not a single-channel challenge. To gain the necessary understanding, you need to include a comprehensive set of data on consumer events for the partner marketing channel as well as all other channels, to create a comprehensive view. Deliver the right partner marketing data inputs.
For most customer journeys, there are a number of measurable events between the first partner click and the final purchase or conversion. Each step in the process must be separately measured and the data compiled at a granular user level. Ensure timely data ingestion and processing. The timeliness of the data that you ingest is important — real-time data has far more value for optimizing results than data that is days or weeks old. Further, real-time information is essential for powering the most sophisticated attribution models.
APIs make the challenge of delivering data to a cross-channel attribution and measurement system far simpler and more straightforward.
Going international with your affiliate advertising has its challenges, but you can make the process much simpler and faster by following a methodical and well-reasoned plan. The seven steps outlined here can provide a starting framework on which you can build a program that meets your specific brand and category needs. I hope you found this document valuable. I welcome comments and ideas – please direct them to contact us and our team will review them as we produce new content and update existing eGuides. If you would like to know more about Partnerize and the Partnerize Partner Automation Platform, visit our website or get in touch today!
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