How to Kick Start Your International Marketing Strategy by Leveraging Content

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Kick-Start Your International Marketing With Content | SEJ

Global marketing. Localization. International marketing. Entering emerging markets.

Basically, world domination.

These are large, terrifying words because they represent an even bigger, intimidating marketing strategy. And when you think of putting that strategy into action, the reasons (excuses) start to pile against it:

  • “Global marketing is for deep-pocketed Fortune 500 companies like Coca-Cola or Salesforce.”
  • “It’s just too large of a project to take on right now.”
  • “We really don’t have the bandwidth or budget.”

So you shy away from the thought of expanding beyond the borders of where you set up shop. Until eventually, you hit a ceiling and your company stops growing. 

But the fact is that doing the same ol’, same ol’ won’t allow you to continue to grow (how do you think you become a Fortune 500 company, anyway?). There are massive opportunities to be explored in different markets — opportunities that others may see as obstacles or risk.

And investing in a global marketing strategy isn’t as daunting as you might think.

There are small steps you can take to develop a global digital marketing strategy — starting with your content marketing — and they’re all pretty digestible and straightforward.

Start With What Works in Local Markets

At its core, international marketing strategy isn’t rocket science. It’s about taking what works and doing more of it.

Think about how you grew your current marketing channels, drove leads and ultimately got more customers. Then replicate that strategy and localize it in other markets.

From the beginning at Unbounce we focused on growing our content channels and distributing that content through an engaged online social community. As co-founder Oli Gardner puts it:

Unbounce has been a content-driven company since day one.

So when we set out to tackle international marketing, looking beyond our North American customer base, we knew focusing on the content strategies that brought us growth over the last six years was a great place to start — from writing epic blog posts to comprehensive e-books and revenue-generating webinars.

Knowing that these content marketing campaigns brought us growth in North America, we set out to replicate them for the German market.

Leverage Content That Performs Well

A study of Fortune 500 companies showed those who localized their content were two times more likely to increase profit and 1.25 times more likely to grow earnings per share year over year.

As Scott Yancey, CEO at Cloudwords puts it:

Localization of content is critical for engaging audiences outside company headquarters because it represents marketing personalization in its purest form.

You can’t just translate all your landing pages and pricing pages and call it a day. Like any other leads, leads in other markets expect you to deliver value.

So how do you get started on localizing content and driving leads?

1. Prioritize and Identify Opportunities

If you think of about creating localized marketing campaigns for the world, you’ll easily get overwhelmed and it will seem like a massive undertaking. Take it country by country, step by step, and you’ll see results faster.

Which markets represent the biggest opportunity for you? To determine the potential of various countries, you should ask questions like:

  • How many customers do you currently have in specific regions and how much success have you had in that market?
  • How much revenue do you pull in from that country? How much revenue per user?
  • What’s churn like in that region?
  • How easy will it be for your company to do business in that market? What are your emerging markets?
  • How mature is the market? Will you have to educate the market about your product/service and create more top-of-the-funnel activities?
  • How easy will it be for people to pay you? Do they readily use credit cards? This article about selling through a subscription model in Brazil shows how laws, politics, taxes, and bank rules can all represent hurdles for SaaS companies looking to expand their reach.

Make it a goal to identify your top three growth markets. Once you have a clearer picture and a deeper understanding of where you should go, well, go there.

2. Hire a Unicorn

Once you’ve chosen a country, you’ll want to hire a local marketer.

Ideally, this person will be a full stack marketer who has a deep understanding of that specific region (whether they’re originally from there or physically living there).

You’ll want a marketing ambassador who can communicate effectively with that regional market while simultaneously driving results for your business. In short, you’ll want someone who gets work done.

Locals value being able to interact with an ambassador for your company — whether via email, Skype, webinars or live events — in the language of their choice.

Fabian Liebig has quickly become the face of Optimizely in Germany, just as Inken Kuhlmann has become the face of HubSpot in the German, Austrian, and Swiss region (DACH). At Unbounce, we’ve got our very own DACH marketer too: Ben Harmanus.

The day a brand gets a local ambassador is the day they truly become a local player.

3. Look at Your Data and Identify Popular Content

Once you’ve got your country and your marketer, it’s time to start marketing. But where to start?

When it comes to content marketing in these new markets, you don’t have to reinvent the wheel. Think of the the current content that attracts new visitors to your website and converts them into leads and customers:

  • Dig into your traffic data to see which evergreen blog posts are performing well. Translate those posts or write original content on a similar subject.

Kick-Start Your International Marketing With Content | SEJ

We translated our popular blog post “The 5 Essential Elements of a Winning Landing Page” and localized it for the DACH market.
  • Evaluate which of your e-books has brought you the most leads. Don’t forget to ask yourself if the content is still relevant to the market you’re expanding to.

Kick-Start Your International Marketing With Content | SEJ

HubSpot, the masters of lead gen, translated and localized an e-book to grow their Latin American leads and customers.
  • Instead of subtitling webinars, get local experts to hold webinars in the language of the market you’re expanding into.

4. Translate and Localize Content Pieces

Equipped with a list of content validated by your original market, it’s time to start preparing content for your new market by translating it. But translating your content word-for-word isn’t enough for it to resonate with new markets. You also need to localize it.

What exactly does this mean? You need to be flexible and react to trends in the particular region. For example, while North Americans love football, baseball, and ice hockey, everyone in Europe is talking about soccer (or football– you need to localize language as well!).

This will determine which pop culture references you make in your content, but also which tactics and strategies you should write about. In the words of our DACH marketing manager Ben:

The knowledge level in Europe or Germany is very different. All the marketing trends from North America take 2-3 years or even longer to become some kind of trend over here; 4-5 years to become a best practice.

I have to be careful what topics I pick to position the brand. You need to adapt. Choose your topic and combine your content with trending topics in your local market.

From there, create a new category or WordPress install for your new, translated blog content and get to posting.

Kick-Start Your International Marketing With Content | SEJ

Unbounce’s German blog homepage

Once you’ve got the ball rolling, you’ll also want to email your current customers from that region and invite them to read your blog content, subscribe to a webinar or download an e-book in their native language.

Kick-Start Your International Marketing With Content | SEJ

This is the email we sent to our German customers, telling them about the launch of our blog and inviting them to subscribe.

Chances are they will be delighted to find content in their native language, which could potentially lower churn and increase customer lifetime value. They might even share the piece with their friends.

You know what that means, right? Leads on leads on leads!

5. Create Localized Landing Pages to Generate Leads

It’s nice to think that if you create content, people will come, but you need to give people opportunities to convert.

To get started, you’ll want to translate a number of your landing pages:

  • Blog subscription landing page: Don’t forget to give people an opportunity to subscribe to regular blog updates, whether in the blog sidebar or on a dedicated blog subscription landing page.
Kick-Start Your International Marketing With Content | SEJ

The email prospects receive upon signing up for our German Newsletter.

  • Lead gen pages for e-books and webinars: Just as you would on your current blog, be sure to optimize posts for lead gen. For example, have a look at this CTA our German community manager Ben placed at the end of a German blog post:

Kick-Start Your International Marketing With Content | SEJ

Kick-Start Your International Marketing With Content | SEJ

  • Pricing page/trial sign up page: Building out an entire localized website can take some time. If you don’t have the development time (who does?) or budget to fully translate your website site at first, get your local marketing manager to build and localize a simple landing page that they can send traffic to in the meantime.

Kick-Start Your International Marketing With Content | SEJ

This is our product page for the DACH region. While we localize our website to give our DACH region a dedicated web experience, we send traffic to this. Click for full-length landing page.

6. Build Localized Communities Around Your Content

Once you’ve got your content and lead gen landing pages in place, you want to drive as much traffic as possible.

Ideally, you’ve hired a local marketer who can now begin to help you build a community and audience around a specific region.

Kick-Start Your International Marketing With Content | SEJ

Eventbrite, HubSpot, and Hootsuite have individual, region-specific social accounts to target a localized audience.

Have your unicorn run these accounts — their deep understanding of the market will help them speak to audience members in language they can really relate to.

Are You Ready to Take on the World?

Moving into different markets can be daunting and intimidating.

But if you take it one step at a time and start by leveraging past content marketing campaigns that you’ve run, it starts to feel much more manageable.

And then you no longer feel like you have the weight of the world on your shoulders.

 

This post originally appeared on Unbounce, and is re-published with permission.

Image Credits

Featured Image: Hurst Photo/Shutterstock.com
All screenshots by Stefanie Grieser. Taken November 2015.

Stefanie Grieser

Stefanie Grieser

Head of International Marketing at Unbounce
Stefanie heads up International Marketing at Unbounce, helping to identify and pursue growth opportunities in new markets. In a past life, she spearheaded and launched... Read Full Bio
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  • Roger Rogerson

    There’s a lot there – but the one thing that should be there isn’t – Differences.
    You’d be amazed at how different some cultures are.
    Things that are of influence or priority in one part of the world may not be in another.
    So you need to “understand” any cultural shift, as well as language ones.

    Language is a funny thing. I’m always hesitant of “word by word” translations – as depending what language/culture you are looking at, there may not be any “translation”. Think how often we use expressions/idioms/metaphors/similes when we communicate. In a lot of cases – those do not directly translate.
    There’s also the “taboo” issue – some words/phrasing can have a very different implication in other cultures.

    With that in mind – I cannot express how Vital it is to get a Local involved.
    They need to know more than the language! They need to know the culture, the social mentality, the boundaries, the taboos, the motivations, the cultural emotions etc. This is why many of the leading big companies look to hiring local leadership – from manufacturers to financial institutions – they all learned the hard way that “language” alone is insufficient (and no, looking up foreign swear words and noting their calendars is not enough either :D).

    You also need to think long and hard about Structure.
    There are two things to consider – language and location. Some locations have multiple languages. Alternatively, some language speakers are in many different locations.
    This will influence your site options. Single parent site with Directories, or with SubDomains … or multiple sites with localised GeoTLDs?
    Then you have the joy of deploying href-lang (get that wrong with Canonical and you could bounce round the SERPs a little).

    And it’s not just your site structure you need to organise.
    Reporting and liasing with multiple locations and timezones can be a major PITA!
    If you’re going to be dealing with localised reps in the US, Australia, Japan and Spain, you are in for a very long day 😀
    But you need to be not only organised – you need an alert system in place. If something happens in X – everyone else needs to know about it instantly. So you need a centralised communication point, and a “phone tree” to make sure everyone is kept up to date. It would also help if you had a centralised language (or at least ensure that you have translators available to work fast).

  • very informative
    Stefanie Grieser

  • Sushrut Padhye

    Great post this. Would love to work in DACH given a chance (currently an antipode), albeit my German is limited to auf wiedersehen.

    On a key note, I would like to know if any marketing trends cross-over from Germany (or Europe, in general) to the American market the way they do the other way round.

  • Hootsuite España

    Fantastic piece of content, congrats Stephanie! We’re going to share this on @HootsuiteES!

    We can recognize here some of the challenges and the localization conundrums we’ve been through as a company, and it’s so refreshing to see “we’re in this together” when it comes to find the right strategy to get into a new market (and respectfully meeting the local audience), or keep being involved in an existing market.

    As a further insight, our localization strategy varies a lot depending on the country, but there’s one thing that our approach has in common regardless of where in the world – our local Brand Ambassador support, helping us on @HootsuiteES (one of our “oldest” handles) but also in the rest of the world with events and offline activities even where a specific social channel is not available.

    Our online user communities and Brand Ambassadors are our eyes and ears on the ground, helping us with insight, retention, reputation, loyalty, WOM, education, thought leadership, and ultimately to tie everything back to ROI – so a lot of credit for being mentioned here on your article, goes to them.

    ¡Gracias @Stephanie! for mentioning Hootsuite and HootsuiteES as accounts to look at for localization and market knowledge. We’re proud to be here with other great colleagues and brands.

    Thanks,
    Ileana Rossello, EMEA Manager of Community