Top tips for a successful international affiliate program

The home and garden sector is rife with opportunities for globalisation, with many home brands looking to expand their affiliate programs internationally.

It’s no surprise that brands are looking towards the affiliate channel when launching into new territories. A well-managed affiliate program with a healthy partner mix can take your marketing from ‘good’ to ‘great’, helping you meet your key objectives, whether that’s selling more of a certain product with a high profit margin or simply raising brand awareness.

At Silverbean, we’ve worked hard to take our clients’ affiliate programs into new territories, tailoring our approach in line with brand-specific and sector-specific requirements with huge success. Here are our top tips for ensuring your international affiliate program is optimised and delivering those all-important results.

Know your (international) audience

Here is where your research comes in. Become an expert in your target market and uncover local opportunities that are relevant to the home sector.

Start by noting key calendar dates in the countries in which you already operate. Key shopping dates in North American countries include Thanksgiving, Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Within European countries, the dates above may not be as prevalent, but countries have their own key dates such as Saint Nicholas Day (in many EU countries), Karneval/Fasching in Germany or Bastille Day in France. Knowing the key national holidays will really help strengthen your program and also help to create truly bespoke and creative campaigns.

You should also consider dates relevant to the home and garden sector. For example, Q4 is generally not as crucial for the vertical as it is for other sectors, such as fashion and sportswear. While Q4 is still a peak period, it’s a smaller peak compared to Q1, when consumers look to place larger orders on furniture or similar items or spend their Christmas money on sprucing up their homes. For many of our clients, Q4 is the perfect time to ramp up towards Q1 instead. Consider brand building during this time, and tactics such as A/B testing, smaller-scale campaigns etc. to maximise return in the new quarter. It’s all about aligning your calendar with your consumer – and their behaviour.

Ensure you don’t focus on a holiday/key date that isn’t widely celebrated in your country of focus. The biggest example for this is Halloween. Halloween is celebrated differently and on different days across multiple different countries and cultures. By knowing about your local markets, you can tailor the opportunity or re-evaluate the key marketing dates for other regions so you can effectively spend or target customers with offers that relate to them.

It’s all about the money

You should be aware of the spending habits per country, as this will greatly affect your affiliate mix. Does the country you wish to expand into have to rely more on savings, instant or otherwise? Is the country more reliant on others’ opinions and reviews of a brand? Or do the customers prefer to research all options in the market to not only get the best deal but also the best quality product or offering? All of these factors should inform how you approach and build your affiliate mix in a new territory.

By knowing your consumers’ spending behaviour, you can then develop the affiliate mix and focus on the affiliates that are known to target new customers. As a result, you should expect to set aside a larger budget for good exposure within any new market. You will need to increase your brand awareness in each market, and, depending on exchange rates and familiarity with the brand or service, this could affect the cost for exposure booking.

Adapt products for your market

Can you change how your website appears to customers depending on their location? Bear in mind that for the home and garden sector, each market is different. Make sure your website is flexible for different customers and targets them with content and products that are relevant to their needs.

Within the home and garden sector, it is recommended to understand housing within the different markets. This will help you to understand which products or services will work within the market. The biggest example per country is the housing split, within the UK on average 18% of the population live in flats with 71% of the population owning their home. This is vastly different in some EU countries with 52% of the population in Germany renting their homes and 62% living in flats. In France 41% of the population live in flats, but 58% own their homes. Understanding this will help tailor your products per country.

For example, countries that have a high flat population may not require garden products but may prefer smaller furniture products to suit the smaller spaces. In stark contrast, within the US over 77% of the population live in houses compared to 20% living in flats. Again, due to the increase in home space and garden space, they would have different needs than their EU counterparts.

Lastly, within the home and garden sector, a common discussion piece is sustainability. With many opinions and options to reduce waste happening and focusing on what happens at home. Keep this in mind when focusing on markets, as this will help tailor how you approach a market. Some may have more stringent rules or different societal norms than other countries or your own.

For example, many EU countries are finding new ways of being more sustainable, increasing recycling opportunities, reduction in car pollution etc. Knowing the country’s views and actions around this topic will also help you to focus on how to introduce your brand to the new market in a way that it fits with the country’s own sustainability goals.

Take the quick wins

Make sure that your website is translated into the appropriate languages, it’s a quick win when it comes to increasing conversion rates. Although English is the lingua franca on the internet, don’t forget that some users may prefer to convert on sites that are in their own language.

Delivering your campaign in the local language will not only ensure that customers are engaged but it means affiliates are more inclined to join your program. Studies show that 55% of people prefer to buy in their native language: 61% of French consumers prefer to buy in their native language and this number is only slightly lower in Germany, at 58%. If you don’t have your site translated you may be missing out on over half of the potential customers within the market.

So, you’re ready to take your brand global? Get in touch to find out how we can help your brand.

Samantha Bibby

Samantha Bibby
11 Oct 2021