The U.S. has traditionally led the way when it comes to innovation in advertising and marketing technology, but it is quickly becoming aware of the potential of international markets.
Though projections vary slightly from source to source, global digital ad spend is poised to reach approximately 250 billion by 2018, and no matter who you ask, there’s a significant share of that revenue coming from outside the U.S.
Global marketing in the digital age means something entirely new; logistical issues such as language barriers and physical distribution matter far less in an age when information is transmitted through ones and zeros.
Going global certainly is no easy feat for an organization of any size, but it doesn’t have to be as daunting as it sounds. For one thing, to reach the European market, you don’t necessarily need to open offices in London and Paris. You can reach those audiences via the universal language of data.
Keeping It Simple
Actually, it’s important for any organization contemplating going global to be sure it isn't over-complicating its international business structure, considering there are so many data tools now available to streamline and simplify the process.
Consider the data juggernauts—Facebook, Twitter, Google, and a few up-and-comers—which, let’s face it, we’re all partnered with in some way or other. These companies have massive reach and market penetration across the world, meaning their international data is just as viable and just as accessible and, importantly, just as actionable as it would be if it were coming from stateside audiences.
And when you boil it down, regardless of cultural and ethnic differences, people are still people all over the world, and as long as you are capturing their data, it can be used to tailor messaging and drive overall sales and revenue goals. Intent is intent, no matter the language through which it is communicated. And intent is what is at the heart of truly effective digital marketing.
So how do you capture that intent and act on that insight?
The Cloud Advantage
Ultimately, it’s similar to what you need to do to reach U.S. audiences. Cloud computing has made a tremendous impact on digital marketing all over the world in recent years, and it can also give marketers entré into foreign markets by making data accessible in the cloud regardless of its origin.
Cloud computing is what makes marketing automation possible, a development that really did revolutionize digital marketing, and it is also at the heart of so many of our industry’s daily practices like lead tracking and sales management and business infrastructure.
Again, depending on who you ask, it is estimated that approximately one-third of global digital content is stored in the cloud. The prospect of having all that information at one’s fingertips is enough to set many marketers' hearts aflutter, but it is important to also have the tools and organizational structure in place to take advantage of that information in international markets.
Corporate headquarters must take the lead and set the direction, but must allow local market associates to imprint campaigns with their fingerprints. Clearly brand control is paramount, and by consistently communicating as a team, you get the best of both goals, consistent messaging with local flair. Every tool that increases your ability to communicate is important. For example, use a video service so the team can see one another and feel connected.
Finding The Right Tools And Tactics
Microsoft Dynamics comes to mind as a great example of best practices. It recently set an international campaign, and every country involved was encouraged to raise concerns and establish the best methods for communication to their prospects. I saw this unfold, as Madison Logic worked with them, and it was a great experience to watch. Team members from various countries leaned on one another for information and confirmation.
IP targeting is another tactic that some marketers use to gather and act on international data. This involves determining the geolocation of a Web site visitor and delivering different content to that visitor based on his or her location, such as country, state, city, metro code/zip code, organization, IP address, ISP, or other criteria.
IP targeting can be useful because it does not rely on cookies and tags, but there are also certain issues associated with it. It works for smaller businesses because generally the entire team is aware of or involved in a purchase decision, but in large organizations it doesn’t make sense to target messages for cloud products to every person who works for a company. And ultimately, I think it is less comprehensive in terms of real insight.
These tools help organizations without the global reach of a Microsoft or a Google to take advantage of the global marketing share without a complicated and expensive structure, but the approach to expanding into other markets is just as crucial to success.
Though it can be tempting to base international marketing on geolocation data because you may be focused on the actual geography of a foreign market, it’s far more effective to focus on the people instead of the places. Digital marketing today is all about engagement vs. reach, and intent data is the key to engaging users anytime, anywhere.