Having studied international business at university this was a talk that I was particularly interested in hearing. The panel were introduced by chair, Florian Gramshammer, as the “The United Nations of affiliate marketing“ as there were representatives from 5 different countries on the panel. The panel began the session by setting up some of the common questions they find themselves answering, and sometime asking themselves, including:
- “Why should you try to enter another country?”
- And if you have decided on international expansion then “where do you go and what do you base that decision on?”
- Chair: Florian Gramshammer, Country Manager at ValueClick
- Panelist: Simon Bird, General Manager at Savoo
- Panelist: Alexander Bock, Director Of Online Marketing for Arvato
- Panelist: Javier Ildefonso, EMEA Acquisition Manager for Symantec
- Panelist: Luke Judge, Sales And Marketing Director for Net Media Planet
The panel outlined 5 key areas of focus for when building a global brand, these are:
- Brand Protection
- First look at the countries that you have some existing knowledge on. For European countries this is often the obvious candidates: Germany, France, UK, but have you considered other markets?
- Remember that affiliate marketing came to fruition 8-10 years ago in Europe, North America and Australia, there are still markets that are yet to reach this stage like South America or the Middle East…
- If you move into a market with a ‘shit hot’ solution then consider the PR value of that. By optimising your PR efforts you could benefit from a real boost in your initial SEO efforts
Mainly the considerations were around: timezones; payment methods and currency, key points below:
- Ask yourself if you need to use the local currency? Yes, to get the best conversion rate but you might be able to function well without this
- Ireland is an obvious example for UK retailers as “Irish people don’t mind paying in pounds” said Luke Judge, Australia are another country that aren’t adverse to paying in pounds (GBP) or dollars (USD) either
- North America, Canada and Australia are also obvious first-choices European businesses to sell there. These markets are all examples of proven economies, there are others that may be touched upon later on…
- Javier added that “payment methods is really important” and can often be the difference between success and failure; beware that in emerging countries this can vary quite a lot
- The panel gave examples of Brazil where it is not so much about the payment method, but the payment habit: they are far more comfortable paying in instalments e.g. 6-12 months offers than up front.
- Some markets still only use ‘cash on delivery’, literally paying the delivery man on your door step; which just seems alien to us….
- Consider Timezones, these can be a real pain! Consider the Philippines and South Africa, specifically Durban. Try out this cool tool to check for yourself.
- Think about pricing carefully, different markets will dictate different prices (and price expectations) especially for digital downloads
- Language is an issue – you don’t have to speak them all, but a level of understanding is advised
- Regarding the internationalisation of a websites carefully consider SEO implications, are you using ccTLDs (.fr, .it, .de.) or have you thought about using hreflang markup
- Don’t forget about cookies and understand local market legislation
- You don’t need to test the whole site to test a market: Serve a landing page; offer sizing charts (as these differ worldwide); spell out delivery times/costs up front; explain that the local version is in progress
- Landgrabbing social media accounts and domains – this can be difficult/costly later on
- Whitelisting your brand with Google in competitive countries – for smaller countries like Belgium and Finland this won’t be a major issue.
- Trademark your brand
- Get great legal and accountancy support – cover yourself for potential issues
- “Some of Net Media Planet’s retail clients report some 6-7% of their total sales from users that have laptops that aren’t even set in English” – the international opportunity is great
- There’s a large tendency for retailers (specifically in the UK) to think too close to home. Software and digital downloads transcend borders
- Symantec take $40 million a year of it’s top 15 different countries most are emerging economies: Middle East, Russia, South Africa
- How much will local traffic will cost you? Including investment in SEO and PPC – some markets are incredibly expensive for paid!
- ASOS are a great example of a UK-based business, who using logistics and great international vision to great effect!
- Critically assess existing target market content: check the keyword volumes (search volume); are there networks in the market ‘or are you starting fresh’; check how difficult is it to recruit in market, or are you going to serve it virtually?
- “Make you own roadmap” – Look at your business first and then consider when the right time to expand is. Early-mover advantage naturally brings with it a strong market position for the future but can be dangerous
- “Monkey see monkey do” – Look externally and see what other people might be doing in that space. It’s a combination of factors, at Savoo – Simon says that they tend to spend about 30% of their time ‘betting on the known’ and 30% of their time ‘betting on the unknown’
- If you go into a market and it doesn’t work then: roll-back, regroup and try again in a years time – markets are changing rapidly