As more and more brands decide to “go global” with their affiliate marketing programs, the search is on for powerful and compelling ways to reach and persuade consumers in new markets.

Extending a brand internationally tends to be expensive and resource-intensive; brand teams need to define the most effective and efficient tools for growing awareness, driving trial, and stimulating customer loyalty. Differences in culture, media habits, distribution systems, and a host of other dimensions make it difficult to identify a set of tools or tactics that will work in every market. In fact, most sales and marketing leaders agree that there are very few cookie-cutter go-to-market programs that will work in all countries.

In affiliate marketing in particular, commission approaches and rates, for example, must be varied considerably as you expand to new markets.

TV advertising is gradually losing effectiveness in most regions and has very limited power in other places. Print can be efficacious in some markets like India but is far less effective in many developed economies with robust internet cultures. Online ads and email must battle consumer fatigue and disinterest, in addition to growing regulation in a variety of markets.

Yet, across the globe, partnership is proving itself to be an extremely powerful and cost-effective strategy. Originally dominated by affiliate networks, now partner management is increasingly guided by powerful, real-time software. In a recent survey of 1,200 brand leaders from around the globe, 55% report that partnerships now drive more than 20% of total brand sales, and 24% report that partnerships are driving more than 30% of sales.

Net, partnerships should be a part of any brand’s international expansion plans. But e-commerce companies have to do partnership right, right from the start. There are a number of best practices that help drive faster revenues and better overall results for partnership – whatever the region(s) in which you compete. If you are looking for ways to drive faster and stronger brand sales as part of international expansion, here are ten best practices that should inform your efforts.

As more and more brands decide to “go global,” the search is on for powerful and compelling ways to reach and persuade consumers in new markets. Extending a brand affiliate marketer program internationally tends to be expensive and resource-intensive; brand teams need to define the most effective and efficient tools for growing awareness, driving trial, and stimulating customer loyalty.

Differences in culture, media habits, distribution systems and a host of other dimensions make it difficult to identify a set of tools or tactics that will work in every market. In fact, most sales and marketing leaders agree that there are very few cookie-cutter go-to-market programs that will work in all countries.

TV advertising is gradually losing effectiveness in most regions and has very limited power in other places. Print can be efficacious in some markets like India but is far less effective in many developed economies with robust internet cultures. Online ads and email must battle consumer fatigue and disinterest, in addition to growing regulation in a variety of markets.

Yet, across the globe, partnership is proving itself to be an extremely powerful and cost-effective strategy. In a recent survey of 1,200 brand leaders from around the globe, 55% report that partnerships now drive more than 20% of total brand sales, and 24% report that partnerships are driving more than 30% of sales.

Net, partnerships should be a part of any brand’s international expansion plans. But you have to do partnership right, right from the start. There are a number of best practices that help drive faster revenues and better overall results for partnership – whatever the region(s) in which you compete. If you are looking for ways to drive faster and stronger brand sales as part of international expansion, here are ten best practices that should inform your efforts.

1. Define the role that partnerships will play in each international market.

Every sales and marketing initiative should begin with a clear purpose so that you can define the right tactics to deploy. Identifying a purpose for your partner efforts helps lead you to the right partners, offers, and other components essential for an effective program.

2. Identify partner marketing expert(s) for the key regions in your expansion plan.

Having access to someone “local” who fully understands the dynamics of partnerships in their part of the world helps you avoid any pitfalls that can hamper your efforts. They may also have pre-existing relationships with partners and experience with your partner marketing platform, which means you can get efforts in place more quickly.

3. Analyze the online partner landscape in each region, including major affiliate players, vertical or category leaders, key influencers, and potential consumer brand partners.

While having an expert on your team can help reduce the need for this step, it is nevertheless important for all decision-makers to understand how the partnership landscape may be different in each region. Local expertise can also be invaluable if you decide to pursue content partners like traditional media companies, bloggers, and other influencers.

4. Conduct a comprehensive competitive analysis of partner marketing efforts fielded by your competitors.

By analyzing the scale, offers, and other tactics used by your competitors, you define important benchmarks that can be critical to setting appealing offers for your programs. These data points offer great fodder for setting plans for promoting your goods and services. Pay attention also to program specifics like payment terms

5. Define a multifaceted online partner acquisition strategy outlining the types of partners you will seek and in what priority order.

Partner acquisition should be guided by a strategy that prioritizes the partners that can best deliver on the purpose and goals of your program. The ones that can deliver the money you need to meet or exceed your goals. In turn, you must ensure they earn fair affiliate commissions for the business they send you.

6. Choose a partner marketing automation platform that can serve your needs in ALL regions.

Getting marketing programs management and payments right, from the outset, can help you be more successful more quickly. Having a single technology provider for all regions simplifies management and resource needs.

7. Field your first partner programs with a select set of large affiliates to drive initial volume and program learnings. Solicit feedback from these top partners on how you can improve program effectiveness.

It is generally prudent to start a new program -- whether through an affiliate network or though a software-based platform --with a finite number of key affiliate partners, so that you can maximize learning while you minimize executional tasks and needs.

8. Rapidly expand your paying affiliate programs to more network affiliates and start forming your “nontraditional partnerships.

This is a great, staged approach for maximize revenue quickly. Once they've defined a winning formula for key campaigns and partners, companies can quickly expand to additional partners, secure in the knowledge that you have great odds for success.

9. Analyze affiliate link performance data and monitor changes to competitor programs to determine if you need to adjust your offers. Rapidly optimize for improved results. Success in partnerships is about continuous proactive optimization -- of program terms, audience, offers, and commissions. This is not an industry where a brand is well served by a set-it-and-forget-it approach.

That's another reason why so many brands are moving away from network models to SaaS affiliate platform software and brand control.

10. Integrate partner marketing performance data into your overall international sales and attribution measurement to ensure the channel gets the credit it warrants.

To ensure partnership takes its rightful place in that holistic view, you need to ensure that partner performance is incorporated into your company’s attribution methodologies. This is true regardless of which types of partners you enlist -- search engine optimizers, influencer/social media influencer, referral programs, niche content developers, or classic affiliate publishers like coupons and cashback.