The Smartest Search believes in transparency and the sharing of ideas. With this in mind the blog section will offer insight to the industry as well as personal success stories and helpful tips. Feel Free to comment, re-post, re-tweet and learn from our experiences.
January 25, 2011
When an affiliate has success with a program it is natural they look for new avenues of traffic to increase profit. An easy way to get new traffic with your existing sources is to expand the geo-targeting of the campaign. If you’re already running the entire US then it makes sense to expand into Canada, UK and Australia (English speaking Countries.) This is logical in most cases but only really works half the time.

Just because potential user can understand your ads and view the websites promoted, doesn’t mean they can purchase from the merchant. Even more damaging to your bottom line, the network or merchant may restrict the countries you are allowed to promote in. This could result in accusations of fraud and damage your relationships with merchants and/or networks.

So let’s look at how to double check these variables so that we can avoid wasting media spend and possibly ruining a relationship in 3 simple steps:

1) Check the offers targeting restrictions: Pretty straight forward here. Most networks clearly display where each offer is allowed to be promoted. If there is any doubt contact your affiliate manager or the merchant directly.

2) Investigate the shipping capabilities of the merchant: This task can be a little more difficult to complete. However most of the time you can find a link on the merchant page that brings you to an F.A.Q. or a specific page about “shipping information” or something similar.

-Pay attention to price as well as availability. A smart customer will realize that the shipping cost will raise the cost of their item drastically in many cases and find somewhere else to purchase.

-Another hard to spot catch comes up with UK shipping. Look for “UK mainland delivery” and realize that this applies to a limited are of the UK. While it is a large portion, outlying areas are subject to additional shipping charges and can impact the decision to purchase.

-Other merchants just simply cannot or will not ship outside of their stated area. I have found numerous publishers spending money on ads for a website the end user can’t even order from. It seems logical now that we’re talking about it but can easily be overlooked.

*A while back we had a virtual assistant look at our top 100 merchants and investigate if they shipped internationally. Needless to say we were able to find some Great opertunities to expand highly profitable programs. YOU KNOW the program works, so pitch it to everyone you can!

3) Asses the new competition: As you expand into a new territory it is important that you take into account your new competitors. They may vary from the US players and have different strategies.
-Be aware that not every publisher takes as much care to ensure they are targeting an eligable area. Jsut because another publisher is running an ad in the UK doesn’t mean he went through all the steps above.
-If you did follow the above steps then spotting another publisher running an international ad is a great sign that you can have success in that region. If someone else is spending money on it, you are normally safe to assume they are making a profit.

Now that you’ve verified the rules and shipping to be applicable it’s time to expand that program. If possible you may want to use different accounts (if using adwords, adcenter, etc..) and create different campaigns so you can tweak both independently. Allowing you to keep the successful US campaign and monitor the UK stats for a better analysis. Along with this you should amend a different SUBID or SUBID format to distinguish the targeting.

Remember that just because a product is popular in America does not mean it will be over seas. Each region has unique tastes and buying habits. Keep an eye on the new expansion and treat it like a new campaign, with a little give due to the fact you know it to be successful elsewhere.

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