Did you know non-US markets represent 84% of the world’s purchasing power? If you’re only marketing within your borders, you’re missing out on significant revenue. If you’re looking to expand into global markets, many companies underestimate how hard it is to market in a new locale.
For example, one common misconception is that translating your marketing content is all it takes. The reality is that each target market has its own unique set of opportunities and challenges that factor into deciding the right approach, and lots of activities are involved.
First, research is essential. People around the world have different needs, motivations, preferences, buying behaviors, and values. If you don’t understand your audience, your brand may fail to thrive or, even worse, offend your target market. Extensive research helps you make sure your strategy aligns with that specific audience. It can be a good approach to develop a specific buyer persona for that new market.
Standardization means that you use similar marketing approaches across markets, countries, and cultures. Some companies have a lot of success with global standardization, whereas others get better results with localization.
Ultimately, this depends on the product, the audience for that product, and whether the product and messaging translates as is (figuratively speaking) into the new locale’s culture and market.
Let’s take a look at four brands that have gotten it right.
Airbnb: Software internationalization meets local storytelling approaches
Airbnb, based in San Francisco, is a community marketplace for people to list and book accommodations around the world. As of this writing, Airbnb has over 1,500,000 listings in more than 34,000 cities worldwide. Their website is available in 62 languages. When factoring in dialects, they offer 91 languages in total on their website.
Their localization strategy begins with software internationalization (i18n), including building an internal platform to manage functions for all the target languages in order to minimize any additional engineering changes required before localization, and from there moves into localization activities. They accomplished this at scale by creating their own translation tools, augmented by machine learning, and they used centralized data to understand audiences in different locales and tailor local offerings.
Two other notable ways they drive connections with their global audience include:
Providing a toggle button accessible from the globe icon on their website that automatically translates descriptions and reviews to English
Working with local photographers and content creators for authentic locale-specific marketing content
Overall, their localization strategy boosted key metrics for their users, including boosting the rate of occupancy, daily rate average, revenue available per room, and average length of stay.
Booking.com: Doubling down in China
Booking.com calls itself the world’s leading provider of online travel and related services.
They are an $86 billion conglomerate that offers lodging reservation services for approximately 2.7 million properties, including 400,000 hotels, motels, and resorts and 2.3 million homes, and apartments in over 220 countries.
They feature 45 languages on their website. Booking.com is putting massive bets on China. They are projecting growth of around 25% in 2023 based on increased travel by that market.
Chinese users want to have a ‘one-stop’ travel app where they can do everything from purchase to track baggage. The Booking.com app now accepts mobile payments with Chinese payment services such as WeChat Pay, Alipay, and UnionPay. They also plan to launch a Chinese version of their “Booking Assistant” chatbot. Booking’s app is preinstalled on Huawei smartphones.
Booking.com created a customer loyalty program specifically targeted at the China market. The company teamed up with local bloggers and key opinion leaders to drive awareness of their service. They took advantage of local holidays (e.g., Lunar New Year) to run marketing campaigns.
Pearse Trust: Establishing international brand authority
Pearse Trust – recently acquired by another firm, Hawkford – is an international authority on corporate and trust structures. They provide wealth management services, focused on clients who trade in international markets. Their global marketing approach features:
A blog that engages various markets by featuring international affairs related to the company offerings in 5 different languages. Their high-quality, authoritative content about banking and international affairs, provided in foreign languages, establishes authority and trust
Digital PR placements in publications local to each market that it serves
Content specific to each locale (localization) and balanced interests common across all of its markets (standardization)
Emphasis on their global reach: they highlight the fact that they have 440 professionals across 10 locations and clients from 115 countries. They are global, which gives them credibility and powers their ability to service the global community. They also show their cultural diversity and humanize their brand by noting that their exceptional people are from Asia, Europe, and North America
Alibaba: Creating massive growth by building operations in over 200 countries
Alibaba is a commerce company based in China. The brand had international expansion in mind from the start: its founder, Jack Ma, chose the name because it would be easy to pronounce across the globe.
Alibaba and its sub-brands, especially AliExpress, connect shoppers around the world with Chinese products, brands, and manufacturers/suppliers. What’s interesting about their global marketing success?
They have enabled operations (including shipping) in over 200 countries, representing the world’s largest market space online
Key takeaways: top strategies for global marketing
While these four brands don’t appear to have much in common, all four have achieved success with strong global marketing plans. What should we learn from them?
All show evidence of a keen understanding of their buyer – content is locale-specific, and features are adapted for the local market
They focus on user experience by localizing their apps and their websites
They leverage customer data and research to tailor their strategies
They all have a trustworthy brand image, tailored across multiple locales
They know that software localization is essential – your product needs to ‘work’ in another language, without bugs or user friction
They employ local content marketing strategies, which enables those brands to provide their markets with useful, relevant content that builds trust in the brand
International marketing is challenging and many don’t get it right, but with the right approach it can lead to enormous business opportunities and growth. These four companies serve as excellent examples for businesses looking to develop an international strategy and expand into new international markets.
Now that you’ve learned more about what’s involved in a global content marketing strategy and what brands are really good at it, you may want to get started on your own strategy to ensure a successful launch in any market.
At Acclaro, we simplify what may seem like a complex process to help you scale global growth and create lasting value for your customers. We’ve created strategies that help the world’s leading companies succeed across cultures, and we’re ready to help you create yours.
Want to learn more about how Acclaro can help you achieve your business goals? Get started today.