Getting to Global Markets Using Digital Marketing

The beauty of the Internet is the opportunity to tap into markets in other countries. But, is it that easy? Do you merely put money into a search campaign in Australia and be done with it? Or, do you have to find the right ingredients to make it work for you? And, what might those ingredients be?

In this blog, I’m going to share my research on what works – depending on your product or service – for the global markets that you know need what you have to offer. Follow along with answers to the most relevant questions for your digital marketing strategy to reach customers in foreign countries.

Why is digital marketing important in the global marketplace?

While some still depend on traditional methods of capturing their market, digital is taking over. According to Wordstream, the compound annual growth rate of digital marketing from 2020-2026 is projected at 9%. Display ads are projected to grow 15.5%, with search growing at 12.2%. A key point to note is that search ads account for 41% of global digital advertising. This is evidence that businesses are increasingly shifting their marketing budget in the global marketplace.

Many assume online advertising is the best way to reach markets outside of their own country. However, there is never a single method when tackling digital marketing (especially in foreign lands); in fact there are various components to consider.

What do you need to consider when reaching markets in other countries?

Here are 6 components to assess and implement as a part of your global marketing strategy.

1.     Content

A brand represents itself through content that tells a story with written words and visual images. There are many types of content from blogs to photos, videos and podcasts. Developing a content strategy specific to a market’s needs is one of the best ways to capture their attention. Find out what kind of content works in other markets by split-testing images, messages and calls to action before investing in long-term campaigns.

2.     SEO

One of the best approaches to showing up online in markets that are looking for what you have to offer is to employ SEO with keywords and phrases that are relevant in a specific country. Understanding SEO best practices can help get a website to show up in an organic search. Customizing your SEO to match foreign market keywords and phrases is the way to go.

3.     Social Media

Finding the right social media platforms by country is a start to knowing which channels work. Paid ads through social media platforms to reach geo-targeted markets work to segment by demographic and psychographic filters This can be the best way to test content that’s more cost-effective than search ads.

4.     YouTube  

The world has not only gone digital, it has jumped onto videos as a key channel for content distribution. Videos work in global markets because they are easy to view with or without sound so they can tell a story without a language barrier.

5.     Reviews

More people depend on reviews to make purchasing decisions. The research tells us 97% of consumers check online reviews before buying a product. Getting reviews from customers in specific cities is key to gaining exposure to that localized market. Requesting user-generated content along with their reviews is an even better approach.

6.     Influencers

This is the ticket for the future of marketing in global markets. Like reviews, people will trust someone whose opinion they value. Using influencers as a channel for distributing content is growing and something every brand should consider.

How to approach digital marketing in international markets?

As you can tell, digital marketing is not a one-size-fits-all approach. Segmenting markets by particular characteristics helps us to better target specific campaigns to reach customers in different cities, states, and countries because it works to optimize customers’ awareness, interaction and overall engagement. It is also critical to consider a country’s local customs and social values in an effort to integrate those norms into a segmentation approach.

Segmentation works because it appeals on a more personal level. When we customize campaigns for niche markets the customer’s experience is enhanced which gives the brand a more favorable perception thereby increasing the likelihood of conversion.

Yeah, but what’s the BEST approach?

Sure, segmentation is great, but that’s a standard marketing practice. What else is there to do?

Research is important to get insights about the potential market viability in other countries! Check out the stats in your prospective country to get clarity about the market size (i.e. is it growing) and the population’s disposable income levels. Also collect other data pertaining to the country’s stability including the GDP, shipping barriers and language issues.

Quantitative research is great. It helps to inform decisions based on numbers. Qualitative information is also key to understanding foreign markets. Points such as people’s beliefs, values, work ethic, and lifestyle can all play a factor in connecting with customers on an emotional level.

Once you have a good idea of what the research is telling you about the market, be sure to focus your efforts on both SEO and SEM to optimize your ROI. Understanding what competitors are doing in the market in which you’re focusing is also informative research that can provide direction on what’s working.

There are plenty of strategies to try aside from SEO and SEM. Testing content that appeals to the market segment, social media marketing, email remarketing, link-building and landing pages (customized with language and customs appropriate to the market’s country) are worth considering. The best approach is one that you optimize to gain the right results.

For a look at one company that’s done it right check out Netflix’s digital marketing success. Here’s an excerpt:

Netflix has demonstrated that developing country-specific knowledge is critical for success in local markets. This knowledge needs to be both broad and deep, extending across political, institutional, regulatory, technical, cultural, customer, and competitor domains. Understanding local cultures ensured that Netflix could be sensitive to and respond to their differences. This enhanced its credibility and helped it forge smooth relationships with key stakeholders.

That pretty much says it all.

Toni Guffei is a marketing strategist who works with growing and changing companies.

Follow on X: @tonironi