International marketing

How to win with international marketing (what it is, and tips for success!)

How to win with international marketing (what it is, and tips for success!)
Elizabeth Pokorny
Written by
Elizabeth Pokorny
Elizabeth Pokorny
Written by
Elizabeth Pokorny
Reviewed
Elizabeth Pokorny
Reviewed by
Updated on
January 30, 2024

Have you been wanting to take your business into the global marketplace? Great. Because an international marketing strategy is imperative for running a successful online business—especially if you want to build customer bases in other countries. 

With the rise of globalization and the internet, running a worldwide online business has never been easier. There are so many opportunities for brands just waiting to be unlocked and monetized. 

When you think about the boom in online marketplaces, easy-to-install multinational payment gateways, and speedy delivery services available…it’s no wonder many major companies are going global. And those that do seem to grow faster than those that don’t. 

Not convinced? These figures might change your mind:

  • East Asia now boasts 867 million internet users (a 12% increase from last year)
  • Facebook processes 2 billion translations a day
  • Facebook’s reach is highest among Mongolia and Libya, which are largely non-English speaking countries

So, how do you actually go about international marketing? For starters, let’s define it:

International marketing is any commercial activity that promotes or facilitates the movement of goods, services, resources, people, or ideas, across national boundaries.

With all that in mind, let’s explore the best way to become a full-fledged international business. Let’s dive in!

Why should you become a global company?

There are plenty of advantages to stepping onto the international business stage. 

Most notably:

  • You’ll extend your reach and unlock a potentially broader market
  • International brands carry a prestige that provides a boost in reputation
  • When you expand your business, you’re more likely to increase your market share
  • You’re more likely to broaden your professional network, which could open doors to new opportunities
  • Franchising opportunities are much more available

…Just to name a few. 

International marketing: first things first

With the rise of independent eCommerce stores and borderless marketplaces, competition has definitely gotten rougher over the last decade. 

While it’s true that new brands can expect an enthusiastic welcome by consumers in foreign markets, that isn’t guaranteed. The last thing you want is to enter global markets on a whim without any preparation.

The solution? A well-thought-out international business plan.

However, for many small and medium-sized organizations building an international marketing plan for the first time, this is often a daunting task. More so if you don’t have the expertise, resources, or budget to launch and manage these kinds of marketing campaigns.

It’s also important to nail your domestic marketing plan before you go global and engage in international marketing. You’ll have a basis of what works, what doesn’t, and what you can potentially take with you to your foreign markets.

What is domestic, global, and international marketing?

In the simplest terms, domestic marketing refers to marketing efforts and campaigns aimed at an audience within a home country. International marketing refers to the same in multiple countries, and global marketing refers to marketing strategies applicable across the world.

Domestic Marketing: A successful domestic marketing plan puts emphasis on understanding the local market and adding local context to your brand experience within national boundaries. However, it’s not to be confused with localized marketing. This involves adapting and customizing how you market products, brands or services to a particular region to offer a better customer experience. It also helps you build deeper, more interactive relationships with your target audience. Think of it as the optimization of your brand within a select market.

Localization has proved to be useful to all kinds of businesses. Just take a look at Netflix’s localization strategy, which is the reason for their international revenues surpassing their domestic revenues. 

International Marketing: We’ve already established that selling to international customers brings you multiple benefits. Remember to research your audience, be mindful of local government policies, localize all aspects of your website (including reviews, payment options and hreflang tags) and make your brand assets and content translation-ready. Take Coca-Cola’s German website for instance, below. It is fully translated and uses vibrant colors and text to make it appealing to a design-conscious German audience.

CocoCola's German Website

Further reading: Weglot’s top tips to market to international customers 

Global Marketing: This marketing plan can include multiple localized marketing strategies for multiple regions. Like any international marketing campaign, it’s important to consider legal policies and do your research thoroughly beforehand. Get started by using our guide to global marketing, which outlines the possible challenges you might face and examples of strategies that have helped global brands!

Read more: 10+ top global businesses with successful marketing strategies

Where to begin with international marketing

Your starting point should be creating a multilingual website. However, manually translating your website can be both timely and costly. 

That’s where an easy-to-use plugin like Weglot comes in handy. 

With just a few clicks, Weglot makes translating your website a breeze. Its hybrid approach to automatic and human translation helps you provide the best possible content to localized audiences. Plus, you can even invite team members and hire professional translators to assist you from inside your Weglot Dashboard. Handy, right?

Creating an international business strategy

Your ‘why’ for entering the international market will likely vary from other business owners. Consequently, no two global marketing strategies will ever be identical – each will have its own approaches, goals, and launch plans.

For instance, one entrepreneur’s motivation might be to test the waters with a foreign distributor. For another, it could be selling to different countries that all speak the same language.

Here’s some advice you can use to form your international marketing plan:

Step 1 – Market Research

Gain a broad understanding of the local and cultural markets. This means clarifying your customers’ needs and consumer behavior so that you can tailor your global marketing strategy to suit them. 

You’ll also want to identify any potential competition, both local and non-local. Evaluate what they’re doing well. More importantly, analyze areas where they’re lacking so that you can capitalize on that. 

International markets have different buying habits, needs, demographics, preferences, and priorities than your home market. Therefore, tracking these differences is critical to informing your decision-making and pinpoint the best way of reaching your audience. 

Step 2 – Define your local presence

By ‘defining your local presence,’ we mean deciding the following:

  • Whether you’re going to open a subsidiary or build local partnerships
  • How you’ll handle product development
  • The delivery strategies and companies you’ll employ
  • Whether you’ll need to find and use local suppliers

And so on.

At this stage, it’s also worth assessing the status of both local online and offline infrastructure. That way, you can identify any potential pitfalls and plan for them. 

Step 3 – Customize your international marketing mix

After doing some research, you may need to adapt your marketing activities. These include your pricing, products, and promotions to better connect with the target market in the foreign country you’re selling to. 

Take Dunkin Donuts as an example. They’re a hugely successful international brand that knows how to market itself on a global scale. For instance, Dunkin Donuts UAE sells packaged coffee you can brew at home. This is an important part of Arab culture, so the company has successfully molded its product to suit local customs.

Another great example is McDonald’s. In France, kids don’t go to school on Wednesday. So McDonald’s decided to run an offer: kids get a free illustrated book with every Happy Meal they purchase on the first Wednesday of the month. The books change every month and are carefully selected from the works of big French publishing houses.

Clearly, using local channels for marketing, communication, and adapting your content are all imperative to any international marketing strategy. Don’t forget to factor in your social media marketing plan and choose the right channels to reach your audience. As we explain in our ultimate guide to international social media, it’s crucial to choose the right platforms and pay attention to the nuances needed to reach a global audience in a personalized manner. This brings us nicely to step four…

Step 4 – Invest in content that speaks to the local audience  

Localization doesn’t just mean translation! Instead, it’s about creating content that’s relevant at a local level in their native language. It is also conscious of different cultures.

Translation is more than just text. Besides language, you should consider the target area’s values and aesthetics, political and cultural differences, and local business practices. Then, be sure to reflect that in your content.

It’s also a worthwhile effort to set and follow certain international SEO guidelines. These include translating your metadata, including a language indicator in your URL structure, and using multilingual keyword research

At Weglot, we’ve already helped several global companies grow their brand beyond their national borders – Deliveroo, Microsoft, and Bluetooth, just to name a few!

Weglot makes it frictionless to reach new markets and connecting with local audiences. How, exactly?

As a website translation software, it does the legwork for you. Not only does it translate and display your entire website into multiple languages, but it offers editing features to fine-tune each translation, combining the best of both machine and human translation. 

It’s also equipped with collaborative translation management features, so you don’t need to worry about working on your website all by yourself. Through your Weglot Dashboard, you can easily invite your team members to review the translations and make sure they’re optimized for your international audiences. 

Worried about making sure your audience accesses the page localized for them? The redirection feature automatically displays pages in your audience’s language based on their browser settings. 

Step 5 – Review your KPIs and adjust your international marketing strategy

Review your KPIs quarterly. This helps manage your expectations in how long it’ll take to reach your overarching business goals. 

With these figures at the forefront of your mind, be proactive. Prepare a backup plan if things don’t go as planned—there’s always something unexpected that happens, after all. 

It’s not uncommon to hit a few road bumps when you first go international. You might struggle to brand yourself at the local level or communicate effectively with international customers. Whatever the obstacle is, don’t give up. Just look at the data, and allow that to fuel whatever steps you take next. 

When you’ve got your international marketing plan for your current offerings mastered, it’ll be much easier for you to launch new products.

Are you ready to kickstart your international marketing efforts?

In summary, your organization’s international marketing strategy needs to synchronize with your domestic marketing. Expanding internationally is a smart move for marketing managers looking to strengthen their business at its core. It also does wonders for improving brand awareness and taking advantage of an almost borderless economy. 

Developing an international marketing strategy may seem intimidating. But when you’re adequately prepared, willing to adapt, and equipped with the right digital marketing and localization tools, you’re on the path to success.

Excited to enter the global market? Give Weglot’s free trial a go and see just how easy it is to set up a multilingual site in minutes.

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