International marketing strategies can seem daunting to even the most seasoned of professionals. Once reserved for only the largest, most lucrative of businesses, the ability to sell to a global audience is now, thanks to the internet’s levelling powers, a real possibility for even the smallest brands. With literally no boundaries when it comes to selling online, it’s become more relevant than ever to move your business into an international marketplace.
But, how do you get started? Not quite as simple as translating a few posts and hitting send, setting up a solid marketing campaign for a worldwide audience requires a tailored fit. Here’s how to grow your business and reach those broader markets, the right way.
Know your market
Much like any other strategy, understanding your market is vital if you want to create a global campaign that truly works. Ask yourself these simple questions:
- Is there a market for your product or services in other countries?
- Which regions are your competitors targeting?
- What are the buying preferences of your chosen cultures?
Before you decide how to tackle an international market, it’s a good idea to do your research first. The first thing to remember is that you must have an understanding of where you will be working. Every country, city and region has its own customs – from using specific social media profiles to what messages work best, and what is culturally appropriate for their particular audience.
You need to undertake cultural research to ensure your business fully understands your specific target market – how they like to view content, what campaign types are the most successful and how best to reach your online audience. Recognising and understanding the characteristics and needs of your market will go a considerable way towards helping you to connect with potential customers.
Make sure your global marketing isn’t lost in translation
Once you’ve established who it is you’re selling to and have gained some insightful regional knowledge, it’s time to create a solid marketing plan. While it’s essential to develop a standardised marketing programme that projects the same message and ethics, it doesn’t mean that your text and images themselves should be standardised. For example, a tagline that works in one country may not work in another, while success from a specific form of promotion in one language won’t have the same results in another country.
Transcreation and localisation are key
With international marketing, the main thing businesses need to be wary of is staying sensitive to cultural differences while still being able to retain the key campaign message. Essentially, when it comes to creating a digital marketing strategy for a global marketplace, it’s all about making sure you can personalise the content for the specific language and location, without losing your overall message.
So, rather than simply translating text word for word, businesses need to be conscious of the differences between countries, specifically the common words they use, how they perceive certain actions, colours and words.
Intrawelt, a leading translation and language services agency, propose that, instead of simply translation word-for-word, businesses look to rewrite the original content using local idioms, colloquialisms and expressions along with standard local sentence structure in order to best reach the desired audience. By hiring a dedicated, professional translation agency, businesses can be certain that they’re not going to alienate any target audiences.
It’s all about putting content into a cultural context – building a relationship with a specific audience with content that is familiar to them while ensuring the marketing message, and its intent, style, tone and context, remain cohesive.
Adapt designs to suit a local audience
It’s not just content where businesses tend to slip up in their international strategies. Instead, design can have a huge impact on how successful a campaign is, and how your business grows. For example, understanding the symbolism of colours across a range of cultures can go a long way toward helping you to achieve your marketing goals.
In most Western cultures, white is seen to represent purity, peace and elegance, while in certain Asian and Eastern countries, white can represent death and mourning. Similarly, where most Western nations see red as a symbol of passion and excitement, in the Middle East, it is often considered the colour of evil. It’s simple to see how making a simple design decision can actually have a huge impact on the way in certain cultures view your campaign.
Don’t forget about SEO
Improving search rankings and conversion rates for an international market is no easy feat. For businesses looking to truly find success in a global marketplace, understanding the SEO techniques needed for local search engine visibility is crucial.
Just because you’ve dominated the market in your home country for a specific set of keywords, doesn’t mean it will work in others. Understanding how your customers are searching in each market you’re hoping to branch out to will make a huge difference to your main keywords.
For example, where UK citizens will search for an ‘aubergine’, an American searcher is much more likely to search for an ‘eggplant’ – both are valid terms but being aware of these linguistic differences is essential for successful keyword research. Ignoring these idioms and common phrases will mean you may miss an opportunity to connect with the right customer.