Going global with your brand used to be an expensive exercise. Watching overseas e-commerce markets closely and assessing your product’s viability in a market you didn’t completely understand was challenging to say the least. Then there was the task of physically setting up offices in new countries and hiring local staff to get the job done.
Today, however, the landscape has changed. Consumers are becoming increasingly more comfortable with purchasing from overseas companies at the click of a button. Accenture and Ali research predicted that by this year, 900 million consumers would be making their purchases online from another country. This is great for brands who want to grow, but it also means an increase in competition. So is it worth it? The answer is yes, if you’ve calculated it into your strategy.
Reaching overseas customers is now easier than ever before and with a well-constructed affiliate marketing campaign, you can access audiences you may have never thought possible.
Why grow your affiliate marketing program overseas?
Most businesses wish to see further growth. The overseas market opens up the possibility of so many new consumers who are willing to spend with a company.
Affiliate networks such as Awin’s can connect advertisers with active and successful publishers worldwide who already know the buying behaviors of their audience and can demonstrate potential growth in certain countries. On the flip side, if by looking through your data you have already assessed the potential market size in a particular area, a network like ours can show you which advertisers are successful in these regions and can facilitate mutually beneficial partnerships.
It’s also been noted that international shoppers could be considered price-sensitive, searching for the best deal outside of their home region. This creates a great opportunity for competitive pricing or for the affiliates who run their campaigns on voucher sites.
In 2017, Pitney Bowes conducted a study which highlighted that not only did overseas purchasers have a 17% higher average order value (AOV), but they also had a far lower returns rate. This is presumably due to the difficulty of making an international return. Whatever the reason, this is valuable data for both advertisers and their publishers who can use this to tailor their campaigns for international markets.
How to grow your global affiliate activity
1. Assess what you already have
Taking a deeper look into where your online visitors are already coming from can assist in forming your overseas growth plans. When you look into your digital data you may find potential customers coming from a certain country, but not completing a purchase as you haven’t put the processes in place to help them follow through with their order. This kind of assessment and noticing the country-specific drop-offs can show you where you have huge potential for sales with a few simple changes.
2. Do your customer research
If you have a particular country in mind for growth, do prior research on your audience there. It sounds obvious, but this is something marketers often forget. Though there has been progression in the digital landscape and the world is quickly developing towards a globalized buying audience, there are still so many localized concepts that can create barriers to purchasing for overseas consumers. Not only do they have localized shopping behaviors, but cultural behaviors can also affect buying patterns.
For example, if you’re hoping to expand into China it’s important to consider the vitally important cultural values around luck: fish, the color red and the number eight are all considered incredibly lucky – but the number four, giving someone a book as a gift and even putting a black border around a photo are all thought to be bad luck omens.
Doing a thorough and refreshed target customer assessment is important when looking to go global with your affiliate activity. You’ll need to do this separately for each specific country or region, as everyone can’t be lumped into one area.
3. Localized trends and business development
Research what products and services are doing well in particular countries or regions. Keeping an eye on current trends in your own industry and in the wider market can help with your overall business development and your plans for future growth. Your business may have something that can already meet the needs of these regions, or you could consider developing something that would in the future.
4. Create locally focused content
If your publishers are pushing their audience to your website, having content that quite literally speaks their language when they get there can remove some of the final barriers to purchase. Google’s language translator often does this automatically, but there are other provisions you can make online that also affect this.
For example, having the cost of products convert to local currencies (or be explicitly clear what the dollar sign stands for) can help the buyer comprehend their final purchase cost. The spellings or phrasing used vary from country to country too, so using words that an overseas customer is more familiar with helps build trust and the vision of a truly global brand. There are also events that occur that vary from country to country that you could target new audiences with.
Localized events, whether these are national holidays or “shopping events,” are far easier to take advantage of in the current buying landscape. Some of these are well known now, such as the Black Friday sales, which traditionally began as the day after Thanksgiving in America, or “Singles Day,” the new Chinese bachelor shopping holiday.
It is incredibly challenging to have a website meet all customers’ needs globally, but understanding where a majority of buyers are coming from, you can make alterations to suit their buying behavior.
Speaking to your web developer about adding code to your website that shows different content depending on the IP address of the visitor could be a real advantage to establishing and growing your brand globally.
5. Minimize moving parts
Having one dedicated platform that can handle all aspects of your affiliate network, such as Awin, minimizes stress and confusion. Breaking into overseas markets alone can be complex, with many local considerations in place. But by using established publishers in these regions, the localization issues have often already been catered for.
6. Consider overseas logistics and compliance
Reaching out to an overseas market is all well and good, but if you’re producing a physical product in particular, you need to consider overseas logistics. Ask yourself if it’s feasible for you to deliver your product to a certain region and how that system will work over international borders.
There are varying legalities and costs that may not make these purchases possible, but if a large enough audience is looking for your product, delving into these logistics and legalities could end up being incredibly profitable for your business. Create a clear ordering, shipping and returns policy for each new area.
Compliance also applies to international privacy laws, particularly around data. Therefore, your digital presence should consider this too. There is a wealth of knowledge available online that discusses the GDPR, CCPA and other international data laws that are essential to understand if you wish to not have your digital efforts impacted or be shut down online.
7. Create face to face partnerships
This can be challenging when dealing with overseas publishers. However, it’s certainly something to keep in mind. If you are considering international travel and happen to be in countries your publishers reside in, a face to face meet up could exponentially strengthen their brand loyalty and their existing audience by association.
If you happen to have several publishers in a country you’ll be visiting, consider organizing an event to get everyone in the same room. This doesn’t have to be large or overcomplicated, even just inviting your affiliates for a coffee can show you value their work with you.
Obviously this isn’t always possible, but it’s something to keep in mind. Although not as personal as face-to-face meetings, hosting a video meeting with these publishers to get to know them and their brand better can also show the value of the partnership, and help you both work toward a common goal.
How to manage a global affiliate program
8. Find your focus
Once you have assessed your data and your potential for growth in certain areas, create a sense of focus. Attempting to spread yourself too far and too wide too quickly could mean spreading yourself thin and failing to harness the potential of these new markets. Select one or two new countries where you see the most possibility for growth, and focus your energy there.
9. The best international affiliate networks
The easiest way to do this is with a professional international affiliate network like Awin. There are many benefits to a network which understands all sorts of overseas data, as opposed to just localized markets. One major advantage is having access to a wide range of local currencies. This benefits you as the advertiser, and your publishers too. We can pay your affiliates in their local currency, as well as convert and track sales and click-throughs in local currency. It removes a level of complication for both parties, who are attempting to grasp their own data.
As previously mentioned, enabling network compliance for traffic and transactions is vital. Getting caught out for not meeting requirements in this space can be a costly exercise and unfortunately, merely pleading ignorance to the rules and regulations won’t get you out of trouble.
10. Talk to your affiliates
Once you’ve used a great network to connect with new overseas affiliates, connect with them and ask for feedback. What do they think their audience could need? This could be specialized web content, particular seasonal sales, visual branding that connects with the audience and much more. They know their audiences and their countries; don’t miss out on this valuable source of information by not opening the lines of communication.
Spreading your wings
Going global with your affiliate activity can be daunting, but with a plan in place and a dedicated affiliate network behind you, the process can be simplified to suit your business’s needs.
Don’t be afraid to ask lots of questions, either from other business owners who have spread their business internationally, from the publishers you’ve connected with or speak with our staff at Awin. The world is your oyster.