Digital Agency, Digital Marketing

A Brief Guide To International Marketing

With the rise of the digital landscape and sophisticated technologies, business globalization has become a common and growing phenomenon. So, if you’re planning to expand your business internationally, you will first need to build a solid international marketing strategy. This means having a beautiful website, optimized for local searches, as well as delivering relevant content, and building relationships on social networks. Here is a brief guide to international marketing.

Let’s see how to get the most out of your international marketing strategy.

Optimize your site structure for international marketing

Optimize Your Site Structure

Before you start creating international content, you first need to choose the right website structure. The idea is to help search engines understand your content and send traffic from your target countries.

Now, there are ways to optimize your website structure.

Use Top-Level Country-Code Domains (ccTLDs)

The major benefit of using ccTLDs for each country you’re targeting is that they will make your site visible to the right audience. Many big companies use this option, including Coca-Cola (e.g. coca-cola.bg, coca-cola.it, coca-cola.hk). The only problem is that maintaining multiple ccTLDs may be too expensive.

Use Subdirectories

In this case, your localized content will be placed under a specific subdirectory. This is the option many popular brands choose, including Ikea. Their URL looks like this: ikea.com/rs, ikea.com/de, IKEA/com/es. The reason why this website structure is popular is that you will use your site’s domain authority to boost visibility in international searches.

You don’t have to use .com to create subdirectories. There are many alternate domain extensions that can boost your uniqueness. For example, Mssg.me is a perfect example of how to personalize your service using the .me extension, as they turned their name into a strong call-to-action. For their Russian audiences, they created the mssg.me/ru subdirectory.

Use Subdomains

Your site’s URL would look something like it.example.com, fr.example.com, etc. Therefore, you won’t need to worry about building and maintaining multiple websites. The main problem with subdomains lies in the fact that your sites would share authority. So, if you’re using numerous subdomains, your SEO efforts may suffer.

Targeting International Customers On Social Media

Sharing on social media and how it helps with international marketing

Social media marketing is crucial for building strong relationships with international audiences and maximize brand awareness. For starters, you will need to decide whether you’re going to use one social media profile per platform or you will create separate profiles for each country. This depends on your budget, how many social media specialists you can hire, and so forth.

If you opt for the latter option, building separate profiles per country, optimize them properly. You will need to hire a social media manager in each country and create a detailed style guide for them. The brief should explain what they can post on the profiles, what language style to use, what to avoid, how to use your logo, how to answer customers’ questions and, above all, how to manage a social media crisis. Company descriptions, information, and design need to stay the same across all profiles to boost brand consistency.

If you’re going to use one profile to target international customers, make sure you hire a social media manager who understands geotargeting. The idea is to deliver the right content to the right audiences. For example, your post in Italian should only be visible and advertised in Italy.

Localize Keyword Research

Keyword research is critical for your online exposure. Your goal is to rank as high as possible for relevant local keywords.

First, adapt keyword research to the right search engines. Just because Google is the major search engine in your country doesn’t mean it is the most popular in other countries. In Russia, Yandex is the main search engine. In China, it’s Baidu, while in South Korea, it’s Naver and Daum. So, why is this important? Well, not all search engines work in the same way.

Let’s take a few differences between Google and Baidu as an example. Enter basically any keyword in Baidu and you will see that there are only four organic results. The rest is paid ads and the search engine’s features. As Baidu is filled with rich snippets, you will need to focus on long-tail keywords to appear there.

That’s why Google Translate and literal translations won’t work for you. To appeal to international audiences, you need to understand their search intent and optimize your pages for the keywords they search for. Start by localizing your keywords and conducting extensive competitor research to find the terms they’re using. That’s where keyword research tools like SemRush and KWFinder can help a lot, as they let you research keywords by country. Google Keyword Planner, Bing Ads Keyword Planner, Yandex Keyword Statistics, and Baidu Index will also tell you what search terms are used by their audiences.

Adapt Your Messaging And Translation

There are a few mistakes businesses make when building international websites.

First, they use English on their foreign websites. Never assume that your customers understand and use English. No matter how quality your products and content are, if people don’t understand them, they will leave your site and go to your competitors. So, if you want to market to foreign audiences and build relationships with them, you need to speak their language. Research says that 72% of consumers spend more time on sites in their language, while 73% of them would rather purchase from a site in their language.

This leads us to the second problem – literal translations. If you believe that using Google Translate is enough, it’s time to reconsider your decisions. Let me remind you of some popular translation failures that prove that localization is not easy. For example, Electrolux advertised its products in the U.S. under the slogan: “Nothing sucks like Electrolux,” while KFC translated their “finger-licking good” slogan to Chinese as “eat your fingers off.”

Sometimes, even hiring a good translator is not enough. Apart from translating your content, you will also need to localize it. In other words, you need to understand certain cultural implications, local customs, struggles, etc. You need to speak to your audiences in a language that resonates with them and avoid offending them.

Pay Attention To Website Design

UI designers discussing user interface as it can change with international marketing

Similar to your brand content, website design heavily depends on many cultural factors.

For starters, use original photography and illustrations that resonate with your local audiences. Ask yourself whether the visual content conveys your brand messages. Also, pay attention to culturally-sensitive content. Avoid anything that may offend you’re your target audience. Content always needs to help local audiences identify with your brand.

Next, pay attention to the layout of your website. In Western countries, clear, minimalist design is widely used. Lots of white space and short paragraphs are key to improving user experiences. Such website layouts may seem empty and dull to Asian searchers. In China, for example, sites often more dynamic, with more text and visuals and, as such, they may be considered overloaded to Western searchers.

The symbolism of colors also matters. Let’ take a few simple examples. In Europe and North America, yellow is the brightest color, representing happiness. In Latin America and the Middle East, this color often stands for mourning.

Over To You

Building a detailed international marketing strategy revolves around understanding your new customer demographics and adapting your design, messaging, offers, and channels to their needs. Sure, these are just some initial tactics you should implement. There is a lot more to do to boost create a digital marketing strategy that resonates with international audiences, including:

  • Claiming your Google My Business listings.
  • Building links on international sites.
  • Avoiding duplicate content.
  • Improving your Hreflang tags.
  • Creating language-specific PPC campaigns.
  • Investing in a CDN.

We hope you can find use in our brief guide to international marketing. If you have more questions please fill out the form below.

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