Dustin Christensen of Blue Global Media knows that smart affiliates are killing it in international markets. Blue Global has some high converting international and here are Dustin's tips for taking your affiliate campaigns international for massive profits:
International affiliate marketing programs have been around for years now, but few affiliates have dared tread into international markets, where tax laws, uncertain markets and low quality traffic seem to be common obstacles. But for those affiliates brave enough to test the waters, there are plenty of opportunities emerging.
If you start now, you’ll be riding a wave that isn’t expected to crest anytime soon. In fact, things are just now starting to heat up overseas, and countries like the BRICI group – Brazil, Russia, India, China and Indonesia – offer a glimpse into what could be the future of performance marketing, where tech-savvy countries finally start to see widespread Internet use. Below are some ways you can start approaching international affiliate marketing.
International Success Factor #1: Know the Market and its Culture
If you have a number of potential foreign markets you’d like to enter, take the time to really get to know
their cultures. This doesn’t mean scanning the Wikipedia page for India or Indonesia, it means really
getting down to what drives the country.
Find out what the economic behaviors of the country are. Does the country seem to be in a decline,
or are prospects looking up? Financially, how has the country fared in the past few years, when many
countries have taken significant economic downturns?
Learning About the Culture
Aside from economic and financial aspects, you’ll want to learn more about the cultural side of the
country and its people. What values and belief systems do they have? What are typical work schedules
like? Where do they spend their disposable income? Is there much disposable income to go around?
Learn the country’s business etiquette. Does the country operate like the United States, where most
business dealings are explicit, or like China, where business etiquette is based on long-held customs,
traditions and other formal rituals?
Learning about the culture of the country you want to enter may seem a lofty and time-consuming goal,
but it will give you a better understanding of the driving forces behind the country. And when it comes
down to it, knowing consumer behavior is a huge part of success in affiliate marketing.
International Success Factor #2: Discover the Trends
Once you have a better grasp of the culture, you’ll want to discover the trends that are driving online
use. Some of the important stats to look at:
- - Internet penetration rates
- - Mobile penetration rates
- - Percent of homes with access to Internet
- - Social media penetration rates
- - Tablet use, if any
With this starting point, dig deeper into the online trends that are happening in the country. Look at
Brazil, for instance. With about 79 million Internet users, the country has an Internet penetration rate
of about 39%, and this is expected to reach 70% - 80% by 2015. That could translate into millions of new
potential consumers in just a few years.
Now look at Brazil’s Facebook penetration rate of 17.3%. This might not seem like much, but it shows
that nearly half of all Brazil’s Internet users are on Facebook – and many more on Twitter and other
social networks. With just this basic stat, it’s clear that social media is more popular in Brazil than other
emerging countries, and this is reflective of their lively, sociable culture.
On the other hand, China, with a similar Internet penetration rate – 38.5% - has less than 600,000
Facebook users because of the strict Internet regulations. Clearly, social media marketing would not be
the best route to take in this market.
The Importance of E-Commerce
One of the biggest trends you’ll want to check out is the state of e-commerce in the country. Thanks
to a strong economy and growing middle class, for example, Brazil is expected to see its e-commerce
grow 25% in 2012 and 22% in 2013 – just one of the reasons Brazil is such a hot market. In fact, Brazil
overtook the UK as the sixth biggest economy in the world, and is expected to become the fourth
biggest by 2015.
You can also use tools like Google Insights for Search to see the most commonly searched keywords
and phrases throughout the world. Break it down by industry to get an even better idea of what other
countries are searching for.
Trends like this should point you in the right direction. If the international market you’re looking at is
showing signs of life and vitality, chances are, affiliate marketing will thrive there in the near future.
International Success Factor #3: Find the Best Partners
Though international networks and merchants are few and far between, it’s important to find reputable
partners you can trust. The affiliate networks that operate overseas often have to deal with a host of
issues that domestic networks don’t deal with, so for that reason, it may be hard to find an affiliate
network working in the market you’re interested in.
When looking for networks and merchants to join, look for companies that have a solid grasp of
international affiliate marketing – those with international presences and clients – not just those
companies that run a few small, inconsistent offers in other countries.
Blue Global Media, for instance, conducts thorough market research before entering a new country.
This finance-focused affiliate network optimizes, tests and retests international campaigns to make sure
they are sustainable for affiliates. They know the local tax laws and regulations, and know how to create
campaigns that are effective and compliant. It’s this type of commitment that will help you succeed and
get past the issues of fraud that are often common overseas.
International Success Factor #4: Focus on the Testing
You’ve found and researched the country you want to deal in, you’re working with a network that
knows how to approach international markets – time to start testing. In general, some of the issues
facing international affiliates include fraud, low quality traffic and offers that disappear as quickly as
So you’ll be doing testing. And a lot of it. Fortunately, international markets aren’t saturated the way
US e-commerce is, so you’ll be able to continuously test new offers and approaches for a fraction of the
cost of testing in the US market.
Test Based on Your Research
This is also where your research and knowledge of the culture will come in handy. You’ll know, if you’re
getting into the China market, that Baidu is the most popular search engine, and you’ll tailor your paid
and organic search campaigns to meet their standards.
You’ll know that Google is used for 90% of searches in Brazil, despite a recent survey by Experian that
revealed Bing to be the most effective search engine in the country. If mobile marketing is your thing,
you’ll know that India has nearly 900 million mobile phone users, and expects to add an additional 200
million in 2012.
When you’re testing, consider the needs of the consumers that are new to you. They aren’t always
motivated by the same things as US consumers, and much depends on the economic classes you’re
targeting. The middle classes of many emerging countries are growing, and affiliate offers that cater to
this class will likely have the best chances of profitability. In the end, it’s about testing to find a long-
term, sustainable international strategy.
Weighing the Risks and Rewards of International Markets
For many affiliates, the risks of international affiliate marketing may outweigh the potential rewards.
With so much work up front, it’s an investment of time, money and personal resources that some
marketers might not be comfortable making.
But for those who do, the potential for massive profits is limitless. The keys to success abroad are
understanding, focus, connection and patience: understanding countries, focusing on their needs and
connecting with local trends. And doing so patiently, knowing that you’re in a marathon, not a sprint.
In 2015, there will be more than 1.2 billion Internet users in the BRICI countries alone. By 2016, there’s
expected to be more mobile devices than living humans. Inside this massive growth is the chance for
international affiliate marketing to flourish. The future of affiliate marketing is abroad, and for affiliates
willing to take the leap, a world of opportunity awaits.
Dustin Christensen is the Content Director for Blue Global Media, an affiliate network specializing in the consumer finance vertical.