June 24, 2014

Going Global with Your Affiliate Program: Things to Consider When Attracting Cross-Border Traffic

Going global with your affiilate programBy Peter Bexelius,
International Team Leader,

The United States alone is a large online marketplace.  In numbers, roughly $260B of e-commerce goods and services were transacted in 2013*.  And according to Forrester, the forecast for 2017 is $370B**.  While that’s a large and impressive number, did you know that in terms of growth, western European will outpace US in the next few years and grow by a  compound annual growth rate of 11% (vs. 9% in the US) to reach an estimated $260B by 2017.**

Ecommerce in Asia-Pacific is projected to surpass North America as a region this year, and China alone is expected to surpass the US by 2016.***

If we’ve managed to convince you that “There’s gold in them there hills’, or at least an opportunity worth considering, where do you begin?
Before targeting international online traffic for your affiliate program, ask yourself if:

1.  You sell products or services that serve multiple markets (such as consumer electronics, fashion or software) that are not highly localized.  Examples of products not readily generating vast international sales, could be thermometers in Fahrenheit, or say a Green Bay Packers Cheese Head (http://thecoloradoobserver.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/cheesehead.jpg).

2.  You see web traffic from other countries (5%+).  This % is not a hard and fast rule, but more of an indication that there is a demand for your products outside of the US.  If possible, you could track the demand by region, to plan and prioritize your global expansion efforts.

If you’re unsure about either of these two factors, then you probably need to re-evaluate the potential of international traffic.  On the other hand, if the answer to both of those questions is yes, then the following list of considerations is helpful for planning purposes:

3. You’ll need to ship to local markets:  How will your product reach it’s global destination?  Some countries may require a different carrier.  Must have.

4. You’ll want a local language landing page:  Will you translate your product page to other languages?  Not a Must, but helpful, particularly in some regions where English is not as accepted, ex.  France, Germany, Italy.

5. You’ll want a functional shopping cart. Not only do shoppers prefer to complete the shopping in their preferred language, keep in mind the shopping cart address fields will need to be adjusted to capture and recognize international address conventions.  The former is not a Must, but the latter is a Must.

6. You’ll need to account for currency and total price in your shopping cart:  Buyers prefer to see the total price in their local currency, including S&H, and taxes and duties.  Must have.

7. You’ll need to offer global payment options in your shopping cart:  Not all countries have the same credit card adoptions as the US.  Other countries offer a variety of payment methods including payment on delivery, bank transfer, or eWallets to name a few.  Must

8. You’ll want to consider providing local language support: Does your site provide checkout FAQs in various languages?  Not a Must.

All of the above factors are intended to make the consumer feel as comfortable as possible with overcoming the fact that they’re buying from US merchant rather than a domestic competitor.

The above are mainly merchant specific considerations.  But affiliates will have some additional considerations, in order for them to gauge the opportunity:

  • Payment mechanism and currency for publisher payouts:  Will publishers get paid in their preferred currency?  And through what payment type (check, EFT, PayPal, etc)?
  • Creative/feeds in local language:   For best results, banners and links should be localized, including language, currency and date formating.
  • Affiliate program Ts&Cs in local languages:  This helps publishers understand what you accept and don’t.
  • Regional Pricing:  Some markets may differ from your default US commission structure.

With these items addresses, you’re ready to take advantage of the opportunity and demand outside of the United States and start going global with your affiliate program.  And we’re here to support you all the way. Contact Peter Bexelius, Schaaf-PartnerCentric’s International Team leader, to discuss your plans for global expansion today.

* http://www.emarketer.com/Article/Total-US-Retail-Sales-Top-3645-Trillion-2013-Outpace-GDP-Growth/1010756
** http://mashable.com/2013/03/12/forrester-u-s-ecommerce-forecast-2017/
*** http://www.emarketer.com/Article/Global-B2C-Ecommerce-Sales-Hit-3615-Trillion-This-Year-Driven-by-Growth-Emerging-Markets/1010575