The internet and online purchases no longer have any barriers. Today, it is very easy to purchase a product in China, to order a piece of software in the United States, or a book in the United Kingdom. What is true for consumers is also the case for brands and advertisers. Once a good understanding of the local market has been acquired, the logical step is then international expansion. Yet, to increase effectiveness as part of your development plan, and have an impact more quickly on the correct people, a good affiliate marketing programme is essential. However, if this decision is rational and logical, it is important to prepare it well. Making your affiliate marketing programme international is like going on holiday abroad: you must know the basics of the language, the culture, be aware of the health risks and places to avoid, to really enjoy your trip. And with our advice and good practices, no need for repatriation insurance!
1-Work on the relevance of your product
You know your product, you have all the right pitches and good publishers in your country, but are you certain that this works in the same way elsewhere? Do you know your competitors in the country you are targeting? A good knowledge of the habits and customs and local market trends is vital to ensure your product is relevant elsewhere in the world.
To do this, background work is required to establish a suitable action plan: identifying the strengths that are there, analysis of the competition, sociodemographic data research… The aim is to produce a business plan which will enable you to see things more clearly at the time you launch.
2-Find trusted representatives in the target country
If you cannot or do not want to do everything yourself, introduce yourself to agencies or companies which do this as their job. You will save time and dedicate your budget and your energy to collaborating and working in tandem, rather than dabbling by yourself. By choosing an affiliate marketing platform that has a global network with real experience internationally from the very beginning, it will be a lot easier to make the transition to new countries.
Now, you must take your time to choose your partner well. Compare offers, make onsite trips, meet people and do not rely on a website or a too salesy business pitch. To avoid bad surprises, choose a partner which has already developed campaigns in several countries with good global coverage, and which has networks of international and local companies that understand all the aspect of their markets. Experience and quality will always be paramount when it is about launching outside of your natural environment.
3-Anticipate monetary fluctuations
Exchange rates can be very different from one month to the next, and from country to another. Publishers expect to be paid in their local currency. If your product is sold in another currency, be sufficiently flexible, and find good partners to juggle between several currencies with you.
Also ensure that your financial and accounting organisation is a stakeholder in your expansion plan, just like key players in sales and logistics. If you take too long, or if your sending costs are prohibitive when shipping a product abroad, you risk disappointing people. Your whole organisation must be singing from the same hymn sheet.
4-Minimise the language barrier
Understanding English will be vital for you to become international, including for finding representatives or partner agencies. If this is not your strong point, surround yourself with a team with experience or knowledge of going international, to support you.
Most of the time, English will be enough, but you may need to converse in another language. Try to anticipate and be supported by people who converse in other languages for a living. A disagreement or a problem with understanding could have an impact at the time of signing your contract!
5-Adapt your approach
If your brand does not have the power or recognition of Google, Apple or McDonald’s, you must take the time to adapt your approach to your new market: sales pitches, seasonality, sales experience, expectations, product visuals, slogans, wording… all your preparatory work needs to be done before launching.
The promotional material that you supply must also be suitable. Banners, emails, the style and template of your design, graphic charter… adapting communication media is a very important step to ensure increased conversion rates. Nobody is expecting you onsite. It is down to you to draw out your path with suitable tools.
Finally, be clear with your economic model. It is important to adapt your remuneration models well, to attract new affiliates. What you practise in your domestic market is perhaps very different from the remuneration practices abroad. Researching, adapting, then proposing attractive models for all parties is a gauge of trust and quality, to begin your international diversification well.
Developing an international affiliate marketing programme can take time, as the reflection, research and work which goes with it must allow you to prepare the field well. This time lapse can however be considerably reduced, by relying on an experienced partner who understands these problems – it is what they do. If your clients put trust in you as an expert in your sector, it is down to you to put trust in an international affiliate marketing professional.
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