5 top tips for international marketing

Taking the decision that you want to expand your marketing efforts to an international audience can be a great opportunity to grow your brand and reach new regions.

shutterstock_174842501You need to remember it’s not as simple as translating your website; there are many cultural nuances that need to be thought about before you take the first step on your campaign journey. Our top five tips will help you reach an international audience and take your company global.

Going “Glocal” – getting it right

When working on a global marketing campaign, remember that it doesn’t mean local, market-specific plans and initiatives should be excluded. International marketing is all about looking at the bigger picture, whilst thinking “glocally” – reflecting on both global and local considerations. This can often be hard to do, but setting parameters within which local marketing operates will give teams the freedom to monitor more local programmes.

Some areas are best delivered locally, especially when working on tactical initiatives and partnerships. Others such as branding, strategic marketing, large-scale campaigns, social media strategies and global PR can be delivered from one central marketing team, to ensure consistency across the board.

Media mix – what works best?

Marketing channels vary from territory to territory. In some countries, you may rely mostly on social media or online advertising. Getting it right is crucial. In China, Ren Ren and Weibo are popular social platforms but in the Middle East, SnapChat is the platform of choice. In others, it could be outdoor advertising, local newspapers or radio. For example; press releases are the most popular form of media outreach in Dubai, but in France case studies are considered more effective. Engaging with your local marketing teams from the beginning will ensure you reach the most popular social platform for that region, safeguarding you from costly and timely errors.

Don’t get lost in translation

When a company wants to take that first step, it shouldn’t be rushed. Simply popping your website into Google translate is not enough to ensure success in a new region. We’ve all heard stories of global brands getting it wrong. Many produce campaigns that may work in one region, but when translated they either don’t make sense, or worse still are considered offensive. They have literally been lost in translation.

It isn’t enough to simply translate your content and website into target languages if quality is your goal — don’t serve second-rate content to your international clients. Hire a social media manager who’s fluent in the local language to translate and manage all online activity. This will ensure that you give your campaign as much chance of success as you can.

Bridge the cultural gap

Gone are the days when global campaigns and strategies were applied in a blanket fashion across international regions – it simply doesn’t work.

Understanding the local culture, sense of humour and how people search for content, will ensure that you reach the local audience.

It’s difficult to replicate brand acceptance across multiple cultures, shown through something as simple as international colour symbolism. For example; in China, the colour red symbolises luck and in India, purity. However, in many Western countries, red symbolises danger. In Peru, white is associated with angels and good health, but in Korea and some other Asian countries white represents death, mourning, and bad luck and is traditionally worn at funerals.

If you’re in a global marketing role make sure you research your markets thoroughly and take the time to get to know the international teams you will be working with. Having people on the ground, who know the culture and speak the language will ensure that your global plans are fruitful.

It’s not all about Google

Global search engine marketing is a combination of choosing the correct search engines and understanding keywords. If you don’t have the two working in unison, it doesn’t matter how great your marketing campaign is, it won’t be a success. Research which search engines are used by the markets you are pursuing. For example; in China you would need high visibility on Baidu, which is the dominant search engine. Don’t assume its Google globally!

With international search engine marketing, don’t focus on translating keywords into foreign languages, as this simply won’t work. Instead, work with native speakers trained in search marketing to decide which native keywords would best correlate with your website.

Remembering that one size doesn’t fit all when marketing your brand globally, will help you along your journey, to ensure your campaign is successful.

By Heidi Myers, director of marketing and communications EMEA, Meltwater