Expanding your business internationally has become more accessible than ever before. However, entering new international markets requires a well-crafted digital marketing strategy to stand out and thrive. Let’s explore how to maximise international market entry through effective digital marketing techniques that will help your business reach new heights.

Of course your online marketing strategy is just one factor contributing to your success, however in today’s increasingly digital world, it’s importance is growing almost by the day. Let’s face it, in most cases, the first thing any company or consumer who hears something about you will do is to search for you online so having a robust digital presence is important for that key “first impression”.

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Understanding International Market Entry

Before delving into digital marketing strategies, it’s essential to grasp the fundamentals of how to expand internationally and to have a strategy in place. There are many posts already on my blog which will help you with those fundamental building blocks, such as

Of course, you can also find many other posts on topics such as pricing policy, payment terms, contracts or logistics.

Research and Localisation

One key aspect of maximising international market entry success is thorough research. Understanding your target audience, local customs, preferences, and market trends is essential. That means you need to tailor your products or services to meet the specific needs of each market, ensuring that your brand resonates with local consumers.

Localisation goes beyond language translation though. It involves adapting your marketing materials, product packaging, and even your brand messaging to align with the cultural norms and values of each market. Doing so will demonstrate your commitment to understanding and respecting the local culture, which can foster trust and loyalty among international customers.

Keyword Research and SEO

To maximise international market entry, you must optimise your digital presence for search engines in each target market. Conduct keyword research in multiple languages to identify the most relevant search terms. Incorporate these keywords into your website content, meta tags, and other digital assets. This will boost your visibility and attract organic traffic from diverse international audiences.

In addition to keyword optimisation, consider the technical aspects of SEO. Ensure that your website loads quickly and is mobile-friendly, as these factors can influence search engine rankings. Moreover, prioritise local link-building and backlink strategies to improve your website’s authority in each market. A robust SEO strategy can significantly impact your international market success by driving organic traffic and increasing your brand’s visibility.

Maximise International Market Entry Through Digital Marketing Strategy
Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Leverage Social Media Platforms

Social media platforms are some of the most powerful tools for expanding your international presence. Create profiles on popular social networks in your target markets and engage with local audiences. Share relevant content and adapt your messaging to resonate with each culture. Paid advertising campaigns on relevant platforms like Facebook and Instagram, or Naver, Xiaohongshu or Douyin depending on your location, can also help you reach a broader audience.

In addition to engaging with local audiences, consider collaborating with local influencers or social media personalities with a strong following in your target markets. These influencers can help amplify your brand’s message and connect with potential customers on a personal level, increasing your reach and credibility in the international markets you are entering. This is especially important in Asia right now where not only influencers (KOLs) but also micro-influencers (KOCs – key opinion consumers) are important.

Case Study: Starbucks in China

When Starbucks entered China, it used local social media platforms like WeChat and Weibo to connect with Chinese consumers effectively.

Social Media Engagement

Starbucks adapted their content for Chinese holidays such as Spring Festival, Qixi and the Mid autumn Festival and collaborated with local influencers like actress Tang Wei, who have millions of followers on Weibo.

Paid Advertising

They ran targeted paid ads on platforms to expand their brand’s visibility.

Results

Starbucks’ social media strategy in China, including content localisation and influencer partnerships, contributed to its success and established it as a respected coffee brand in the country, which is better known for tea than coffee.

international expansion explained

Content Marketing

Content is king in the digital marketing world. Those experienced in digital marketing, like Movers Development, put emphasis on creating high-quality, informative, and culturally sensitive content that addresses the needs and interests of your international audience.     

This could include blog posts, videos, infographics, and more. Regularly update your content to keep your audience engaged and informed. Remember that Asian markets, especially China, need far more digital assets than you would generally use in a European or North American country.

To further enhance your content marketing efforts, leverage user-generated content from your international customers. Encourage them to share their experiences with your products or services on social media and showcase these user-generated stories on your website and social channels. This builds trust and demonstrates your commitment to your international customers.

Email Marketing Campaigns

Email marketing remains a valuable tool for reaching international customers. Segment your email lists based on location and preferences to deliver personalised content. Craft compelling email campaigns that drive engagement and conversions. Don’t forget to localise your emails to ensure they resonate with the cultural nuances of each market.

Incorporate automation into your email marketing strategy to send triggered messages based on user behaviour and preferences. For instance, you can send personalised product recommendations or special offers to international subscribers who have shown interest in specific products or services. This tailored approach can significantly improve the effectiveness of your email campaigns in international markets.

Case Study: XYZ Fashion

XYZ Fashion, a global clothing retailer, uses email marketing to connect with their international customers:

  • Segmentation: They group subscribers by location (e.g., US, UK) for tailored content.
  • Localisation: Emails reflect local culture (e.g., US holidays for US customers, UK events for UK customers).
  • Behavioural Triggers: The system tracks user behaviour, sending personalised product recommendations when, for instance, winter coats are browsed.
  • Special Offers: Previous buyers receive exclusive discounts on items they’ve purchased before.

Localisation of Website and Apps

Make sure your website and mobile apps are user-friendly and fully localised for each target market. This includes translating content, adjusting design elements, and incorporating local payment options. A seamless user experience is critical to building trust and retaining international customers.

Consider tailoring your website and app content to align with the cultural norms and preferences of your international audience. This might involve using region-specific imagery, colours, and symbols that resonate with local consumers. Furthermore, conducting usability tests with individuals from the target market can help you identify and address any user experience issues specific to that region.

Pay-Per-Click (PPC) Advertising

PPC advertising, such as Google Ads, can provide immediate visibility in international markets. Strategising and allocating your digital marketing investments wisely is crucial to getting the most out of your PPC campaigns. Create targeted ad campaigns that align with your digital marketing strategy. Monitor and optimise your campaigns regularly to ensure you maximise your return on investment while finding effective ways to budget your investments.

To enhance the effectiveness of your PPC campaigns, consider running A/B tests to determine which ad copy, keywords, and landing pages perform best in each market. There’s no one size fits all jurisdictions solution! Also, take advantage of geotargeting to ensure your ads are displayed to the most relevant audiences. Continuously refine your ad strategy based on the data and insights you gather to achieve the best results in your international PPC efforts.

Collaborate with Local Influencers

Partnering with local influencers can be a highly effective strategy for international market entry. Influencers can help you build trust and credibility within the local community. Their endorsement can go a long way in driving brand awareness and sales.

Also, consider co-creating content with them that showcases your products or services in an authentic and relatable manner. This can include influencer-hosted webinars, unboxing videos, or tutorials that highlight how your offerings can solve real problems for the local audience. Building a genuine relationship with influencers can lead to long-term brand advocacy and sustained success in international markets.

Case Study: L’Oréal’s Chinese Beauty Influencer Partnership

L’Oréal aimed to establish a stronger presence in the Chinese beauty market, which is highly competitive and culturally distinct. They needed to connect with Chinese consumers and build trust in a market which is saturated and has a growing preference for local beauty brands. Let’s break it down:

  • Collaboration: They teamed up with Chinese influencers such as Gong Li, Yuchun Li or beauty influencer Austin Li, known for skincare and makeup expertise and a significant social media following.
  • Co-Creation: L’Oréal and & the influencers created content such as makeup tutorials showcasing L’Oréal products, addressing Chinese consumers’ specific beauty concerns especially on platforms such as xiaohongshu (little red book).
  • Live Engagement: the influencer team hosted live webinars and streams, interacting directly with viewers and building authenticity and trust.
  • Results: The collaboration increased L’Oréal’s brand awareness, went viral, boosted product sales, and led to long-term brand advocacy partnerships.

Data Analysis and Continuous Improvement

Finally, no digital marketing strategy is complete without data analysis. Regularly monitor the performance of your campaigns in each international market. Use analytics tools to gather insights and adjust your strategy accordingly. Continuous improvement is the key to long-term success in international markets.

Case Studies on International Market Entry

Case Study 1: Coca-Cola’s Localisation Efforts

Understanding International Expansion

Coca-Cola is a prime example of a company that has successfully expanded internationally. When they entered the Indian market, they introduced a “Share a Coke” campaign, customising bottles with popular Indian names. This tactic encouraged locals to gift cokes to family and friends, and the culturally sensitive approach helped them resonate with the local audience.

Localisation

Coca-Cola went beyond translation by adapting its branding to align with Indian festivals, incorporating local celebrities into their advertisements, and even buying regional brands like “Thums Up” to cater to Indian taste preferences. This level of localisation significantly contributed to their success in India.

Case Study 2: Airbnb’s Global Digital Marketing Strategy

Keyword Research and SEO

Airbnb invests heavily in keyword research and SEO. For instance, when they expanded into Japan, they conducted extensive keyword research to understand what Japanese travellers were searching for. They optimised their website to rank for these keywords, ensuring high visibility in the Japanese market.

Local Link-Building

Airbnb collaborates with local bloggers, travel websites, and influencers to improve its website’s authority in each market. These partnerships generate backlinks from authoritative sources, strengthening their SEO efforts and driving organic traffic.

Case Study 3: Nike’s Social Media Localisation

Leverage Social Media Platforms

Nike is a brand that excels in adapting its social media strategy for international markets. In China, for example, they have a strong presence on WeChat, China’s most popular social platform. Nike creates content tailored to Chinese culture, engages with local consumers, and runs targeted advertising campaigns on WeChat to effectively connect with the Chinese audience.

Collaborating with Local Influencers

Nike collaborates with local sports stars and influencers in various countries. In Brazil, they partnered with Neymar, a famous Brazilian footballer, to create content that resonates with local fans. This boosts their brand awareness and establishes credibility in the local sports community.

Case Study 4: IKEA’s Email Marketing Personalisation

Email Marketing Campaigns

IKEA, the Swedish furniture giant, uses email marketing effectively in its international expansion strategy. When they entered the Chinese market, they segmented their email lists based on customer preferences and location. They sent personalised emails that highlighted furniture designs tailored to Chinese tastes.

Localisation of Website and Apps

In China, IKEA’s website and app have a design and layout that aligns with Chinese aesthetics and preferences (no focus on building your own furniture!). They also integrated popular local payment options like Alipay and WeChat Pay, making it convenient for Chinese consumers to shop online.

Case Study 5: Amazon’s International PPC Campaigns

Pay-Per-Click (PPC) Advertising

Amazon is a global e-commerce giant that utilises PPC advertising extensively. When launching in a new international market, they allocate their budget strategically. For instance, when expanding to Australia, they ran PPC campaigns with keywords related to Australian shopping habits and preferences.

Data Analysis and Continuous Improvement

Amazon continuously analyses the performance of its PPC campaigns using robust analytics tools. They adjust their strategies based on click-through rates, conversion rates, and other metrics to optimise their campaigns and maximise their ROI in each new market.

Book Recommendation

If you want to read more case studies about how having a solid digital strategy can facilitate your international expansion, I’d highly recommend Nataly Kelly’s book: Take your Company Global

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If it’s specifically China you’re interested in, I’d recommend looking at Ashley Dudarenok’s books, for instance:

Ashley Dudarenok Working with Bloggers
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New Retail Born in China
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Maximise International Market Entry Through Digital Marketing

Now, it’s your turn. I’ve talked about a digital marketing strategy as a building block in international expansion explained. It is a complex yet rewarding endeavour. By conducting thorough research, localising your approach, and leveraging the power of digital tools and platforms, you can unlock new growth opportunities and establish a strong global presence for your business. Remember, success in international markets requires dedication, adaptability, and a commitment to delivering value to your international customers. Start today and watch your business thrive on the global stage.

Thinking that working with a consultant would accelerate your international expansion?

If you’d like to learn more about working with me for support on your internationalisation projects or personal export knowledge, you can book a 30 minute international clarity call here.

If you haven’t already signed up for my free e-book about how to select which international market to enter next, you can do so here, or using the form below.

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Kathryn

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2 Comments

  1. Thanks for sharing this helpful post!

  2. Very nice article, thanks for sharing

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