Across the Pond: UK Affiliate Marketing Challenges – By Jamie Tapia

by Colleen on April 15, 2013

Figures from eMarketer project UK E-commerce sales to hit $142 billion in 2013.

FeedFront Magazine, Issue 22This may leave you wondering how to get a slice of that British pie. In this article are a few things to consider when launching an affiliate program in the UK, and some helpful tips to get you started.

When looking to expand your brand internationally, the UK is the most logical step for US merchants looking to get their feet wet. The language barrier is easily overcome with proper research and preparation, and affiliate marketing is one of the most simple and cost effective ways to brand build.

There are several challenges a US merchant can expect to face upon expansion to the UK marketplace. One such challenge is a relatively slow ramp up compared to a US program launch. This is particularly true with an unknown brand.

A US merchant with an unknown brand will have difficulty gaining exposure, building recognition from publishers, and should expect the same challenges as starting a new business from the ground up. According to a study done by the IAB (Internet Advertising Bureau) nearly 48% of advertiser spend in the UK in 2012 came from top UK cashback, loyalty and voucher sites.

This comes as no surprise, as the UK population is known to be more “deal-sensitive”, according to Reineke Reitsma of Forrester. Getting your brand out in front of a massive audience in this category of publishers will go a long way in building awareness, and have a tremendous impact on the success of your launch.

Additional key factors to consider before UK expansion include basic competitive and network research. E.g. does this network have the publishers you’re looking for? Are they in your budget? Will they provide the appropriate amount of support during and after launch?

These are the kind of questions that need to be measured when choosing the right network for your merchant. It is also important to explore the advantages of a UK based bank account, and of a UK based fulfillment (lower Value Added Tax charges and speedier delivery to consumers), as well as setting up a UK version of your website to include UK commerce in British Pounds.

It is imperative that a US merchant be aware of the subtleties in UK terminology, grammar, and spelling in communications with publishers and consumer facing materials site wide. Not to mention the vastly different corporate cultures. Taking these factors and added costs will help paint a clear picture of what your total investment will look like.

With such challenges, you might be wondering if expansion is the best option for your merchant. Preparing merchants to expect slow but steady growth when making the leap into the UK is critical, in order to understand the market and its future potential.

Do all the associated costs outweigh potential growth? With careful planning and execution it is likely you will yield positive results.

Jamie is an affiliate manager for JEBCommerce, 2012 Rakuten LinkShare Affiliate Agency of the Year.

This article appeared in isse 22 of FeedFront Magazine, which was published in April 2013. Read issue 22 of FeedFront Magazine.

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