How To Manage A Successful International Affiliate Network
Congratulations! You've established your brand and experienced success at regional and national levels. The next logical step is to expand your business with an international affiliate network.
Asian Pacific consumers have surpassed Americans and are now the world's largest emarket consumers. Mexico and the African continent are marked for huge emarket growth and are expected to reach sales of $2.05 trillion by 2016.
Those global dollars are being spent across borders as never before, making this the right time to expand internationally and introduce your brand to new audiences. However, this can become a business disaster if you try to handle everything alone and without the right resources in place. This endeavor certainly calls for a business partner who know the ins and outs of affiliate marketing both locally and globally.
Some small agencies may proclaim to provide global coverage, when their only presence is one person working out of his or her home. Larger companies may have actual offices, but their staff may lack affiliate marketing knowledge.
This is where SaaS (Software as a service) can step in and become your valuable business partner. Today's affiliate marketing landscape is being created through the use of SaaS and local managed service providers. SaaS solutions can provide you with the ability to expand your market and thus, profits, by creating a global presence.
Unlike traditional software which is conventionally sold as a perpetual license with an upfront cost, SaaS providers generally charge a per month or annual subscription fee. Consequently, the initial cost that consumers pay for SaaS is typically lower than the equivalent enterprise software.
This lower cost for new customers enables some SaaS vendors to offer applications using the freenium model. In this model, a free service is made available with limited functionality or scope, and fees are charged for enhanced functionality. Other SaaS applications are completely free to users, with revenue being derived from advertising which is yet another opportunity to raise revenues through a separate branch of affiliate marketing
A key driver behind the potential for SaaS growth in global markets will be your vendors' ability to provide a price that is competitive with local, onpremises software.
A robust SaaS system will allow you to work hand in hand with experienced local partners at the other end of things. Those local personnel will know the best networks, platforms and strategies for their particular market, while your SaaS software provides them with everything they will need to represent and market your brand.
The hubandspoke approach to marketing is found in the business model of Star Alliance, a network of airlines that are affiliated and flying worldwide. Passengers buy one ticket, but have access to a variety of airlines depending upon which offers the best route. The result is an enjoyable trip with the consumer's convenience and comfort in mind.
Applying the Star Alliance model and a relevant SaaS system to global marketing will allow your company to work with the best partner for each individual country, thus delivering the ideal consumer experience to your new international customers.
Your point agency (the hub) will apply the best resources to each market. This can include networks, SaaS platforms, and local agencies. Global partners (the spokes) will on their end, develop best strategies for the local market, seek out additional affiliates, protect the brand's reputation, and manage daytoday operations on the ground.
Once you find an agency that is willing to help you organize your global marketing, there are a number of contingencies to consider in order to be assured you are working with the best possible partners in each country:
Find the experts
Local affiliates should clearly understand the marketing opportunities and cultural details of that country. They should be knowledgeable about the affiliate industry, your product, and how it pertains to their country's consumers. Interaction through your SaaS system will ensure your brand resonates with that region's customer base.
Your international affiliates will have their own unique legal circumstances. Each country has its own laws governing business, marketing and taxes. It will be your responsibility to ensure each partner understands the laws your company needs to comply with in their country.
Expand beyond affiliate marketing.
If affiliate marketing is your only strategy in a new region, your enterprise will be limited from the beginning. Instead, your affiliate program should be part of a larger brand strategy, and be complemented by other digital and traditional methods. This multifaceted approach will ensure your brand is flexible and responsive to the challenges within each new market.
Just because an agency or network says it has regional coverage or claims to have mastered an affiliate market doesn't mean you should take it at its word. Do a little research on the country or region and ask relevant questions.
You may have to speak to a few prospective partners before you find the one that will best represent your program and work toward meeting your brand's goals. When you carefully vet and choose your partners in each region, you will absolutely increase the chance of finding new international customers and growing your global market share.