May 28, 2014

Are You Ready to Track Your Affiliate Program Internationally?

Written by Tom Rathbone, 

Senior Technical Solutions Specialist at Schaaf-PartnerCentric

Tom Rathbone provides our clients with a technical resource for not only selecting the network platforms that will work best given the client’s specific needs but also for ensuring that the network integration process goes smoothly. Since becoming our dedicated technical expert one year ago, Tom has completed more than 100 technical integrations on behalf of our clients.

We at Schaaf-PartnerCentric are an international organization. With employees and clients around the world, we are believers in the growing tide of cross-border trade, particularly in the affiliate channel.

The international e-commerce market is expected to expand more than twice as fast as the US online retail economy from 2012 to 2017, according to International Data Corp.

Additionally, eMarketer’s forecasts predict a 20% increase in worldwide B2C e-commerce sales in 2014 alone. That is attributed to “rapidly expanding online and mobile user bases in emerging markets, increases in m-commerce sales, advancing shipping and payment options, and the push into new

international markets by major brands.”1

Expanding internationally could be a huge opportunity for you.Countries where Schaaf-PartnerCentric has launched affiliate programs

None of this, however, is possible with the affiliate channel unless you have the technical capabilities. Let’s say you want to expand your affiliate channel to utilize affiliates (and their customers) in other markets. Great! We have a few quick questions for you:

  • Are you prepared for that technically?
  • Are you going to conditionally fire the tracking pixels yourself? Is that the most effective way to track? (In many cases, it’s not.)
  • Are you selling your goods in multiple currencies?
  • What exchange rate will you be using? Is it real-time? Are the amount parameters in your tracking pixels reflecting that?
  • How about payment methods – are you using the payment methods preferred by the local customers – Boleto in Brazil, bank transfers in Italy? Are you set up to track those sales (and deal with the higher reversal rates)?
  • How about the multitude of different pixel formats around the world? From our experience, they are far from consistent. Are you prepared to implement those concurrently?
  • Do you have a product catalog available in multiple languages? And multiple currencies? And in the format needed for each network?

That’s quite a bit to consider, and there is much more yet. So, how do we at Schaaf-PartnerCentric approach these many conundrums?

1. We start with you. We’ll take a look at your business,where it is now and where you want to bring it. You may not be ready to launch in every market but by taking a look at your multiple language platforms, payment methods and overall strategy, we can formulate a plan that will get you where you need to be.

2. Plan to scale. Because of our experience implementing affiliate tracking in more than 35 markets, we can anticipate the scaleability issues. We’ll work with you to implement  container pixel technology and build all potentially necessary parameters into that single pixel. That way we can use those parameters to programmatically deliver the necessary parameters for each network. This not only keeps your site clean, it keeps us out of your dev queue – and we know it’s a big queue.

3. Work as a knowledgeable intermediary. There’s a good deal of noise out there. We’ll work directly with the affiliate network tech teams to install the tracking ourselves in the container. If for some reason Murphy’s Law decides to rear its ugly head, and we do need to engage your tech team, we will filter out the noise and give them the concise, actionable requirements needed so they can get on with their other projects.

4. Use your business model. Many of these networks may not function the way you are used to seeing. Perhaps you want to pay out for different product categories. That’s simple to do in some networks and unreasonably complex in others. We want to make sure that each market you expand into is still functioning within your business model. It may take some fancy pixels, or it may take some workarounds. We’re prepared to work that out.

5. Rinse and repeat.