One of the questions I hear the most from clients is how they can expand their program globally to a new user base. Having managed programs globally, including launching in brand new geos where I did not know much to start, it’s easy to see where this is appealing and enticing to a brand. Being known globally is the dream.
If selecting the right partners to drive incrementality is like a game of Chess, then going global is like a game of Monopoly: You need to know your opponents, be strategic, and know where to spend your money to get the most bang for your buck.
There are a few key items to ask yourself before starting the game and playing to win.
Know your landscape, both on the board and off the board.
Did you know that German partners tend not to reply to you if you do not write to them in German? Did you know that most deals in the UK happen in the pub and not over email? I didn’t know either when I first got started in either region, but I learned about it quickly.
Each region has it’s own nuances when it comes to how a brand and a partner can work together and it’s not cut and paste. You’ll need a team in place that understands the caveats and can work with them, not against them. Moreover, having a team in place that understands not just the language but the local dialect will take you far (There’s a very subtle difference between Parisian French and Canadian French, for example). All of this will help you succeed off the board and be able to form long-lasting partnerships.
On the board, it’s easy enough to want to bring your brand to a new region, but what about cultural differences? Are you ready to offer different discounts and items per region?
Understanding the user behavior of where you are looking to launch will help you tailor your program effectively. If we’re looking at a hotel brand, for instance, offering free breakfast with your stay might work in the UK, but not necessarily in the US. Be willing and open to play around with your offering and get creative.
Invest wisely and don’t throw your money on any square.
It’s tempting to throw down money on any square you land on in Monopoly, but is it the right play? In the end, you might end up losing money. The same logic applies here: don’t just throw money into every region and hope it sticks. It doesn’t work and you’ll lose money and time.
Begin by understanding where your users are coming from outside of your primary region. If your main region is coming from the US but you have a good chunk of traffic coming from the UK, that would be your next bet. Start slow, build up momentum there before moving on to the next part of the world you want to conquer. It’s going to take time and money to get started and you need to be willing to take a potential loss in the first few months.
This is also a good time to evaluate if your affiliate network can help accomplish your goals. Are they able to track where users are shopping from in the world? Are they able to pay out and report in multiple currencies? Do you need to open a separate program just for this geo? This is where your friendly AIM team can help out and guide you here.
Prepare for the long game.
A key thing to make sure you have is a site and/or the option to translate the page in the local language. Folks from Japan aren’t going to always be willing to shop on an English site. This will require an investment from your site but will go a long way in helping you ensure that you can survive in the long run. This is the same principle of trying to build out hotels on your most profitable block on the board; it’s a bit of an investment but will payout when that unlucky player lands on it.
Make sure you are also doing enough in terms of branding outside of the affiliate channel. If customers don’t know in the region, they aren’t going to come through an affiliate to find you. Start branding campaigns, get loud, and make your voice heard!