The world’s a big place, but it’s made significantly smaller with digital technology and social media so it’s no wonder brands are finding it easier to reach new audiences overseas.
We only have to look at Coca Cola and Walkers crisps to see the potential success of going global when done properly.
An international success of our own is taking fastjet from start-up to household name in three countries across Africa over the past 18 months, with more new country launches in the pipeline. We’ve learnt a lot along the way about how to penetrate new markets, from the importance of understanding cultural differences and buying drivers to the impact that social and technological infrastructure can have on how people consume media and engage with brands.
If your business has mastered the UK market and you’re thinking about going overseas, take note of our Top 5 considerations before you jump in head first.
Customers differ from country to country – your integrated social campaign that generated a 25% increase in web traffic and conversions here in the UK may fall flat on its face somewhere else. While at home your brand positioning and tone of voice might be bang on in engaging your audience, in another country it could potentially offend or get lost in translation.
Conduct thorough market research into the customs, cultural preferences and reference points of your intended customer-base. What TV programmes do people watch? Do they like art, music and fashion? What do they do in their spare time?
Who are the key influencers? How do they engage with social media? Do people shop online or mostly offline in store? What devices do they use?
For example, 32% of fastjet customers in South Africa and Tanzania access the internet via their mobiles, with smartphone ownership outnumbering computers and tablets. The most popular devices are the more basic models so we have to optimise content for these platforms, bearing in mind apps, image and page load times, website navigation and much more.
We use the this checklist as a framework for our research and to get to know customers’ buying drivers and habits.
Carry out a full assessment on your brand logo, visuals, colours etc. Will it make sense to overseas markets, and does it have any connotations other than what you intend?
Do you need to consider any other languages?
Whilst ideally you don’t want to change your logo or brand name, you might consider having a different slogan for different countries to better engage customers (the content of which can be driven from your market research into cultural trends and buying drivers).
Don’t assume that your competitors overseas are the same as here in the UK. It’s just as important to understand your new competitive market as it is to get clued up on your new customer-base so you can position your brand properly within the mix.
What are other companies doing and are they doing well? Do they have a strong social presence and what is their digital / content strategy? What are their offline marketing efforts and how successful are they? Are they working with key influencers and are there publishing opportunities for you to exploit here down the line?
Use the insight gained from your competitor analysis to inform your launch strategy and beyond, gaining where others have failed, and avoiding mistakes already made.
Understanding the technological infrastructure is crucial to your success. There’s no point building an all-singing-all-dancing HTML 5 website if your core audience accesses the internet on mid-range smartphones with limited technical capabilities.
Use the checklist above to conduct research into internet and computer access, social media platforms and devices used to access them. Do people make purchases online and how do they pay?
For example, fastjet’s customers predominantly use their mobiles to search for and book flights, but are able to pay later (within a certain time period) via cash or credit card at one of the offices or online. This makes it as easy as possible for customers to purchase their flights with the technological infrastructure and cultural preferences in mind.
Once you’ve completed your market research and audit you’ll need to pull together your multi-channel marketing strategy from the insight gained. Write a concrete launch plan and activity calendar, integrating any key dates or cultural events where possible to maximise coverage.
Make sure your website has a healthy backlink profile with good, well-structured and formatted content, and ensure it’s optimised for mobile platforms – don’t make your brand inaccessible to the millions of mobile web users every day.
Once your website structure, content and responsive design is sorted, write yourself a winning social media strategy to generate brand awareness and exploit the highly targeted advertising opportunities available to increase reach and engagement.
As part of an interesting and consistent multi-platform social media content strategy you’ll need to consider paid advertising through Facebook ads or Twitter Promoted Tweets/Trends to boost exposure and grow followings. An integrated email marketing campaign and blog content strategy will also tie everything together and maximise your digital presence.
Just as you would do at home, make sure you closely monitor the brand reception and sentiment, as well as campaign success and conversions. Is your campaign working? If not, change it.
Hopefully you will have decided on the metrics to measure success when you first set out your goals and KPIs, and set up listening and scheduling tools to keep notified of any brand mentions or conversations you should be getting involved in.
Stay up to date with news, events and cultural trends in the country you’ve launched your brand in, and where possible integrate your own campaign activity into these dates to keep your audience interested and engaged, and your brand relevant.
Getting the above elements right could be the difference between boom and bust, so it’s important to get the research and strategy nailed from the outset.
If you want to showcase your offering, convert more leads, provide resources, or all of the above, we can build a website that separates you from the competition.