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4 Tips on Customizing Marketing Strategies for Global Audiences


Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

By Kenyatta Skyles

When a business expands its marketing efforts to a global audience, it creates growth opportunities and reaches new customers who may not otherwise have discovered a brand, product, or service. Connecting with international audiences entails understanding cultures, online behaviors, and local customs. Success in creating an international marketing strategy can set up a company to be like Dunkin’ Donuts, while not conducting appropriate research can cause a $10 million mistake like HSBC‘s. 

To avoid making the blunders of countless other brands, consider the following four tips to kickstart your business’s marketing strategy for an international audience.

1. Assemble a Global Team
A team is only as good as the individuals that comprise it, meaning: Make sure that yours represents the markets you are seeking to enter. The best marketing strategy to ensure you understand a geographic region’s cultural norms will include team members from the target community. If you are looking to expand your product to Brazil, for example, do you have people on your team — staffers, contractors, or influencers — who can inform decisions based on local customs, language, and culture? The team should understand historical, cultural cues, and current events that may impact how your product or company will be received. This is where translation and localization experts become key players on your team.

2. Conduct Cultural Research
Once you have your team in place, cultural research will help address insights about the geographical regions and the audience you seek to engage. This research will also help you decide whether you want to implement a geographic segmentation strategy or focus on a larger community segment. In addition to your team, you will want to conduct research to understand the community’s perception of you and your brand. What are the community norms you should be aware of? Are you reading the latest publications to understand how recent events may impact the perception of your product? Are you conducting social listening to hear what people are saying about the brand? If you can understand cultural traits, you can be more intentional in localizing your brand’s message in a compelling way. Success in a global market takes concise research that saves your company from any embarrassment for not doing its due diligence. Further still, it means building and sustaining a loyal audience who feels your brand understands their needs.

3. Create Culturally Relevant Content
With insights in hand, the marketing team must now devise content that will compel individuals in this new market to convert. The content should sound like it comes from someone in the community; for example, are there local holidays or events important in that region that should be included in the messaging? Based on your research, are there local phrases or slang that would give your content greater authenticity? Use the knowledge gathered from your cultural analysis to create engaging messaging, and remember that one size does not fit all. What works in one country or region may not necessarily work for an adjacent area.

4. Don’t Forget Your Website & SEO
Once you have created content that will win over your global audience, the next step is to check that your website is optimized to display in online searches and meet your customers’ needs. Using content localization and translation services and software, such as Smartling, will elevate your content to your audience and ensure that you are accounting for the localization of slogans and taglines that may otherwise be overlooked. As for SEO, it’s imperative that brands translate and localize to confirm what words are being used in the market and how that changes over time. For successful optimization, it’s imperative to “do research upfront how will you optimize your site to be able to get people who might not know about you, or might not know that they are even looking for a service like this, but will find it through other traditional routes,” said Jordanna Ber, Head of Localization at Rover during the recent AMA New York’s “Marketer’s Toolkit Workshop.”

Converting a global audience requires much consideration, but with a well thought-out marketing strategy, your brand will create lifelong advocates. In the words of poet Dr. Maya Angelou, “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” If you make your customers feel like you understand their interest, their culture, and their societal norms, even when challenges arise, they will still be loyal to your service or product.

Kenyatta Skyles is a nonprofit professional with a background in strategic partnerships, digital marketing, and content creation. She currently volunteers as a blogger with AMA New York and has been with the organization since 2017 primarily serving on the Programming Committee. You can connect with Kenyatta on LinkedIn.