Performance marketing series: Tips for managing international affiliate relations

How can international affiliate relations be managed effectively?

The Drum catches up with a cross-section of performance marketing experts to discuss the key questions facing the industry.

Over the next few days, The Drum will publish a series exploring developments in performance marketing, to coincide with the publication of The Drum's latest quarterly performance supplement dissecting the space.In today's article, our panel discuss their advice for managing international affiliate relations.Tina Judic, managing director, FoundDigital marketing gives us global reach, but when it comes to international affiliate relations it pays to take the time to get to know individual markets, the key brands and the way customers engage online within each market. It’s so easy to assume that you can simply replicate a UK campaign and enjoy the same success with it elsewhere. As a search publisher and agency, we also know the importance of understanding the differences of the search – from the functions available within Google across the markets to the varying search engines who dominate in different countries. For example, Baidu owns 67 per cent market share in China (a country with 513 million web users and 164 million online shoppers) and, whilst technically it’s not dissimilar to Google, there are many variations to the standard Adwords model.Jo Thomas, assistant head of performance marketing, DigitasLBiThe easiest thing to forget is time zones; you have to remember that not everyone works within your local time zone. Remember to be mindful of the ways in which your affiliates want to work, some affiliates may write perfect English but they may struggle to speak fluently. Find out how your partners want to work with you from the very start to develop a good working relationship with them. Skype is a must have when dealing with international affiliates. Carla Arrindell, client services director, OMGCommunication and setting and managing expectations is key – many brands will manage an international campaign from a central contact based in one territory, which can make understanding the opportunities and limitations of a specific market difficult. Similarly, ensuring that publishers across the various territories understand a brands identity and requirements can be challenging, so clarity on all these aspects is vital.Having an agency or network team on the ground is crucial to achieving this. Every market has its own nuances and unique trends, and to truly drive success in each territory, a team or contact who knows that market well and can turn that expertise into tangible strategy and tactics is key.Kevin Edwards, strategy director, Affiliate WindowIt’s important for affiliates to recognise there are cultural differences around promotional activity between regions and countries. The UK has probably the ‘cleanest’ affiliate mix in the world due to a strong central, self-regulatory framework and certain traffic or promotional mechanisms allowable in the US or Germany, for example, wouldn’t be allowed here. As a general rule, if your activity is permitted in the UK you are probably secure wherever you go. Advertisers should be mindful that their T&Cs have to reflect this mix. They should also consider that whilst mainstream networks overseas may forecast good sales volumes this may not take into consideration this quality threshold that many UK brands work towards. I would also recommend advertisers get the basic reporting right. We’re able to split sales by territory but just because an affiliate is geographically based in one country it doesn’t mean they will not have traffic sources elsewhere. Similarly, having the ability and resource to manage many supplier relationships may be necessary as there is no such thing as a truly global affiliate network, therefore a variety of local experts may be your best bet. Stephen Kerin, managing director, Webgains UKThere’s always a balance to strike between global and local management. For international advertisers, we would always recommend having a global account manager who can oversee all markets and at the same time having local account managers in each market. Aside from the obvious benefits such as being able to support publishers in local languages, these local teams will have a much better knowledge of their own markets. They will understand the nuances of these territories and will know the lie of the land and this is crucial to ensuring that the program performs optimally across all markets.Martin Ferguson, director of publisher services, Rakuten LinkShareWorking with a trusted global network that can advise you on publisher relationships abroad is the best place to start. Partnerships with well known international publishers can do wonders for unknown brands in a new country, introducing your brand to new audiences through a trusted publisher and associating your brand with the right sites for your audience. Recent research we did with Forrester reveals that three quarters of UK shoppers have bought cross-border in the last twelve months highlighting the potential of an international presence.”Eleanor Pickering, head of advertiser development, Commission JunctionCommunication is key to managing any relationship; there are huge differences in consumer behaviour across international regions and it’s imperative that both network and advertiser recognise this. If you’re an advertiser looking to coordinate efforts across regions, make sure you lean on your network’s international capabilities and know how. Understanding how your international programme is running and performing will allow you to be more flexible in the management of local opportunities as you understand each element of your programme and how everything fits in together, what’s delivering, what’s not delivering and where best to invest for growth.James Maley, head of corporate clients North West, TradedoublerIn the EU, cross-border purchases are currently rising to nine per cent, with the region expecting and encouraging this to exceed 20 per cent by 2016. Likewise, Portuguese and Spanish partners are driving huge amounts of traffic into the Latin American and Brazilian area. It’s a huge commercial opportunity, so to successfully manage your international affiliate relations you need to:
  • Make it easy for the publisher to get paid
  • Deliver your campaign in the local language
  • Offer your campaign in the local currency
  • Make shipping costs transparent
  • Stay knowledgeable and on top of market trends
  • Use marketing channels effectively
  • Assign one trusted point of contact
Keyboard image courtesy of Shutterstock

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