From an international merchant perspective, after you have the “hottest” regions of the world already covered – North America and Western Europe – the next step is to look towards emerging markets. These markets provide room to expand if you address them the right way.
Consider using affiliates to expand into these markets. The beauty of going through affiliates is that it’s a quick way to achieve your market expansion goals with less resources compared to expanding into said new markets on your own.
Decide where to go
The most important step in expanding into new markets is to identify the territories into which you want to expand. Check your analytics, crunch the data, and see what the numbers suggest. Consider leaning towards territories that bring you customers or at least website visitors – there’s a higher probability of new, unique customers and subsequent sales from those regions; Don’t forget to make sure that the products/services you sell are relevant to those areas.
If you still don’t have a clear idea of where to go, check out where your competitors are present and see if it’s a good idea for you to follow down that same path.
Research the local affiliate markets
After you’ve decided which locales you’re going after, do a little market research on the affiliate landscape of those emerging markets. Check in with your current affiliate network and see what their affiliate sales in your target region are. Addressing affiliates servicing those territories will give you a good idea of the potential sales and customer growth.
For example, here are a couple of interesting stats about Avangate’s Affiliate Network sales in emerging markets:
- Brazil is in the top 10 countries for affiliate sales, and it has the best position within the BRIC countries;
- India, Mexico and Turkey are positioned very well with affiliate sales;
- Eastern European and Russian sales are about 2% of all the affiliate sales worldwide.
Also, weigh in the local affiliate networks, as they are bound to have local, knowledgeable affiliates who can drive volumes and help with exposure. As a starting point, check out Geno Prussakov’s series of posts on affiliate networks in different regions of the world:
Check out their communities, blogs and also look at local established agencies.
Emerging markets findings
Although there’s no general trend, here are some things that are common to all emerging markets. Take into account:
- The percentage of pay-per-lead campaigns is higher than in more mature markets, where pay-per-sale is the clear king. You could even stumble upon merchants paying their affiliates per click in some emerging markets’ networks.
- Online retail is the segment that is most popular in these markets. Overall there are very few specialized networks in certain verticals.
- Your business model – is it a fit to succeed in that emerging market
Best practices for emerging markets
In order to make the best of this new market expansion and accelerate the adoption of your products/services by affiliates, take into account:
- Local language support is necessary via your website, shopping cart and campaign materials for affiliates.
- Work with local affiliates – find the ones who can support you within your current affiliate program and investigate the opportunity to work with local affiliate networks.
- Use local agencies and local affiliate networks to help manage the program.
- Meet and take care of your best performers locally. Use performance tiers according to territory specifics.
- Address the local opportunities by creating a calendar of local hot shopping dates with campaigns to cater to each.
In conclusion, consider the expansion towards emerging markets via affiliates as pilot projects and a foreshadowing of future market potential. If everything goes well from a business perspective, you may consider expanding even more by adding a local presence to support your affiliate marketers’ efforts, by increasing payouts, and by investing more in custom products for those markets.