How to Develop a Digital Marketing Strategy for International Audience

11 Min. Read

For every business, going international is a great achievement, as it opens new markets and new opportunities to increase revenue.

However, a sweet dream can turn into a nightmare even for the big corporations if they don’t have a proper marketing strategy to target their international audience.

Entering International Market: Two Stories about Failure + Success

The first story happened back in 2011, when Best Buy, a large American electronics retailer, decided to enter the European market but did not succeed.

The company not only announced its move too early, thus giving its competitors Dixons and Comet time to respond, but also failed to recognize that, at that time, Europeans preferred to buy electronics from smaller shops rather than big retailers.

Best Buy’s mistake was not taking into account the preferences of their new international audience, but also failing to address their needs in their marketing strategy.

This story is the complete opposite of Netflix’s attempt to conquer international markets. The company seemed to have learned from Best Buy’s failure and took a more cautious approach to their marketing strategy.

According to Harvard Business Review, when entering the European market, Netflix recognized that they already have competitors there. The company took into account the need of the local audiences in the native language interface and dubbing and targeted early adopters with digital marketing efforts.

The company takes pride in its digital marketing and data management strategy, offering its subscribers the content according to their preferences. Besides, Netflix employed a very strong viral marketing strategy, using social media to its advantage.

As a result, the company conquered the international audience that was previously hesitant to pay for a streaming service.

Netflix’s example shows how powerful digital marketing can be. And, if used correctly, it can bring the same positive results to your e-commerce company as well.

How Can Digital Marketing Help Your Business Go International?

Our world has never been as ‘digital’ as it is now. The majority of people find their news online, where they also follow brands and their activity.

Today, consumers also prefer to buy products online. On the graph below, you can see how fast the number of digital buyers has been growing since 2014 and is expected to reach 2.14 billion by 2021:

Image credit: Statista

With so many people buying goods online, it’s hard not to recognize that when targeting the international audience. That’s why many e-commerce brands employ digital marketing to help them address the needs of the new market.

Through different digital media, companies can reach international audiences faster.

For instance, social platforms and social media advertising can open the door to billions of people worldwide. You can reach a multi-million audience in any country just on Instagram alone:

Image credit: Statista

And, if you invest in content that takes you to the first page of Google results, you might get up to 92% of all consumer traffic and attract more attention from the international audience as a result.

With digital marketing, you’re not confined only to one medium. There are plenty of digital marketing strategies you can choose from:

  • SEO
  • PPC marketing
  • content marketing
  • email marketing
  • social media marketing
  • link-building and outreach
  • web design and landing page strategy

Having such an abundance of choices is great if you plan for your e-commerce business to go international. If one of them doesn’t work, you can always switch to the next one and see how the international audience responds.

How to Build a Digital Marketing Strategy for an Int. Audience

Of course, just having a digital marketing strategy doesn’t guarantee you success in the international arena.

If you want your digital marketing strategy to bring you the results you expect, you need to approach it carefully and methodically.

So, here’s our quick guide for all e-commerce business owners, who need a good digital marketing strategy to conquer an international audience.

1. Build Your International Target Audience Persona

A successful digital marketing strategy for an international audience starts with a detailed definition of the buyer persona. For that, you will need a thorough analysis of the foreign market to collect details to build your target audience persona.

We’ve already seen how detrimental the failure to collect information about the international audience can be from Best Buy’s example. So, it is important to involve several channels to mine the data on who you will be targeting in your digital marketing campaign.

Here’s a quick step-by-step guide to help you conduct the analysis of a foreign audience and build a buyer persona.

Step #1: Start with market potential and socio-economic factors

This information is necessary to understand consumer potential and consumer projection. To analyze market potential and socio-economic factors, you might need the following data:

  • information about the population
  • GDP growth for the past few years, including GDP per capita
  • public infrastructure
  • consumer analytics
  • minimum wage
  • average pay

You might also want to consider the political situation in the foreign market and how it impacts the consumer potential and buying patterns.

Your goal here is to understand whether there is a demand for your product on the foreign market and if the foreign audience is in the position of buying your product for its price.

Step #2: Analyze socio-cultural factors

Don’t forget to thoroughly study the socio-cultural environment in which your new target audience lives. The socio-cultural environment typically consists of:

  • traditional beliefs
  • values
  • the organization of the society (e.g., the caste system)
  • lifestyle
  • behaviors
  • typical organizational culture and work ethics

All this information will give you an idea of how your new audience lives and functions.

But, most importantly, knowing all the socio-cultural details about the international audience will help you avoid controversial situations connected to the foreign culture in your digital marketing campaign.

Step #3: Build the Target Buyer Persona

Once you have all the necessary information at hand, you can now build a target buyer persona. The process is not different from any other standard marketing campaign. The only difference will be the information you include in the description of the buyer persona.

To make sure that you include all the details, here’s a handy checklist of items that should be present in the description of the buyer persona:

BUYER PERSONA DESCRIPTION

DEMOGRAPHICS

PSYCHOGRAPHICS

  • gender
  • age
  • location
  • language
  • education
  • industry
  • job title
  • income
  • family status
  • goals
  • problems
  • solutions
  • objections
  • traditional values/beliefs

If you want to make the process of building the target buyer persona more interactive, you can use HubSpot’s Make My Persona online tool. Here’s how the end result looks like:

This is a draft of what a basic buyer persona description looks like, but you can tailor it more to fit your international audience by including some culture-specific details that could influence their purchase patterns.

2. Do a Thorough Competitor Analysis

To build a digital marketing strategy for an international audience, you also need all the information connected to the possible competition in the foreign market.

You can collect this information from the competitor analysis that will ultimately help you:

  • better understand the market
  • target the international audience more effectively
  • make a forecast of the foreign market potential
  • track the economic climate
  • study similar products on the market and prices for them
  • find effective customer acquisition tactics based on the competitors’ experience

There are many factors that you need to take into account in the competitor analysis. Besides, you need every detail on what works for them and what doesn’t to make sure you avoid repeating their mistakes and losing money on ineffective digital marketing strategies.

To help you make the process of competitor analysis more structured, you can use this table for future reference:

Competitor #1

Competitor #2

Company Characteristics

Name

Name

  • Number of employees
  • Years on market
  • Budget
  • Clients
  • Investors
  • Acquired brands
  • Number of customers

Conclusion (strengths and weaknesses)

Target Audience Information

Niche

Niche

  • Primary audience
  • Secondary audience
  • Target audience
  • Means of communication with the audience

Product Information

Software features

Software features

  • Product
  • Product details
  • Pricing
  • Customer reviews
  • Product strengths
  • Product weaknesses

Points for improvement

Conclusion

Conclusion

  • What my business lacks
  • Solutions

Keep in mind: prices, dates, and other information that you include in the competitor analysis should be localized, using local currency, date formats, etc.

3. Target Your New Audience with International SEO

For an e-commerce business, it’s extremely important to remain reachable and available, especially when entering foreign markets. Digital marketing can be a great solution here, specifically, if you do search engine optimization for the international audience.

Doing international SEO will help you make your e-commerce business more accessible for the international audience, as it involves a few techniques you can incorporate to help your new audience find you faster.

1) Making an SEO-Friendly Domain

First and foremost, you might need to think about making a separate website for the new market if it’s big enough. This is necessary not just for proper SEO, but also to improve the overall experience with your brand.

When choosing the domain for your international website, there are two options you can choose from:

  • Country Code Top-Level Domain (ccTLD) – ends in a respective country code (e.g., .co.uk, .ru, .by)
  • Generic Top-Level Domain (gTLD) – is not country specific but can be paired with different classes of organizations (e.g., .net, .com, .org).

How to choose between these two?

Your primary concern should be search engine optimization. While the second option tells a search engine that your domain is more neutral, ccTLD helps a search engine recognize that your website targets a specific location.

The choice will depend on the size of your e-commerce business and your needs. But you also have to keep in mind that, according to a study, people outside of the U.S. also prefer ccTLD domains over gTLD domains. This is also an important point to consider when doing SEO for your international digital marketing strategy.

2) Optimizing for Different Search Engines

Google might be the most popular search engine in general, but when it comes to a particular country, this might not be the case.

For example, if you plan on expanding your e-commerce business to China, you should choose from one of the preferred search engines for the Chinese audience:

Image credit: Statcounter

Here, it also important to think about the type of domain every search engine gives preference to. For instance, Baidu prefers ccTLD over gTLD, while it is not as big of an issue for Google.

Also, you need to take into consideration the habits that your international audience has when it comes to online search, like online queries and keywords.

3) Target Language Keyword Search

Speaking about keywords, it is one of the most important parts of international SEO, as you will not only use them to make your website easier to find for your international audience but also will incorporate them in your content marketing strategy.

You can start doing keyword research using the search engine that is popular in the region.

For instance, if you want to expand your e-commerce business to France, and the preferred search engine in this region is Google, you can enter different queries relevant to your business and your product and see what the top results for these queries in the target language are. Particularly, pay attention to the “People also ask” section:

However, this method may be quite time-consuming and may not give you the results you’re looking for. To speed up the keyword research process for your target audience, you can use tools like Ubersuggest.

Let’s say you’re looking for the keyword academic writing services company in French. Simply enter this keyword in the target language, and you will instantly get the list of related keywords:

You can also review the websites that appear in the search results for this query and crawl them to find even more keywords:

Always do keyword research in the target language right away. This way, you’ll only get the results natural for the target language but also will have the precise list of keywords that your international audience uses when searching for certain queries.

4. Diversify Your Content Marketing and SMM Strategies

While doing international SEO as a part of your digital marketing strategy is necessary, it’s not enough to get the attention of your international audience.

Luckily, there are other digital marketing strategies that can help you achieve that. In particular, content marketing and social media marketing have proven to be the most effective.

Let’s take a quick look at how you can employ these approaches in your digital marketing strategy to attract the attention of the international audience:

  • Make your e-commerce blog multilingual. Your task is to not only successfully enter the foreign market, but also establish your authority as an industry leader. There is no doubt that you will face some heavy competition, but having a blog in the target language will help you to build authority faster.
  • Invite local experts to contribute. For instance, you might partner with local bloggers who can write the review of your company and product, similar to this Trustmypaper review. This way, you will quickly get access to a niche audience in the foreign market through an expert or an influencer.
  • Ask for user-generated content. You can connect with your foreign target audience through social media, and ask them to contribute user-generated content. This content can also become a great foundation for your entire digital marketing campaign.

Apart from the above-mentioned ideas, you can also create separate social media accounts with content only for your international audience.

IKEA is a great example of this strategy in action. The company has several YouTube channels, each with content created specifically for a certain region:

Video credit: IKEA France

You can also find IKEA accounts for different countries on Instagram. Notably, the company also uses its Instagram accounts to support the causes of each particular country:

Image credit: IKEA USA

When entering the new market, your e-commerce business will have to face a lot of competition. But if you dedicate a part of your digital marketing strategy to important causes that your international audience can relate to, all your efforts will pay off.

By using smart tools like Conversific you can gain powerful insights into your customers, features like their insightful analytics data dashboard and fine tuned filtering you can segment your customers enabling you to learn from your audiences, see how they behave differently, country to country basis.

Over to You

Entering a new market is quite an adventure. And if you want it to be a successful one, you need the support of your international audience.

Luckily, with today’s possibilities, you can turn to digital marketing to win their attention, but make sure you approach your digital marketing strategy methodically.

Study your new audience first and build a buyer persona. Then, figure out their online search habits and optimize your entire marketing strategy, including your website and content, for international SEO.

Lastly, target your international audience with relevant and engaging content. You can partner with local experts and influencers, but make sure all your content is optimized for your international audience and that you’re speaking the same language.

What was your experience with entering international markets? Which digital marketing strategies worked best for you?

Share your knowledge with us in the comments!

Leona Henryson

Leona Henryson

Leona Henryson is a freelance writer and UX designer for online learning sites for students including Top Writers Review. Also, she is a contributing writer for various marketing blogs. When she is not writing or designing, Leona is trying to balance her multiple hobbies including hiking and watching movies.

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