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Three things to consider when marketing abroad


You’ve established your product or service, tested the waters in local markets, proved a concept, gained market position and the profit is rolling in. The next stage of growth for many companies would be to begin laying the foundations to begin exporting and trading abroad.

But to really launch a product in a different territory, a clear marketing strategy and immediate awareness campaign will be required to speak to this new audience. And whilst it may be easy to consider rolling out the exact same campaigns and strategies that won your success so far in your business’ backyard, cultural nuances, advertising regulations and brand positioning within a new market will all require thorough consideration.

But below the headier decisions over whether the lead role in a TV advert campaign needs to be recast or if the tone needs to be completely reworked for a new audience, there’s an entire digital strategy that needs to be implemented too to capitalise on gained awareness.

Here are three key digital marketing areas that can often be overlooked when marketing abroad, and they ought not to be left to the last minute:

User Language Preference

This may seem all too obvious, but understanding what language your new audience is comfortable communicating in is important.

For example, it’d be more than acceptable to expand a marketing campaign to include Wales without adding Welsh translations to the website – to begin with at any rate.

However, moving into territories where English is the second language, it pays to add first-language translations to the website, and also ensure all marketing communications are in the native language.

Why does it matter if the audience can read in English anyway?

For two reasons. First, it shows your business genuinely cares about engaging with that audience, that you understand how they like to do things and you’ve tailored your marketing comms and website experience accordingly.

Second, it adds an element of trust – but only if translations are done to a native standard. No offer of a translation looks lazy and can instil mistrust – fatal to e-commerce businesses in particular. But poor translations look amateurish and will result in the same outcome.

Understand how your new audience likes to communicate and tailor your user experience accordingly.

User Device Preference

There’s a common phrase in modern website design called ‘mobile-first’ – the idea that digital experiences should be created with a view to the user’s experience when consuming content via a mobile device – over designing expansive desktop experiences and attempting to tailor them down for a mobile audience.

In reality, this does ring true overall and it makes good design and UX sense to create engaging mobile experiences on-top of desktop and tablet ones too. Mobile loading speed, for example, is a direct Google ranking factor. But it doesn’t hurt to understand where it is your new audience is likely to consume your content and engage with your brand online.

A specific area in which this may affect marketing approach is in the form of app marketing. For example, in a zone where mobile telecoms infrastructure is generally poor, the country is less developed or the general population doesn’t own the latest smartphones with fast internet access, going all-in with a new app into the market or proportioning big marketing spend into the promotion of said app may prove unfruitful.

Understand where your new audience lives online

Much like with the above, just because you’ve had great success reaching your audience via certain channels at home, doesn’t mean those same channels are going to prove fruitful when you start marketing abroad.

Why? Because those channels and platforms may not be where your new audience lives online.

The first platform that springs to mind is of course, which search engine are your customers using? Despite that on a global level, Google dominates this market with a 91% market or ‘search share’, that doesn’t mean there aren’t regional fluctuations.

For example, in Russia, Yandex RU holds most market share at just under 54%, followed by Google with 43%. In the Asian search market, Baidu and Yahoo make up over 4% of the market, whilst in Mexico, a tiny percentage of users still browse the internet using Ask Jeeves and MSN!

And don’t forget those smaller, less competitive browsers too. For example, Bing and Yahoo with a combined 5.2% worldwide market share shouldn’t be discounted, with the former often offering cheaper CPAs via its ads platform.

And also consider which social media platforms are most relevant for targeting this new audience as well. Whilst Facebook dominates worldwide with 70% market share, Twitter, for example, is far more popular in the UK than it is in the U.S. with 15% market share compared to 6%. In fact, Pinterest is the second major player across the pond with 23.5% market share.

You can start to target your target audience and understand how your current website is performing by introducing marketing software to your sales tools.

Overall across Asia, YouTube is the second largest player on 11%, whilst Chinese social users use Youku almost as much as Facebook.

If you’re expanding your business into new international markets and would like expert advice along the way, including with your digital strategy and new market research, we can help. Find out more here.

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