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Going global: Key considerations for building an international marketing strategy

Going global: Key considerations for building an international marketing strategy

Picture104122024 - Business ExpressBy Sam Martin-Ross is UK Managing Director of digital marketing agency, Eskimoz.

An estimated 75% of online users speak a language other than English. Tapping into these international markets by connecting with audiences in their native language offers brands a unique opportunity to build global trust and consideration.

With the majority of people worldwide connected to the Internet, brands are freed from many geographical constraints when venturing into international markets. However, making the most of global markets requires the right planning and approach if it’s to be truly successful.

Research your markets

Entering foreign markets, particularly those where a language barrier is present, requires robust market research.

Successful marketing needs to build a connection with your audience, and this is only possible if you’ve taken the time to understand consumer behaviour and preference in your target country.

Familiarising yourself with the culture and conventions of your target market is crucial. This of course includes language, but also goes much deeper. Perhaps there are particular cultural events or holidays that present opportunities to connect with your audience. On the technical side, your marketing strategy must also take into account laws and regulations in your target market, for example, GDPR in the EU, and even more fundamental factors such as differing time zones.

Tailor your message

Effective marketing on a global level means adapting your content and messaging to the needs, conventions and expectations of each market.

For other English-speaking markets, this might on a basic level require adapting terminology and spelling to meet the conventions of those countries. For non-English-speaking markets, this becomes more complex. Often, simple translation is not enough. You’ll need to adapt every post, graphic and piece of content to convey your brand message without a loss of meaning. So much of effective marketing relies on evoking a level of emotion through messaging, and very often, a native-level knowledge of your target language is required to successfully accomplish this. Compounding this are considerations about the communication style of your target country. In countries such as Germany or Switzerland, consumers are used to a more direct form of communication, while markets such as France or Italy take a more indirect approach.

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The challenge here is that while foreign markets will need you to tailor your messaging, this consideration must also be balanced with building a consistent brand identity worldwide. Take marketing powerhouse, McDonalds, whose Golden Arches are instantly recognisable across the world, yet who adapts its offerings for each individual market.

Adapt your campaigns

It is not only the content and creatives of your campaigns that must be adapted for international markets, but also the platforms and channels you use to connect with your audiences.

In European and English-speaking countries where Google has enjoyed dominance over the search engine market, it’s easy to think this must hold true worldwide. However, there are multiple countries where the preference is for their own native search engines, such as Baidu in China, Yandex in Russia, Yahoo in Japan and CocCoc in Vietnam, where these search engines can better support native alphabets and preferences. Taking a Google-centric approach in any of these countries is excluding your brand from a huge percentage of your potential audience.

Similarly, the preferred communication channels differ between countries. In Spain, for example, audiences are perfectly comfortable communicating with brands through WhatsApp, while this would be regarded as more usual in countries such as the UK. As with any marketing campaign, it’s important to meet your audience where they are, and this will differ in international markets.

Benefits of internal marketing

While marketing effectively across multiple countries can be a challenge, it also offers powerful benefits in both expanded reach and brand awareness. A robust marketing strategy tailored towards a particular foreign market allows you to establish your brand and build consumer trust in a way that would otherwise not be possible.

Similarly, successful execution of an international strategy comes with enhanced brand prestige, helping you increase appeal in additional international markets, and even domestic ones. This appeal and prestige can be invaluable for attracting a wide customer base, while allowing your business to diversify and capitalise on opportunities within foreign markets.

Breaking into international markets does of course require an initial investment, especially in regard to market research, but the experience and insights gained from analysis of consumer behaviour, effective marketing channels and market trends makes it far easier for your brand to propel itself into additional markets, further expanding your reach.

Final thoughts

A good international marketing strategy requires far more than simply lifting your existing marketing and dropping it into your new target market. Taking the time to understand your international audience is key, as is ensuring your messaging works across multiple languages. Get these things right, and you have the groundwork in place to effectively reach audiences across the world.

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