Chris Bishop, founder of 7thingsmedia, came to Affiliate Management Days to talk about going global. He presented some great data points and information on the challenges any company faces when attempting to reach a global market. His talk was summarized in seven key points, which I’ve attempted to reframe with affiliate marketing in mind.
Localize Affiliate Landing Pages
Being localized means more than just converting the text on the page to the native language of the person shopping. You need a support infrastructure that allows for successful conversion. If you provide support, make sure the people who provide chat support or phone support are capable of communicating in the native language as well.
Understand market differences
International Markets Are Unique
Each country has specific characteristics that make doing business unique. Focusing specifically on customer relationships, payment options are one of the most common differences. Those of us in the United States need to realize not everyone in the world pays by credit card. Online banking transfers, direct debit, and even COD are common depending on the market. It’s also necessary to know the export and import limitations associated with the market you are selling to.
Invest Time in Country-specific Strategy
Going global isn’t a one-size fits all strategy. Each market will have unique differences. For instance, PPC campaigns in the U.S. are typically optimized around getting the buyer from the search engine to the company website for an online purchase. In China, 79 percent of purchases take place on Taobao.com. To market to the Chinese purchaser, you need to have a distribution agreement with Taobao.com before you launch.
Don’t Prevent Potential Customers From Buying
Avoid placing barriers to purchase in the way of transactions. Understand which payment terms are required in which markets. Online purchasing patterns are different in each country. In the United States, the average online shopper spends $550 per year. In the European Union, the average online shopper spends closer to $2000 annually. This difference may reflect the fact that U.S. shoppers have greater access to Wal-mart, but it’s a market opportunity for the online business capable of localizing for E.U. member countries.
Go local in each new global region by focusing on the full picture. Marketing communications need to be consistent with the region. Customer service needs to fit with local expectations. In some cases, you may need to have offices or fulfillment centers in the local market.
Shipping and Returns
Shipping can be a roadblock to going global. You might have the best global affiliate network bringing you new business from around the globe, but if you haven’t worked out the pricing of shipping to new global markets, there’s a potential to lose money on every sale. It’s also important to understand the economics of returns. Even the best products have some returns and those must be factored into any global strategy.
Shipping is also highly variable per region. For example a 2.2 pound package (1 kilogram) costs about $6 to ship in the U.S., compared with about $1 to ship the same package in most Asian countries.
Set Realistic Goals for Globalization
What are the short term, medium term, and long term goals you hope to accomplish by going global?
As Chris made evident at the start of his talk, global commerce is nothing new. He illustrated this point by going through the geography of his wardrobe, including a jacket made in Turkey, jeans from Tunisia, and hair wax from the United States. You can hear more of his thoughts on going global in the following video.
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