The challenges of expanding a brand’s global reach

Even if the world is even more of a global village thanks to the internet, it doesn’t mean one size fits all for online marketing strategy, argues Phil Stelter, client services director at Uniquedigital

The biggest obstacle to any company seeking a global presence is the company’s own stereotypical westernised approach to targeting global consumers. Although consumers in the UK behave similarly to consumers in the US, this doesn’t mean that the same generic online marketing strategies can be applied across Europe and Asia.
Europe has a population larger than 800 million and Asia, with over 4 billion people, accounts for 60% of the world’s current population. These figures dwarf the population figures of the US and UK, which are just over 300 million and 61 million respectively.

Over the last decade, the internet has revolutionised the way companies’ approach online marketing. With the ability to target consumers across the globe and track all online consumer behaviour, marketers can finally understand the effectiveness and revenue generated by their campaigns. The challenge then comes from trying to decentralise marketing efforts which were hinging on a centralised approach.
The most important factor for successfully expanding brand awareness and driving incremental sales across the globe is to cater for local and native consumer demand. Some of the strategies brands can use to achieve global brand awareness and increased sales include:

  1. Advertise in the native language – consumers see it as a sign of respect if a global brand tries to communicate with them in their native tongue, and it automatically increases brand affinity.
  2. Understand which online channels are important for the local market’s consumers. Find out how they consume their media online. Are they using Facebook or a local alternative to our western-centric opinion of social networking? Do they use Google to perform their online searches or the likes of Yandex (Russia), Seznam (Czech Republic), Baidu (China/Japan) or a combination of both? Do not assume that foreign online consumer’s approach to media consumption is similar to the US and/or the United Kingdom. Be aware of the cultural and linguistic difference between countries and even regions within countries.
  3. Align all adverting efforts across media channels. Search marketing, display advertising, mobile advertising, social media advertising, and other digital touch points should be aligned with all offline activity as well. Integration is key to achieving brand visibility in other countries, key messages and imagery should be displayed uniformly across all online and offline media.
  4. Have a finely tailored, bespoke approach to every global market at a decentralised level but also make sure that all fragmented, localised, marketing and advertising efforts are tied back into the overarching centralised strategy.
  5. Create a localised website in the native language for each country, and align transactions and fulfilment to that country. Local websites in synergy with local or regional fulfilment perform significantly better than centralised systems.

Europe and Asia represent the largest part of the populated world and this shouldn’t be underestimated when trying to cater for local, native consumers. Global corporate companies should find and understand the balance between having a centralised compared to a decentralised approach. Cater for consumer’s local and native demands. Cultural and linguistic differences are extremely important. Understand which media channels consumers use – do not just assume the mainstream channels are the only digital touch points. Align online strategies with offline advertising to ensure all marketing efforts are synergised.

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