This week, we took a seat with director of business development at Digistore24, Alex Gunoe, to see what information he can give us about scaling a business internationally using affiliate marketing. We’ve been talking a lot about successful affiliate marketing lately, especially with our incredible deep-dive into affiliate managers last week.
For some background, Alex might be a little more relatable than you think. He got into this industry on his own personal business path. In short, he started out as the owner of a small gym and then worked his way into using direct response to promote and scale his own business, taking it from only in-person to e-commerce. Now, he works at Digistore24 and uses his personal experience gained from growing his business to a platform that can help any business owner reach the level of success he did.
Understand the intentions of an affiliate in terms of sales.
One of the biggest mistakes a lot of entrepreneurs think of when it comes down to an affiliate marketing strategy is thinking that an affiliate will only accept the highest EPC or PPC. On the surface, that does make a lot of sense. Why would anyone try to promote an item that gives them $4 earning per click when they could get $9?
Fortunately, it doesn’t really work that way. Higher commission is great, but what matters more is how an offer (e.g., coupon, ebook, tutorial, webinar) converts. The less an affiliate manager has to do to keep an offer going, the more likely they’re going to leave it alone and turn their attention elsewhere because it’s effortless money in the bank. And an offer with high-quality content will make that happen.
So for affiliate program beginners, don’t worry about pricing your EPC at the top to gain traction. Focus on making a reliable offer that will stand the test of time and building relationships with affiliates. And there are a lot of different types of affiliate sites out there specializing in different marketing channels with diverse commission rates. Digistore24 is a great one to check out, and you can also take a peek at Clickbank or Amazon Affiliates. Affiliate sales and referrals are driving businesses forward. It’s time you hop on that bandwagon.
How does a global affiliate network get a vendor to the next level?
For businesses like Digistore24, we were wondering if they and platforms like them prefer working with startups or tenured merchants—which was easier to bring into affiliate marketing.
Up front, Alex’s response was enlightening. He told us that because the world of e-commerce is growing increasingly crowded, venders of any age or industry see the need to get into the eyes of different target audiences. Direct response and affiliate marketing are two of the best solutions to that concern.
When starting with Digistore24, a client gets passed off to a growth manager who can help them gain the know-how for what it takes to create a killer offer and build the right connections. These are the two pillars for 10x sales and growth for any business model.
Honesty is also a much better tactic when talking to affiliates. Not everyone needs to be on the marketplace, some businesses only really need the education-side of things and the right connections with people who can get them into new markets. The marketplace is full of competition, and if your best offer isn’t really one that will stay on top for the long-term, then it might not be worth it. Instead, clients that fall into this category can benefit from staying off the marketplace and putting their efforts into growth management.
A personalized approach to business growth is the best approach.
We asked Alex about how Digistore24 pairs clients with affiliates: does email marketing match with email, or do they try to create more of a blend with content marketing, bloggers, influencers, etc.? Instead of approaching it in this binary sense, his company goes about this in a much more personalized manner. And that makes sense since all businesses have diverse needs.
For example, if a small business (or you) have a really amazing, aggressive email offer that is just incredible but it isn’t Facebook-compliant, they (or you) will be matched with email list owners. There’s no sense in creating a partnership between two people who can’t help each other.
However, that isn’t the end of the journey. That’s how a business owner can continue scaling their business with their current marketing platform. But they should still be able to expand, and that’s where a global affiliate marketing program can take them. After getting email in order, the next step is to convert that offer into something that does work on social media and going from there.
Keep in mind that it’s not so cut and dry. There are a lot of sacrifices and adjustments to make. Let’s say, for example, that you get introduced to someone who wants to take your daily sales volume from 50 to 300. That sounds great, but they ask for exclusivity. Are you willing to cut reposition your previous relationships to use this new one? In most cases, these are the actions you’ll have to take in order to reach that next level of growth you crave.
Just because you build it, doesn’t mean customers will come.
The same is true for affiliates. A lot of business owners think that because they put in the effort to create their business and set things up, they can simply enter the affiliate marketing space and suddenly get tons of new affiliates or new customers or new audiences or sales. That’s not how it works; you can’t drive traffic with no effort.
Don’t do this. Instead, you 100% need to invest in a good affiliate manager. This person’s sole purpose is to build relationships, nurture them, and get your business up 10x. You have to be willing to invest in this person.
A lot of small online businesses and startups claim they don’t have to resources to pay for an affiliate list manager. And that’s true a lot of the time, we aren’t knocking it. But there are ways around it. You can structure the role to be more commission-based, this way you only pay when they make you money. And good affiliate managers will want commission, anyway. They can make way more on affiliate commission than with a fixed salary.
Prepare your offer for international markets verbally and culturally.
International markets are a gold mine, especially with digital goods. Physical goods are still possible, and platforms like Digistore24 are well on their way to preparing you for physical fulfillment. But there’s a trick to entering. You need to make sure your offers translate well in whatever new market you choose verbally and culturally.
Let’s start with the verbal part of your offer. And we can even make the scenario easier: an American offer being used in the UK. It’s the same language so it should be easy, right? No. British English is very different from American English. They way words are spelled, phrases used, humor, cultural relevance—it’s all different. You need to be aware of the language used and literally translate your offer to match the new market. When there are grammatical errors in an offer or advertisement, it removes the authenticity of your company. People will immediately feel like they’re being scammed, leave your store, and never come back.
Second, you need to focus on culture. Offers need to be translated culturally, too. Some things simply won’t land, others might be offensive. Again, using an American offer in the UK. The new market isn’t going to care about FDA-approved supplements. They want to know if it has the CE mark. Be culturally aware of where you’re selling, otherwise you’re throwing away resources.
One simple way to make sure your offers are up-to-par in Europe or wherever you’re selling, you can hire someone local to review it. The best solution is the really hire someone permanently in that market to help you go over your offers, but not every company has the resources for that. If that’s the case, you can use freelance platforms to find someone local and pay them a nominal fee to glance over your material. They’ll quickly be able to tell you about spelling errors, irrelevant content, and what resonates with them.
Having a local bank account helps conversions.
When you’re expanding internationally, you will see significantly higher conversions when you have a local bank account. That’s because the bank account will be accepting the local currency, no currency converting necessary. That international transaction is now a domestic transaction, and that will help you scale.
In order to open one of these bank accounts you’ll need to incorporate which can be quite expensive. There are other ways to get a merchant account in another country without incorporating, and DirectPayNet can help you.
We are a merchant services provider that will connect you with payment processors that allow you to process foreign currency as if its domestic, without any hits to your conversion rate.
Affiliate marketing and digital goods are high-risk industries that require a specific type of merchant account: a high-risk merchant account. In order for your to expand 10x, you need to open this type of merchant account that will connect you with payment processors that allow you to process credit card, debit card, bank transfer, digital wallet, and even crypto payments with minimal risk.
And don’t forget to check out Digistore24 to see how affiliate marketing works first-hand.