In the last few years, there has been a rise of international affiliate programs launching across brands, as retailers take a more global approach to affiliate marketing. There’s an increased understanding for the need to tap into as many markets as possible, to generate not only greater revenue but also greater traffic.

At Silverbean, we manage both the UK and German affiliate programs for the luxury French brand MONNIER Frères.

Following on from the success of the UK program, the German program launched back in 2014. Using UK market strategies that we have adapted, we have been able to grow the affiliate program considerably. If you aren’t familiar with MONNIER Frères or you are interested in the finer details of the results that we facilitated, you can check out our case study, but the reason we were able to achieve success was because we dedicated serious time to building key relationships.

Build it and they will come

First of all, it is important to fully understand the larger brand strategy and to bring together specific affiliate objectives which complement the other digital and traditional initiatives. Once you have the basics, you can progress and make sure that your objectives tie in with the overall goals of the brand.

MONNIER Frères are the largest high-end and luxury accessories website in France and with this being said, it was therefore key to keep luxury in mind at all times. We knew that it was imperative to keep the affiliate mix as ‘clean’ as possible and have clear guidelines for each type of affiliate, keeping to agreed categories from the brand and the network.

To be able to ensure the above, it means that we regularly needed to catch-up with the network with which the programs are run on, in this case it is Commission Junction. This gave us the ability to discuss any issues (very rare!), new affiliate opportunities and general program performance.

With the German program being live for well over a year, we have successfully built some strong relationships with the top content affiliates on the program now. We regularly offer them exclusive discounts, which they are able to promote to their audiences and depending on which offers they are – we often see some impressive uplifts.

Specifically for MONNIER Frères, the top performers continue to be the Weibo affiliates (which is, in layman terms is essentially the Chinese version of Twitter), cashback, content and voucher codes.

Whilst we have an even mix here, with the latter two publishers we have limited it to only 1 or 2 top sites for each program, to ensure that we maintain the luxury ethos of the brand. When it’s a luxury client, brand protection is pretty high on everyone’s agenda, and our Head of Affiliate Marketing, Louise James knows the score.

Blogger Outreach

You’ve more than likely heard us banging on about this in previous posts, but we are seeing an ever increasing growth of blogger outreach within affiliate programs, which only continue to strengthen the content mix.

Reaching out to a new market of bloggers was always going to be tricky to begin with, but from continued contact we have successfully been able to achieve this.

Building relationships was once again the key here. With agents such as Cover PR providing a starting point, we have been able to utilise our contact there, which has allowed us to grow relations with a number of influencers such as Bikinis and Passports, which have produced some stellar pieces for the brand, including the following…

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As a result of forming some great foundations, we are now in a position that means we now have bloggers approaching MONNIER Frères regarding gifting, which of course is always an advantageous position to be in.

This also reinforces that influencers are far more aware of the program than they may have been little over a year ago – which ties in nicely the importance of brand awareness that gifting products brings!

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More recently, we have put together a Q4 blogger strategy which includes a larger number of German blogs than we have previously seen. This encompasses the tier system, Gold, Silver and Bronze, which defines what value of gift we can offer or the discount code.

Building relationships = Beneficial performance

To date, we have seen the most successful month of the German program in June 2016.

Here the sale was live and as a standard process, we keep the affiliates updated via the CJ network, but also by communicating directly to make sure that the affiliates receive all messages.

Within this month the affiliate contribution from the program was 38.49% of all website sales and this was also an improvement of 458.29% from the previous year in June (where contribution was at 6.89%) – which again shows how much the program has developed and grown!

Taking a direct approach to speaking with the affiliates on the German program and not just sending newsletter, after newsletter, has provided us with greater visibility and we now know which offers will work best for each affiliate.

Also keeping in regular contact means that we can request that offers are scheduled in, especially around key dates such as Chinese Singles Day and Cyber Weekend.

If we take everything that we have mentioned up to this point into account, we can see the importance of building relationships in affiliate marketing.

We have also been able to apply these practices for some of our other international clients too. Clients such as Charlotte Tilbury US, and more recently the Charlotte Tilbury Canadian program, which launched in Q2 of this year.

Blogger outreach (brand awareness) has been a key objective here running alongside each new product launch for the brand. As well as keeping a close relationship with the Rakuten Affiliate Network, so much so that we are able to reach out to them if necessary, for help and advice or even for suggestions in these international markets.

Communication, setting and managing key expectations comes hand in hand with the ability to grow with the brand and developing knowledge in the market trends. Especially with luxury brands, keeping the brand’s identity in tact, while understanding their requirements, ties back in with the original objectives for most.

With more and more brands expanding their focus from one specific market (the UK!), to a more global approach, it is vital to understand that having an international presence is more important than ever, and this doesn’t happen without making some friends along the way!