Creating and managing a successful affiliate marketing program is challenging enough in one’s home market – where everyone is familiar with the local nuances, language, and general program complexities. When it comes to expanding a program into a new country, those challenges grow exponentially. In order to set your affiliate program up for success, it’s essential to ask the right questions.
Here are five commonly asked questions about taking affiliate programs into a new market.
1. Do we need to have a physical presence in a new market in order to effectively launch our affiliate program there?
If you have a strong website and online presence, it may not be necessary to establish a physical presence in a new market. Simply offering overseas shipping and expanded payment options may be enough, which is also far simpler and less costly than establishing a physical presence. All that said, it’s imperative that you develop a website that is written in the language of the local market you’re expanding in to and that accepts the local currency. Online shoppers prefer to buy from sites that offer a personalized, culturally familiar experience.
2. How long should it take for our company to establish our existing affiliate program in a new market?
In our experience, it typically takes at least six months to get an affiliate program fully operational in a new market. With that said, many companies often find that it takes even longer because of unanticipated pitfalls. You can take measures to avoid delays by spending a significant amount of time up front analyzing:
- local spending habits
- how much effort will be required to market your products or services
- affiliate marketing compliance and regulatory requirements of the new market and
- which affiliate partners will have the most impact
3. What are some realistic goals I should set for my affiliate program before it launches in a new market?
Answering this question depends on your company’s overall marketing objective. For example, is your goal to drive incremental sales? Increase overall revenue? To work with long-tail affiliates to attract a niche audience? Each of these objectives requires a different approach.
Merchants looking for incremental sales are wise to focus on gaining new customers. As such, their strategy should involve partnering with new, innovative publishers in addition to content bloggers.
If the goal is to drive an increase in overall revenue, then the merchant should focus on reach with a strategy that includes working with coupon and loyalty affiliates.
Once you’re clear on what your goals are, you’ll be in a better position to develop an effective marketing strategy that will consistently generate strong revenue.
Additionally, keeping goals in line with the overall traction of the brand is the new market is very important. For example, if the brand is new to the market and does not have much recognition, it is unlikely that affiliates will be as enthusiastic as they would be if the brand was well known.
4. Can we expect to see similar results if the market we’re looking to expand into is similar in size to the one we’re active in now?
Every market is different, so there are no guarantees that you will see similar results in a market that shares some similarities. For example, there are structural differences in every market that will impact performance, such as branding and messaging, payment methods, delivery options, and taxes. A European retailer selling online in the U.S. for the first time may find it challenging to work with all of the different state regulations. And a U.S. retailer expanding into Europe for the first time may find it daunting to navigate the cultural complexities, payment methods, delivery options, and taxes for all of the different countries.
5. In our home market, we’ve successfully built a content-focused affiliate program with minimal use of incentives. What’s the likelihood we’ll be able to replicate that in a new market?
While it is definitely possible to replicate your success by tailoring your content to international audiences, at the end of the day, it will depend on the market. It’s important to educate yourself on the cultural differences of your new market. Each market is unique, so it’s unlikely that generic messaging will resonate with your target audience. This is where a good translator can be worth their weight in gold. They’ll be able to help with nuances in humor, terminology, expressions, and concepts that can be difficult to translate across cultures.
In addition to localizing content, it’s also a smart strategy to create cultural-specific promotions for your target affiliates. For example, while it may be possible to leverage Christmas-focused content for US and European affiliates, you’d only want to create Thanksgiving-related content for your US affiliates.
For help in answering other questions about taking your affiliate marketing program global, reach out to our Affiliate Marketing team.