World Domination: Building Successful Global Affiliate Operations – By Rob Israch

by Jenae Reid on May 8, 2018


If you’re looking to amplify results, digital marketers are on the ready across the globe. Global affiliates are eager, they’re innovative, and the same commission you might pay a U.S.-based affiliate has greater value to someone in a country with lower income expectations. The sheer numbers can be staggering, and as anyone in the business will tell you, affiliate programs are a numbers game.

The challenge is that dealing in multiple countries could hamper affiliate operations. Language barriers, regulations, cross border payments, currencies, controls, and communication efforts add cost and complexity with every additional country. On the other hand, even small operations have been able to dive into international waters to accelerate their growth. Here’s how.

Putting Your Arms Around the World

Going through the effort of expanding your program into another country? Don’t stop there. Open it up to the entire world. It sounds counterintuitive, but operationally you need to achieve economies of scale. If you’re doing affiliate operations correctly, it should scale regardless of where your affiliates are. Given that, ensuring you have the utmost scalable operation is key to effective growth. Don’t try to hire a lot of staff to manage the program. If you look at how larger networks grow, they try to standardize and streamline as much of the affiliate operation as possible. Focus your attention on attracting and retaining top affiliates, differentiating your service, and growing your client base.

Solving the Communication Effort

To achieve scalability, look first to streamline communications with affiliates. That includes encouraging them to use white-labeled portals to track their performance and provide their contact and choose payment methods. A strong email-based notification stream is key to proactively letting them know when they’re going to be paid and of payment status issues. This dramatically cuts down on ad-hoc emails, tweets, and phone calls to your team. Bonus points for localizing these communication vehicles into various languages.

Preventing Fraud and Minimizing Risk

Some countries are lower risk than others to open your program up to. However, that shouldn’t necessarily exclude countries. The key is to operate above board as much as possible. Ensure proper vetting, for example, by checking prospective affiliates against government blacklists. Collect identifying information about their business entity. This is required by the IRS to meet FATCA requirements anyway, so you’re killing two birds. Proactively look for patterns that can predict fraud. And most critically, check these identification points before every payment, as their status might have been changed.

Promote Loyalty

48% of affiliates have dropped a network or program because of a payment issue. Retaining high-performing affiliates is just as important as attracting them. For global affiliates, who don’t get face-to-face attention, payments are the only affirmation they have of doing business with you. Payments are proof that the network works. And given how socially influential today’s affiliates are – including those in other countries – maintaining a positive experience both enhances and preserves your reputation.




Rob Israch is CMO at Tipalti and the former VP, Global Marketing Programs at NetSuite.

This article appeared in issue 42 of FeedFront Magazine, which was published in April 2018.

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