Expanding your business into the Asia Pacific (APAC) market can be an exciting and challenging time. With 48 countries in the region, it can often lead many to question where they should begin. Australia is proving itself to be the growing frontrunner in the region with increased affiliate talent and valuable brands expanding to the country in the last few years.
Australia has a population of approximately 26 million people with an internet penetration of 88%. Year over year, e-commerce sales continue to rise, with 2019 showing a steady 17.2% increase from 2018. While this means digital marketing is a must for any brand nowadays, partner marketing is a standout since it is a pay for performance channel. Brands are catching on to the minimal, upfront cost this channel boasts and converting their digital strategy accordingly.
The IAB Australia’s latest 2020 insights reported that over one-third of brands and agencies are allocating around 10% of their overall marketing budget in the affiliate/partnerships space with intentions to continue to increase that spend over the next 12 months. Partner marketing has shown its value in ROI and brands are viewing the channel as a necessary part of their overall marketing strategy.
Besides the statistics that back up expanding your programme to the region, Australia’s geographic location along with its generally western culture, make it a prime location for European and American business to capitalise. If you feel Australia is the next step for bringing your business to the APAC region, then read on for some key market expansion tips and nuances.
1. Cultural adaptations
Australia overall is a westernised country with symbiosis stemming from the UK. Two of the most-significant cultural differences I have learned as an American are:
Laidback work culture: Australians value work-life balance, receiving a minimum of 4 weeks paid annual leave. Australian’s often take this leave all at once (something uncommon in the US) to travel to new countries and spend time with family. Australians view their family as their main priority and shutting work-life off to enjoy their personal lives is expected- don’t email them on the weekend, save your email for Monday morning.
Build trust: Trust and relationship building in Australian business culture is a huge factor. If you are not building a relationship with your partners, I guarantee you will hit a standstill and things will not progress. Facetime is key, inviting your contacts to discuss business over lunch or an afternoon drink is a common approach. Aussies like to know who they are doing business with, open up and get to know your contact on a personal and professional level, it will go miles!
2. A less mature market
The partner marketing industry is still in its early stages in Australia. For those coming from a more mature market such as the UK or US, you will find it feels about five years behind where the industry currently stands in those countries. As partner marketing grows in popularity, there is a ton of opportunity for thought leadership as well as brand and affiliate strategy when it comes to running a programme in the region. Education is key. Brands often need to be educated that this is a pay for performance channel with great ROI potential, while affiliates tend to need a push to steer away from flat spend models and adapt to a CPA.
3. Location is important
Australia is a huge country. So, where do you start when putting boots on the ground? Currently, Sydney is the country’s leading affiliate hub, with Melbourne as a second business hot spot. Keep in mind that domestic travel is often quick and efficient. A flight from Sydney to Melbourne is only an hour and thirty minutes. Remembering the value of facetime in this culture, those flights are often worth it to build relationships across cities with different partners in the space!
4. Allocate budget to aid business growth
Travel to Asia: Australia is a great starting point for APAC business growth; however, you will want to allocate a budget for your employees to travel to other key countries in the region. Some current standout countries in the industry include Singapore, China, Thailand, and Korea.
Events and speaking engagements: Attending industry events as a guest or a presenter in APAC is key to getting your company recognised. As the industry is still new here, thought leadership is sought after. Hosting a panel discussion is a great way to get yourself established in the market and a popular format at events.
Flat whites and pints: Knowing that those face to face meetings are valued, remember to have money available to treat your contact to a morning coffee (my Aussie staple is a flat white) or an afternoon pint! Oh, one other thing I should point out, Fosters is NOT the beer of choice here despite the rumours. You’ll come off well versed in Aussie beers by grabbing a Victoria Bitter or Coopers instead.
As the partner marketing space grows in popularity in APAC, you will not regret picking Australia as your regional hub. The industry here is continually evolving, with new affiliates, platforms, and marketers entering the space on what seems like a weekly basis! The talent is incredibly hardworking, creative, and collaborative as everyone works to educate brands on the value of the pay for performance channel. With the rapid growth and success in the industry I have seen over my 18 months here, I can confidently say it is only a matter of time before partner marketing becomes a must have in business across the Asia Pacific region.