In an increasingly connected world, a global affiliate marketing strategy is essential for any brand looking to grow their business across borders. Even though running international affiliate activities brings many new opportunities, various challenges such as language barriers, lack of market knowledge and brand awareness in specific countries will need to be considered to successfully expand at a global scale.

Here are the five top tips to ensure success when managing international affiliate marketing campaigns.  

1. Understand market differences

Before launching into any new market, brands must ensure they carry out extensive local research. This includes researching cultural nuances and market-specific communication approaches as well as the affiliate landscape within this market. Brands should also take other factors into account, such as global and local sales peaks and key retail dates to plan out timely campaigns and maximise performance.

Additionally, make sure you research your competitors within those markets and check if they run an affiliate programme. What has already been a success for that brand? How do they price their products or services? What brand messaging do they use in each market? It is vital to also look into how they run their affiliate programme, including commission structure, cookie window, incentives and the publisher exposures they are running in order to position your offering correctly.

Last but not least, legal factors are also important to consider and vary across borders. Adequate research should be carried out into any laws or regulations that may apply; this will ensure the brand and campaign are entirely watertight with each expansion undertaken.

2. Set realistic expectations

No market is the same. Different markets will be more or less established in terms of affiliate marketing but also in terms of your own brand awareness, and these both have to be considered as a measure of success. This is the reason why it’s essential to have a knowledge of the affiliate landscape within the market, to set realistic expectations and the correct objectives and KPIs, whether it is performance based or simply building your brand awareness. Achieving success in a new market will be a matter of trial and error – you can test various small campaigns to better understand what works in each market and learn from these before expanding activity.

3. Localise your affiliate programmes

Effective translation can make or break your campaign. In non-English speaking countries, it is important to have experienced translators or language speakers in place to adapt all materials from affiliate newsletters to campaign creatives, ensuring that communications are understood.

It is also highly advisable to have multilingual account managers who can speak the local language and have market-specific knowledge and experience. In addition, you would need to ensure that payments can be made in the relevant currency, quickly and easily, especially in markets where fast payment is key to publisher satisfaction.

4. Choose the right affiliate platform and get expert support

Local support is essential to maximise the impact of your affiliate programme. This can be done by choosing the best service providers in each region. The support can be obtained through a network or SaaS platform, which can work in combination with an agency, consultancy or an in-house team.

One option is to partner with an international agency that works independently with local partners in the markets you wish to expand to. They would need to be able to provide local language capabilities, to service your markets in real time and have deep cultural and in-market affiliate expertise.

Brands expanding globally also need to ensure that the right team structure is decided ahead of implementation. This will depend on the size of the global programme that is being launched. It can be either one global account manager who will collaborate with local teams and manage relationships with publishers or have a global team of account managers who will manage the countries or region they are responsible for.

5. Partner with local and global publishers

For any international programme, in addition to working with local partners, it is important to work with global publishers and ensure they are alive in all your active markets. These global partnerships offer a really productive way to drive volume and boost brand awareness in countries where it may have been relatively low previously.

To identify these global publishers, you can get support from the international agency or network, which can manage the relationship or make personal introductions. In addition, working with a single point of contact globally can make it easier and more time effective to manage publishers, rather than dealing with multiple contacts for each market.