The 10 Core Principles of Managing a Global Affiliate Programme

3 Mar, 2020
Written by Jason Codrington, Account Director, Global Accounts at CJ Affiliate

Global expansion remains one of the most popular strategies for driving growth within the affiliate channel.

During my nine years in the industry, and current position as account director, global accounts at CJ Affiliate, I’ve helped lots of programmes launch and evolve in multiple territories.

I’ve seen retailers thrive in markets they knew would take to their products and services. The common themes for success are research, due diligence and a passion for learning about the nuances that define each market.

But I’ve also witnessed brands completely disregard the fundamentals of global expansion, rushing in, then rushing back out again. Such mistakes are frustratingly common, yet quite simple to avoid.

So, to help you and your brand avoid obvious mistakes, here are ten key principles to remember when managing a global affiliate programme.

Looking to expand your affiliate marketing internationally, to two or more markets? Download our whitepaper study, Mastering the Art of Global Affiliate Expansion.

Download the study


1) Segment your approach

Brand recognition tends to vary across different markets. Due to this, you should look to produce a strategy that aligns with your wider business objectives in the country you’re targeting.

Affiliate marketing is highly versatile; you can use it to grow market share, raise awareness, increase profits, capture new customers, or something completely different. That’s why it pays to create a tailored strategy for each region.

To make things a bit easier, I’d advise separating your markets into top-tier, mid-tier and lower-tier categories, according to their development. That way, you can apply tactics that align with strategic goals for ROI, earnings, and profitability.

2) Do your research 

Each market has its differences with regards to culture, language, consumer behaviour and publishers. Case in point: while most e-commerce payments are made via credit or debit card, 62% of those in the Middle East and North Africa are conducted via cash on delivery. This represents a major consideration for sellers in high-growth areas like Egypt and Saudi Arabia. 

To understand the market is to understand what makes it tick. You should have a clear vision of the average customer, your competition, publishers, advertising laws and logistical arrangements before launching. 

3) Hire a team with local market knowledge

If you assign a Spanish-speaking affiliate manager to a programme in the Iberia region, they might have difficulty growing something in Portugal with no knowledge of the market or language. Hiring a local expert to monitor your activity is always advised.

4) Meet with publishers for each region

Local affiliate managers should be meeting face to face with their publishers at least once a month. While modern technology allows us to communicate across borders with relative ease, nothing beats an in-person meeting for getting things done.

Affiliate days, workshops and quarterly planning sessions are also good for keeping everyone engaged and in the loop.

5) Maintain consistency across territories

Even if you’re smaller in one country than you are in another, the way your programme is set up - from your reporting to how publishers are managed - needs to be aligned across borders.

As a tip, I find that building shared marketing calendars through tools like Microsoft Teams, Asana, Trello, Slack and Monday can help with unifying account management and execution.

6) Streamline client communication

If you’re an affiliate manager, one of the best ways of staying connected to your client is to mirror their communication structure. 

Those with separate contacts for each market should follow a ‘lead’ set up, where one person is responsible for bringing messages from local affiliate managers, to the client. This approach is also transferable to the publisher side.

7) Utilise cross-market promotions

Enjoy powerful economies of scale by running a series of multi-market campaigns. This entails using your position in a core territory to book exposure in places where you are less well-known. You can then start to build your presence through a consistent message.

8) Organise regular meetings between country managers

A thriving programme should make time for weekly calls between teams that focus on cross-market learning, new strategies and opportunities. Don’t forget that when setting up calls, you’ll need to account for time zone differences, costs and any language barriers.

Your aim is to generate a two-way flow of ideas, rather than being 100% led by a single party.

9) Work closely with your publisher development team

A good way of maintaining success with publishers is to engage the people that helped you find them.

Publisher development experts can help you source the next batch of high-performing affiliates while identifying the opportunities that power your future growth.

10) Don’t assume each market has the same key periods

Last but not least, while events like Christmas, New Year and Black Friday tend to have a global impact on sales, each market is subject to peaks and troughs throughout the year.

A cross-market planner will keep you abreast of all the key dates happening around your various divisions. You can then take advantage by preparing offers and copy for each one.

Looking to expand your affiliate marketing internationally, to two or more markets? Download our whitepaper study, Mastering the Art of Global Affiliate Expansion.


Download the study