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9 Tips for Excelling at International Digital Marketing

9 Tips for Excelling at International Digital Marketing



The internet has changed how we enter new markets, and it has dismantled barriers to acquiring international consumers and business buyers. Here we discuss how you can craft a successful international digital strategy with the aim of scaling your business beyond borders.

Let’s start with my 3A’s

  1. Access: Being able to reach international markets online
  2. Appetite: Customers’ preference to source and purchase online
  3. Ability: The abundance of technologies and tools to support international expansion strategies

How exactly can these 3A’s lead to success? The essential ingredients include (but are not limited to):

  • Audience definition: Arrive at a crystal-clear understanding of the market’s needs, preferences, and behaviors. Is there a demand for what you have to offer?
  • Competitive research: Define the competitive landscape, clarifying market trends, potential gaps for a product or service, pricing, and appetite. Is anyone else providing what you have to offer?
  • Local norms: Take the time to develop a clear understanding of local norms and cultures. Select and test tactics to reflect local behaviors and preferences.
  • Influencer research: Make sure to iidentify local influencers who align with your brand and target audience. Partnering with influencers not only allows you to leverage their reach and credibility; it helps you build trust within the local market. Their informed take on your product and how they position it with their audience can help frame your local messaging and approach.
  • Performance measurement: Track and analyze performance metrics and adapt based on your findings.

Getting started with international marketing


Some key tools for testing include Google Trends, Keyword Planner, Facebook advertising data, and Analytics to identify demand, competition, and trends for a given product or service in different regions. 

For insights into local interests, you can also use SEMrush, BuzzSumo, or Ahrefs.

For more nuanced insights into local norms and preferences, you can tap into local business groups and associations, as well as advisory groups from your own country.

And… my secret sauce

Tools and tactics in my secret sauce include:

  • Trade groups
  • Enterprise bodies
  • Embassies
  • International business networks

In my experience, you get back even more than what you put into these usually pro-bono business networks. However, you do have to be willing to do some work to engage these networks which can be time consuming.

Tip: Don’t overlook the obvious leads. Find (and ‘interrogate’) colleagues in your company who may be from, or know, the markets you are targeting.  Speak to your sales team. They may know of customers already operating in your new target market. And, I have yet to find a business person who doesn’t like to share their experiences –  so long as you’re not there to ‘eat their lunch’!  

Finding your first customer in a new territory

In my experience, one of the most common ways businesses enter new markets is through existing customers. So, find out from your sales team or other contacts if any of their customers have offices or operations in the new territory you are targeting. In fact, this can often be the easiest way to expand with minimum effort and will provide you with a local early-case study to give confidence to other new customers in that location.

The importance of language

Don’t be fooled by the ‘illusion of similarity’. Even a common language does not guarantee similarity of interpretation. Be mindful of the nuances of regional dialects and idioms, as well as the cultural weight of different phrases and words.

And do remember to translate and localize your website, ideally through a professional agency that understand the relevant differences and design implications. For example, text on a German website is typically  40% longer than that on an English language site. You’ll also need to take into account local currencies and local payment preferences, such as the use of mobile payments in India and many other countries. And, of course, you must comply with local regulations including data-collection and financial obligations.

9 Tips for Your International Digital Marketing

Here are my top 9 tips for success when entering international markets.

1. Words

Remember, we don’t all speak the same language, even when we speak the same language. For example, in Canada and the U.S., people purchase ‘cans’ of tomato sauce, but, in Britain and Ireland, they purchase ’tins’ of it.

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