With globalisation becoming increasingly common for brands, considering the challenges involved is key for successful expansion into any new market. Marketing Managers should ensure that they are fully prepared before introducing their offering to new territories without underestimating how all-encompassing this can become. A tried and tested method of marketing or operating in one territory may not always transfer well to another; which is why understanding markets specificities is essential to adapt your strategy across borders.

Here are some of the 8 most common mistakes when managing international campaigns and how to avoid them…

Lack of research

Many businesses under expansion may overlook educating themselves on a territory’s culture, assuming that their local customs and approaches could apply in any territory. Marketing is all about building relationships and effective communication, which is why any brand looking to launch in a new market should ensure they conduct extensive research on that market’s cultural nuances, customs and communication approaches. In addition, the specific laws and regulations should always be taken into account when entering new markets to ensure legal compliance.

Overlooking the competition

It is important to gain knowledge about competitors in your chosen destination. Whilst competition may threaten your success in a new region, it can also be an opportunity to learn from their experience by finding out what has and hasn’t worked for them. What marketing campaigns have been a success for them? What is the pricing of their products or services? What is their brand messaging? What is their commission structure? And above all, how do you position yourself against the current competition? Brands may have to reposition and rebrand in order to enter a new geographical market so that they can compete in that arena.

Not choosing the right service providers

Finding the best service providers in your new region(s), should be a top priority.  No one network, or SaaS platform, is a global leader in every market; so, it is important to select the most suitable provider for each region. When sourcing providers, you should identify the right affiliate network or SaaS platform who would work in combination with a strong in-house or agency team, with local expertise in your key markets. Indeed, instead of working with multiple agencies for different markets, it can be far simpler to employ one international agency that works independently with a range of partners across your brands target markets. The in-house or agency affiliate team should be able to provide time zone adaptability, language support and local expertise for your chosen markets.

Use substandard translation

Many marketing teams rely on substandard programmes and systems in order to translate their content, from marketing materials through to email correspondence. In some cases, international affiliate programmes may be run only in English across markets.  It is vital to have a team who are able to provide local language support and human translation, ensuring that translations are correct and that the messaging is well perceived and understood. All issued marketing materials need to be provided in the local language, using wording and phrases that are indigenous to the market. As for publisher communications, it is preferable to have programme managers who can communicate in the local language especially in countries where speaking fluent English is not the norm.

Focusing only on local affiliates

Brands engaging in affiliate campaigns may focus solely on market-specific affiliates whilst overlooking global publishers who can drive high volumes of traffic across a variety of markets. These affiliates, offer a substantial boost to brand awareness in new territories, which is often helpful in the early stages of expansion. To identify these global partnerships, you can utilise the support from your international agency or network who can manage the relationship or make personal introductions. In addition, always seek to find out from your local publishers whether they are also active in other markets, this can be an easy win to expand your reach across multiple markets through existing partnerships.

Setting unreachable expectations

Setting goals is important for any campaign, and those targets act as an indicator to measure success. Without enough knowledge of the new market(s), and how their performance may vary compared to existing markets, brands can often over evaluate success and expect quicker results than it is realistically possible. In addition, brands need to consider the level of brand awareness they have, from market to market in order to set realistic targets and goals. A campaign might actually have been very successful when held to its true potential, although this could still be a fraction of the success it has in more established markets.

Having a singular marketing approach

Affiliate marketing offers a great way to introduce a brand to a new geographical region, however, it should not be used on its own but be integrated as part of a wider marketing strategy. A combination of cross-channel marketing should be employed in order to boost exposure, build brand awareness and push marketing messages consistently to the audience. A cohesive strategy is the best approach to deliver your desired KPIs and reach your goals in the long term.

Being unprepared to invest

Established brands quickly forget how much resource is required to start afresh and enter a new market, they may assume that success can be easily replicated from market to market. In a new territory or a market where the brand still has low recognition, a budget should be invested to build brand awareness, which means that the campaigns may not be profitable from launch. Very often, brands are focused on delivering a positive ROI immediately through affiliate marketing, whilst actually, in the early stages of expansion, a budget should be invested to build brand awareness over time before expecting profit. Once brand recognition has been established, then, performance-based results and positive ROI can be expected and brands can then focus on growing this to its fullest potential.

Zeina Rizk

Zeina Rizk


Zeina, Account Manager at Acceleration Partners.