With multiple tracking platforms and a site with 26 languages, the Light in Box global expansion provides an incredible case study for global success with an affiliate program.
Brooke Schaaf, co-founder of Schaaf Partner Centric) and Max Ciccotosto, head of global growth at TheLightintheBox.com) worked closely together for a global affiliate campaign that spanned 25 countries and included 70+ programs in just 12 months. Brooke and Max detail their key learning points, success and takeaways from this aggressive and successful pursuit.
Below are 10 key points from this Affiliate Management Days session.
#1 Use Local Networks
Each country has their own industry events, cultural differences and many times language. It is essential to partner with a network that not only understands the strengths and weaknesses of the locale but can maximize the potential of each regional.
For instance, certain rules and regulations provide an advantage if the local office has a local bank. In these cases, publishers are rewarded tax benefits for participating with a local business. Publishers can save up to 25% more due to taxes. A publisher weighs this advantage, or disadvantage if there is no local office, when entering into an affiliate agreement.
“Always pick the guys with the local office and in business with the local office of the country for at least a year.” Explains Max Ciccotosto, Light In The Box.
#2 One Set of policies
It is essential to maintain and enforce the same affiliate policy across all creative. All commissions, terms and conditions, creatives and other rules should be consistent for proper compliance management.
#3 Dedupe and Attribution
When working with multiple channels, dedupe technology and procedures are essential for cost containment. An international affiliate program needs a strong technology platform to ensure de-duplication l is accurate. In Europe there was more cross affiliate promotions. So you need to be aware of this when you are launching in Europe. In the case of Light In The Box, Impact Radius provided this service for attribution and deduping.
Attribution also plays a key role. Attribution allows you to see multiple touch points between different affiliates and channels. Brook explain the importance of not only collecting this data but having the expertise to modify and grow the program according to key metrics.
# 4 Publisher Taxonomies
As the program expands across international borders, the variety of affiliates expands. Each country has its own strengths. For instance in France, email affiliates are dominate. Other countries like Italy and Brazil excel with ‘site unders.’ In Europe, shop comparison engines reign among the affiliates. The program needs to maximize each country’s strength. To maximize Light In The Box and Schaaf-Partners Centric, approached with an open mind and a “how can we make this work” approach versus shutting down based on previous perceptions.
#5 Not All Deals Are CPA
Light in the Box and and Schaaf-Partners Centric wants not to be constrained by the CPA (cost for per acquisitions) model. This open approach allows for more creativity to take full advantage of the affiliates
#6 Sneaky Fraud
If you have a large affiliate program, the rouge affiliates will target your program. There are also more opportunities for fraud just due to the larger scale. With a global program, tools such as Brandverity are crucial to provide the checks and balance required to prevent fraud.
#7 Local Markets
As your program expands local market management becomes unwieldy. This is not just for the affiliate channel but across all channels. For instance, uploading creatives and links to 20 networks consumes large amounts of time.
In addition, there are 25 different calendars. How does the managerhandle all the holidays and timeframes across the country?
Light in the Box implemented a solid teiring system to manage all promotions across all channels and countries
Tier 1 promotions are top performing holidays. Typically the largest promotions are holiday agnostic so they can scale it global. These are the biggest sales and have the largest budget.
Tier 2 promotions may not launch at the same time but can scale to multiple cultures. For instance, there are multiple Father’s Days around the world but the concept and promotion can remain the same with different launch dates.
Smaller holidays fall into Tier 3 and usually cannot be launched due to lack of scalability. Top affiliates work with several hundred merchants. Affiliates can’t keep up with all the small promotions. Accordingly, these smaller promotions will not give you the return on investment for the time required to scale.
#8 Must Have: Intelligence and Productivity Tools
Light in the Box uses a tool called MediaRails that allows the company to track all networks in one place. This software allows Light In the Box to pull publishers from all networks versus trying to manage the affiliates in individual networks.
# 9 Someone In Your Corner
The marketplace experiences rapid change. Ultimately, an international program needs the human touch as well as powerful software. Agency contacts and company employee’s provide accountability, perspective and strategy.
#10 Get Creative
Approach each opportunity presented with an open mind. Don’t limit your deals based on existing obstacles. Instead, look for ways to get around or destroy the barriers.