Surfmyads.com, established in 2006, owns and operate several coupon sites and is primarily known for its leading coupon-code site, Promocodes.com.
As a result of their recent global expansion, their UK voucher site, Codes.co.uk has been on the rise as a go-to voucher site in the UK. The company also runs Coupons.ca for the Canadian Market as well as Discountcode.com for the Australian market. Surfmyads.com works with thousands of retailers primarily through affiliate networks to offer their coupons to their sites’ visitors.
We recently had a chance to connect with Founder & CEO of Surfmyads.com, Aydin Karadeniz, to get his take on their recent global expansion and what they are seeing in these new international markets, as well as in affiliate marketing trends in general.
CJ: What spurred your recent global expansion efforts?
AK: Well, I’m an immigrant to the United States, originally from Turkey, so I’ve always a had major interest in running a global company. At Surfmyads.com we continually study different countries and analyze the market potential. We currently have an office in Istanbul with a team of 12 people working in our Coupon Optimization department. We also have a full-time account manager in London, UK who manages Codes.co.uk partnerships, and soon we will be launching our UK office. Moreover, our Content department works with freelancers from all over the world. So, it’s fair to say that there is already a culture in place which enables us to work and engage with skillful team members around the globe. I strongly believe that operating under a global culture enriches our employees and allows us to progress faster as a business.
CJ: To what new markets are you expanding and why?
AK: We are in the coupon business as a result of the opportunities that have emerged from affiliate marketing. So, when we study various countries, we analyze online shopping behaviors as well as coupon usage trends of that market. We try to analyze how much investment we need to make in order to educate users about using coupon codes. In fact, we do some small tests in those markets before even launching our international websites in order to access specific metrics such as conversion rates of different devices, marketing expenses, etc.
Additionally, we try to work with affiliate networks closely to see if we can get sufficient support from them when we get into those markets. In fact, for the first time anywhere, we are excited to announce that we are soon launching our French site, Codepromo.fr where we will be offering promo codes from retailers located in France. We are very excited about that! In addition, we are going to be launching Codes.de for the German market and our Canadian site, Coupons.ca, will be undergoing a big design update.
CJ: Congratulations! That’s very exciting news. Can you tell us about the consumer demographics/shopping behaviors in these new markets?
AK: Using coupons and promo codes during online shopping is a very common practice here in the US, and there are a ton of coupon sites and daily deal sites. US consumers are definitely very savvy with online shopping. When it comes to the European market, they are not as used to using coupon codes compared to the US market, however, that is slowly changing. As an example, about 5 years ago our coupon-traffic on our UK site, Codes.co.uk, was fairly low. Now, UK visitors are actively searching for vouchers and discount codes before they check-out online. As a coupon site, we want to be in those emerging countries so we can educate users about how to be a savvy shopper.
CJ: What are some strategies/best practices for advertisers to succeed in those new markets?
AK: When you get into a new market, it is important to collect and analyze as much information as possible, and for advertisers, agencies, and networks to work together and share their learnings. At the end of the day, if an affiliate marketing space grows in those regions, we will all benefit from it and all grow. I think the affiliate networks play the most important role, as they have more resources available. It’s crucial that networks support our business by bringing global advertisers into the space and inviting global advertisers to their annual conferences so we can all meet and brainstorm what we can do in those markets.
Advertisers need to offer landing pages in local languages, as well as support local currencies. In addition, their landing pages should be highly optimized for a mobile experience. As a publisher, no matter how optimized our landing pages are, if the advertiser’s own landing pages are not mobile friendly, then we experience lower conversion rates.
Advertisers should also offer coupons and promo codes so publishers can also invest in those markets by having those value-added offers. The advertisers should work closely with their publishers to brainstorm what type of initial coupons we should have. As a publisher, we have a lot of experience working with advertisers in the same vertical, so we may already have various data points that can be helpful to the advertiser who is going into that market for the first time. It’s all about collaboration and sharing information.
We want to be partners towards the client’s success. First and foremost, we want to understand what the clients’ business needs are so we can then create the right strategy that is aligned with their goals, and focus on generating additional revenue for clients.
CJ: What other affiliate channel trends are you seeing?
AK: As we all know, influencer marketing is so hot these days, and it’s important for the networks and agencies to invest in this distribution model. We are also seeing new tracking trends such as first-click versus last-click or sharing commission between various publishers, etc. While these are all innovative solutions, we feel that the industry should come up with some common practices, because the varying from one network to another tends to create confusion in the market.
Another affiliate trend we’re keeping an eye on is mobile marketing, as more and more consumers are shopping using their mobile devices. As we mentioned previously, it is important for advertisers to realize this and optimize for this experience.
CJ: Do you have any affiliate success stories? What made it a success?
AK: It can be difficult to run global websites with resources only available in Los Angeles (we were formally located in Santa Barbara). If you want to make a difference and progress faster, you should invest in resources in regions where you would like to expand. For example, we tried to run our UK site, Codes.co.uk, from our office here in Los Angeles. However, it always felt like things were not moving forward fast enough. That could’ve been attributed to various factors such as the time difference and cultural differences. To solve for this we decided to hire an account manager from London, UK. We brought the new staff member to our US office for an in-depth training to create a system in terms of how to work together efficiently. In just a short time, we were able to progress quicker just by having a local presence and a local employee who could work with advertisers more closely. I am pleased to see that we have already managed to build close partnerships that could have taken longer if we continued with the efforts of the US office alone.
CJ: What are some new and innovative ways that you are approaching your affiliate program?
AK: Affiliate marketing is growing and more investments are coming into this space. It is becoming more and more important to create value in this competitive space. This is valid for not only Publishers but also agencies and networks as well. If you want to survive in this space, you should be investing a lot into your product development department and continue to build tools and applications that create value. In our case, it is important that we continuously improve the user experience on our website as well find additional ways of creating value for our advertisers. I’m happy to say that we have some exciting projects in the pipeline.
CJ: Where do you see the future of affiliate headed?
AK: More marketing agencies are starting to bring their clients into the space. There used to be agencies which specialized only in affiliate marketing, but these days we see bigger and broader marketing agencies introducing affiliate to their clients. I think they have more to learn about how to run successful affiliate marketing strategies. That said, they have access to bigger investments, so the networks and publishers should support their entry into the channel and make sure that the big agencies will perform well. That will create opportunities for bigger advertisers coming into this space. The key players such as the networks, agencies, and publishers should invest more in PR to highlight the value of the affiliate channel. If we all get together and create visibility around the true value of this space, then we will all gain more opportunities.