Marketing is increasingly international, which means tailoring your campaigns to the ways different cultures respond to DM. Four experts share global targeting tips
VP of marketing, Experian CheetahMail
To successfully engage a global audience, today’s brands must send individualized and relevant communications that each unique customer type can identify with and understand.
Creating an ongoing dialogue across international boundaries goes beyond language translation and touches upon every aspect of a country’s culture, such as social norms, expectations, preferences and level of technical advancement. Within the e-mail channel, testing and segmentation help overcome cultural barriers and engage international audiences.
To start, time of day and day of week testing should be put into action right away. Local time zones must always be taken into account. Throughout the world there are variations in standard working hours, which affects the times customers check their e-mail. Local holidays, popular vacation times and even days that make up the weekend differ across cultures.
Creative is another important consideration. Imagery or product placement seen as favorable by domestic customers may come across as unattractive or offensive in other countries.
For e-mail, even the ideal amount of content within the body varies greatly across international boundaries. For example, e-mail newsletters in the US tend to link to full articles rather than containing the entire text content, but in some other countries recipients expect all the content to be included. One company we’ve worked with altered the products displayed within its e-mails based on commonalities in a country’s search behavior. There are also strong deviances in the number of times per week that customer segments in different countries prefer to be contacted.
The bottom line is that there is no single best practice for global e-mail marketing. By using data to your advantage and continually testing all facets of your international campaign, you’ll not only learn to speak the language your customers understand, you’ll discover the messaging strategy they will respond to.
Test all facets of your international campaign to discover the right strategy
SVP, director of consumer insights, Universal McCann
Over the past 20 years, the rule for media communications planning has been that the best global plan is the best regional plan. That largely remains true. You need to make sure that everything is totally in line with that.
The first level of research should be channel research. It’s important to understand which touchpoints will resonate most with a consumer in that particular marketplace.
Work with a research agency and the client to test creative and messaging. You need people that respect the local culture, but you can do research globally. There are various rules — don’t show feet in Thailand, for example. You have to respect the local customs.
Privacy laws are specific to local markets, so you have to go and get local advice. You also have to be respectful of laws related to alcohol, smoking, gambling and children.
Overall, don’t assume things. Rather than just looking at one medium like digital or direct mail, look at the full spectrum of media because you will see differences in the power of channels that you didn’t expect to see.
In Europe, for example, Germany has been much weaker in digital than other countries. And leading technologies like mobile are much further advanced outside of the US. I think most people would be very surprised how far advanced the UK is in that area.
And in China, for instance, sports sponsorships are really strong. So a Formula One sponsorship, which you might think would be very powerful in Europe because that’s where it was born, is in fact much stronger in markets like China. Any country that had the Olympics would be proud of them, but China would be particularly proud of them because of the role that sports sponsorships play in that culture.
You should first research which touchpoints will resonate in a specific market
Before AOL launched Platform-A in Europe, we talked extensively to advertisers there about what they needed. And the common refrain was this: “Give us simple solutions that will help us build brands and sell our product online.” It’s the same thing we heard from advertisers in the US and in other countries. Even in our incredibly diverse world, what advertisers want appears to be consistent.
It makes perfect sense. Around the world, advertisers face largely the same set of challenges: audience fragmentation, increasingly complex technology and uncertainties regarding how to achieve their marketing objectives online. Online advertising networks should be aware of this common need as they build their global platforms and technologies.
Simultaneously, advertising is a people business, and reaching customers in the right way, with the right message, and at the right time requires a detailed understanding of local language, customs and cultural norms. Language issues are equally important when it comes to search marketing and keyword selection. Vernacular that’s appropriate in the US may not have the same meaning in other countries.
How consumers respond to ads can vary dramatically as well. In some countries, consumers are much more likely to respond to performance-based ads than they are to branded advertising.
Also remember that while the US is more conservative in terms of messaging, in other markets consumers are comfortable with racier ads. So, if you follow US norms in these markets, your ads might be overlooked.
It’s a cliché, but when it comes to being successful as a global advertising business, it is true that you need to act globally and think locally. That means offering advertisers a unified approach that meets their need for reach, richness and relevance, while helping them tailor their campaigns for the specific needs of each market.
Act globally with a unified approach, but think locally by tailoring campaigns
Chief client officer, Wunderman
In global marketing, you can go to market with strategy messaging and communications content that is uniformly driven. But it’s important to keep in mind that everything that generates a piece of revenue happens locally.
Focus on understanding the regional and local consumer, how to engage with that consumer and in what channels. Media channels used in different parts of the world — whether digital, event, broadcast or print — can vary enormously. For example, mobile is quite large in markets like India and China.
It’s important to have people on the ground that are rooted in the local culture — that have lived and worked there all their lives. These marketers still must have a global mindset, but also understand the local data sources and media market.
Privacy and data protection are also part and parcel of everything global marketers need to consider and evaluate. We’re very much proponents of opt-in as a general principle. It is not only essential legal practice, it is good marketing. It’s also a way to learn which consumers want to receive your messages, how they want to receive them and through which media they want to receive them.
To make global campaigns more cost efficient, identify and use your assets — like an original online experience. Last year, we took a campaign originally built in Australia, then adapted and developed it for 45 markets. All the programming and software had already been done. The savings were enormous. Best practices can also be identified and shared across markets.
There are also audiences that are global in nature. If you think about youth today and their exposure to trends, entertainment properties and behaviors, you find huge amounts of correlation. Help your clients tap into these similar trends. Focus on driving everything from local insights upwards to a big global insight on which you can build.
Media channels used in specific global markets can vary greatly