The global ecommerce opportunity is huge and it only looks set to grow further over the next decade. In fact, Statista projects that $4.6 trillion will be spent online by 2020.
Tapping into this opportunity requires much more than just content translation, however. A sophisticated blend of technology, people, and process is needed if brands truly want to engage with their audience on a global scale.
Creating a genuine and lasting connection with consumers is vital in any market, with 86% of customers stating that they would pay more for a product or service if they received better customer experience.
Brands are aware of this, but delivering on the promise of improved customer experience can be a complex undertaking. That complexity is multiplied when we incorporate the cultural, linguistic, and technological nuances that make every international market unique.
The picture is clear: getting global marketing right means investing in technology, people, and processes.
Below, we have rounded up some tips to help any brand take their offering to new international audiences.
Content created in collaboration with Building Blocks
Learn to localize
The key to any successful international marketing strategy is an understanding of consumers at the local level. From this insight, everything from content creation to audience targeting can be shaped with precision.
True localization begins with the elementary principle that using machine translations simply won’t cut it. It is imperative to engage native speakers, not only to translate with accuracy but also to adapt the content if needed.
Brands should use a flexible design within their CMS to build on this, as this will allow local market managers to maintain a consistent tone of voice while also injecting their local insights to ensure that the content resonates. This applies equally to the user experience, which may need to be tailored to suit local market preferences. For example, a site navigation that looks great in English may lose its aesthetic appeal when translated into German, due to the lengthier nature of nouns in the latter language.
As your strategy becomes more advanced, you will find it possible to automate and personalize global marketing communications by using an enterprise-level content management system. Partnering with the right technology can allow you to segment and communicate with granular audience lists in any international market.
Testing is a fundamental aspect of international digital marketing, too. Econsultancy reports that successful companies conduct an average of 6.45 A/B and multivariate tests per month. Global marketing can be unpredictable; a structured approach to testing can eliminate the element of chance.
Assess your current level of localization against each of these criteria to see how prepared your business is to take the next step. Learning to localize content, working with a flexible CMS, and testing rigorously are three great ways to get started.
Building digital foundations
To develop a strategy, it is essential to have a clear structure in place from the outset. This allows a framework against which to analyze current performance, as well as create your long-term marketing objectives.
The stakeholders across your business will have invaluable opinions on the company’s current approach, so you should ask them to contribute. Creating a questionnaire for all relevant parties to complete will provide an overview of where the business stands today. This can be coupled with workshops to collaborate on new solutions, all of which will lead naturally to a 12-month roadmap.
There are four areas for assessment that any brand should use the pillars for this exercise:
- People: Creating the most effective organizational structure and populating the structure with the right blend of skills are two of the biggest challenges for any international marketing plan. Most businesses will choose either a centralized or a decentralized model. In the former, content is controlled by one core team, with support for localization provided by native speakers of the relevant languages. In the case of the latter, local markets have much more control over content creation, but will still liaise frequently with the central brand team. Considerations including the company’s business objectives and the operational costs of hiring people or a supporting agency will typically shape the outcome of this decision.
- Process: The processes you need to develop will be informed by the team structure you have opted to implement. Much of this work will relate to the development, creation, and publication of new content. Ensuring the right processes exist for research, production, review, and performance evaluation will create significant efficiencies in the long run. Other processes you will likely need to develop relate to optimization for search, budget approvals, and integration with PR and social teams.
- Platform: Based on your marketing objectives, select technology partners that will enhance your chances of success. Audit your current technology stack to see how well each platform meets your requirements and assess the business case for upgrading in areas where you are restricted by current technologies. A fundamental aspect of this evaluation will be your content management system. Investing in this area creates a host of benefits, including the ability to manage content for all international markets on one platform and collaborate on content creation across different territories.
- Performance: It perhaps goes without saying that data underpins every aspect of the creation of digital strategy. Nonetheless, it is still vital to ensure that a digital measurement framework is created specifically to support your strategy, allowing for evaluation of performance at a global and local level. The metrics included in your report may differ for each market to reflect the nuanced nature of the path to purchase for international consumers. Reports should also be created for specific stakeholders at the business, from content marketing through to the development team and the C-suite.