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Expanding Your Affiliate Program Globally: What You Need to Know

Over the last year, worldwide retail e-commerce sales grew by 27.6%. This growth is primarily due to the global COVID-19 pandemic, which has forced brands to adopt e-commerce strategies and driven buyers to shop online.

The recent boost in globalization has also generated opportunities for brands to engage with new audiences and grow their reach across borders. Consumer demand, active affiliate partners and regional best practices are all important points to consider before embarking on a global expansion.

In this post, we will share some unique considerations for brands looking to expand their affiliate program globally.


Why Affiliate Marketing is the Most Efficient Marketing Channel to Scale

The affiliate channel is a low-risk approach for brands expanding into new regions. The pay-on-performance model significantly reduces financial risk, as you only pay for guaranteed outcomes.

In addition to this, the channel is dynamic, flexible and can adapt to new areas of focus when needed. The dynamic nature of affiliate marketing can help to support brands as they navigate new markets and scale.


Doing Business Abroad: The Defining Elements

While affiliate marketing might be the safest option financially for global expansion, it is still complex, country-specific and requires substantial planning and preparation. Global brand Swarovski highlighted some unique differences found across countries in their 2020 PI Live Global presentation: “Global Affiliate Marketing Strategy: Standardization vs Adoption and the Missed Potential in Partnerships.”

We learned that in Japan, loyalty schemes and reviews are of prime importance to the success of brands, whereas Italy has low internet usage and is still developing its affiliate marketing industry. The role of culture also plays a huge part in successful growth in areas such as negotiation, conflict resolution and multinational team building, which was highlighted by AP Summit speaker Karen Cvitkovich.


Local or Global: Adapting Your Affiliate Marketing Strategy

When expanding globally, it is vital to source local expertise. Even for large brands, having the ability to speak the same language and understand culture can make a significant difference. An effective way for brands to build trust is to personally connect with local business contacts and affiliates. It is important to build in a long-term strategy for each location and keep some elements standardized across regions.


Is Global Expansion the Next Step for Your Affiliate Program?

Careful consideration should be taken when deciding to expand globally. It requires significant time, investment, and commitment to become worthwhile. Working with a reliable partner who has local expertise can help to increase your chances of success in a new region. For lots of brands this can mean working closely with an expert affiliate marketing agency.


Advice from a Global Affiliate Management Agency

We pride ourselves on understanding regional market changes and supporting clients with global affiliate programs. Our team of experts help to ensure we launch, elevate and activate in the right places at the right time. Below we have outlined six key areas to consider when looking to expand overseas.


1. Explore

Exploring the new region is a major part of building trust and establishing foundations. Finding out e-commerce adoption, if there are any high-quality affiliate partners in the new country and confirming adequate demand for the product are all examples of important questions to clarify.


2. Plan

Affiliate marketing maturity differs globally, so identifying affiliate partners to work with depends on market knowledge. We recommend focusing on smaller achievements and meeting goals incrementally in each region first. Brands should also ensure team members are physically present in the new environment.


3. Allow for Course Correction

There is no instruction manual when it comes to expanding globally. If an affiliate program in one region is experiencing an upward trend, it could be time to reallocate resources and pivot focus. Timeframes can change unexpectedly, and you might find relationship-building with partners varies globally.


4. Manage Expectations

Be realistic with your goals from the beginning. Strategies will need to be implemented, tested and improved, which takes time. Cultural nuances are equally as important. Some cultures prefer face-to-face contact with clients and partners to close deals, which could involve a travel commitment and investment.


5. Collaborate

Sharing any challenges impacting performance can help to generate new learnings, and tracking should be optimized by all team members to help measure success in the region. Weekly calls across time zones to share any regional developments can be a great way to keep everyone on the same page.


6. Seek Guidance

High quality partners can offer insider knowledge about the market, cultural nuances and even share expert knowledge about local messaging for promotional materials. Breaking into a new market is often more successful with a program management team who are already active in the region.


For more information about multi-region affiliate programs visit our global site, or contact our team of experts today!