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
Elizabeth Pokorny
Reviewed by
Updated on
June 11, 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:

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

What is International Marketing?

International marketing is the process of planning and executing the conception, pricing, promotion, and distribution of ideas, goods, and services to create exchanges that satisfy individual and organizational objectives across national borders.

It involves tailoring marketing strategies and tactics to fit the cultural, economic, and legal nuances of diverse international markets, aiming to effectively reach and engage consumers in various countries.

What Are the Benefits of International Marketing?

International marketing, as a specific subset of broader international business strategies, offers distinct benefits focused on the promotional and customer engagement aspects of global operations. Here are some of the top benefits of international marketing:

  1. Broader customer reach: International marketing strategies enable businesses to connect with customers across different countries, significantly expanding their audience beyond local or national boundaries.
  2. Increased brand awareness: By marketing in various countries, a brand can increase its visibility and recognition on a global scale, leading to greater brand equity.
  3. Insights into customer preferences: International marketing efforts provide valuable data and insights into diverse consumer preferences and trends, which can inform product development, innovation, and customization for different markets.
  4. Opportunities for innovation: Exposure to different markets and customer needs can inspire innovative marketing strategies, campaigns, and product features that can set a brand apart on the global stage.
  5. Building a global brand image: Consistently marketing and selling across borders helps in building a cohesive and strong global brand image, which can attract customers and foster loyalty on an international scale.
  6. Cross-cultural learning and adaptation: Marketing internationally encourages businesses to learn from and adapt to different cultures, enhancing their cultural competence and ability to engage with diverse audiences effectively.

What Are the Biggest Challenges of International Marketing?

Marketing internationally presents a unique set of challenges that can vary widely depending on the target markets, the nature of the product or service, and the size and resources of the company. Here are some of the biggest challenges:

  1. Navigating cultural differences: What works in one market may not resonate or could even offend in another. This extends to language, customs, values, and consumer behavior.
  2. Complying with local regulations and laws: Each country has its own set of rules regarding advertising, product standards, privacy, and data protection. Navigating these legalities can be complex and requires thorough research and sometimes local legal counsel.
  3. Building brand recognition: Establishing brand awareness in a new market without the benefit of local word-of-mouth or a physical presence can be difficult, especially against established local competitors.
  4. Adjusting marketing strategies: A strategy that's successful domestically may not work abroad. Marketers must adapt their strategies to fit local preferences, which might mean changing product offerings, marketing channels, or messages.
  5. Resource and budget constraints: Expanding into international markets requires significant investment in research, localization, and marketing campaigns.
  6. Understanding local competition: International businesses must contend with local competitors who have a deeper understanding of the market. This requires comprehensive market research to identify competitive advantages.

How Does International Marketing Differ from Global Marketing?

While international marketing may sound interchangeable with global marketing, the two are indeed distinct.

In short, international marketing focuses on adapting marketing strategies to cater to the diverse needs and preferences of different countries, whereas global marketing emphasizes creating a unified, standardized marketing strategy that applies across all international markets.

Here’s a more in-depth overview of how they differ from one another:

Table comparing the differences between international and global marketing

Further reading: How to Create a Successful Global Marketing Strategy

Key Marketing Strategies for Each International Market Entry Method

International marketing strategies often need to be tailored according to the type of market entry strategy being deployed because each approach has unique opportunities, challenges, and requirements.

1. Export Marketing

Exporting involves selling goods or services produced in one country to another country. It's often the first step businesses take to expand internationally due to its lower risk compared to other entry strategies.

Here are some international marketing best practices for this context:

  • Market research and segmentation: Understand the local market demands, preferences, and cultural nuances. Tailor your products or services to meet these local needs.
  • Distribution strategy: identify and establish relationships with local distributors or agents who have a deep understanding of the local market.
  • Promotional strategies: Adapt your advertising and promotional efforts to align with local tastes, cultural norms, and languages.
  • Pricing strategy: Consider local purchasing power, competition, and import taxes in your pricing strategy to ensure competitiveness.

2. Joint Venture Marketing

A joint venture involves a partnership between a domestic and foreign company to create a new entity, sharing resources, risks, and profits. It allows for significant market penetration through collaboration.

Here are some international marketing best practices for this context:

  • Collaborative marketing planning: Work closely with your local partner to leverage their market knowledge and networks. Develop a marketing strategy that combines the strengths of both entities.
  • Brand positioning: Decide whether to market your product under the local brand, your brand, or a combination of both. This decision should be based on brand recognition and reputation in the market.
  • Cultural integration: Ensure that your marketing efforts respect and integrate local cultural values and practices, potentially blending your home country's brand identity with local preferences.
  • Compliance and legal considerations: be aware of local laws and regulations affecting marketing and advertising practices.

3. Licensing Marketing

Licensing allows a company to permit another business in a foreign market to use its intellectual property, such as patents, trademarks, or technology, in exchange for a fee or royalty. This strategy minimizes risk and investment while enabling market entry.

Here are some international marketing best practices for this context:

  • Brand control: Maintain control over how your brand is presented and used by licensees to ensure consistency and protect your brand's reputation.
  • Support and training: Provide licensees with the necessary support, guidelines, and training on your brand's marketing and promotional strategies.
  • Performance monitoring: Regularly monitor and assess the licensee's marketing efforts and outcomes to ensure they meet agreed standards.
  • Local adaptation: Allow for some level of adaptation to the licensee's marketing and promotional activities to better fit the local market while ensuring they align with your brand's overall image.

4. Franchise Marketing

Franchising involves a franchisor granting a franchisee the right to operate a business under the franchisor's model and brand. It's a strategy to expand rapidly with a relatively lower capital investment from the franchisor's side.

Here are some international marketing best practices for this context:

  • Standardized marketing materials: Provide franchisees with standardized marketing materials and guidelines to ensure brand consistency across different locations.
  • Local marketing initiatives: Allow franchisees to undertake local marketing initiatives to cater to the local market's specific needs within the framework of your brand's overall marketing strategy.
  • Training and support: Offer comprehensive training to franchisees on your brand's marketing strategies, including digital marketing, sales promotions, and customer service.
  • Quality control: Implement quality control measures to ensure that all marketing efforts by franchisees align with your brand's standards and values.

5. Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) Marketing

Foreign direct investment involves a company directly investing in the business infrastructure in another country, such as by establishing business operations or acquiring business assets in a foreign country. It represents a high degree of involvement and commitment in the foreign market.

Here are some international marketing best practices for this context:

  • Market entry strategy: Develop a comprehensive market entry strategy that includes an in-depth analysis of the target market, entry timing, and scale of investment.
  • Local brand development: Invest in building a strong local brand that resonates with the local culture, values, and preferences while maintaining the core values of your global brand.
  • Customer relationship management: Focus on building strong relationships with local customers through customer service excellence, loyalty programs, and community engagement.
  • Local partnerships and alliances: Form strategic partnerships and alliances with local businesses to enhance market penetration, brand visibility, and customer reach.

Read more: 9 Foreign Market Entry Strategies You Should Know

3 Examples of Successful International Marketing Campaigns

This section highlights a collection of standout international marketing strategies that have propelled brands to global recognition, offering valuable lessons on adapting and thriving in the competitive international arena.

1. Coca-Cola

CocoCola's German Website

Coca-Cola is an excellent example of international marketing done right. Take its German website, which is fully translated and uses vibrant colors and text to make it appealing to a design-conscious German audience.

Coca-Cola has also introduced products tailored to the German market's tastes and preferences. This includes the introduction of Coca-Cola local brands like Mezzo Mix (also available in Switzerland and Austria).

2. Dunkin Donuts

Dunkin Donuts coffee in the background with overlaid text: At Home Brewing Packaged Coffee

Dunkin Donuts, a hugely successful international brand that knows how to market itself on a global scale, is another example of how to market your offering internationally.

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.

3. McDonald’s

McDonalds' "Les Mercredis à lire" campaign

Another great example is McDonald’s international marketing campaign in France. In France, primary school-aged kids don’t go to school on Wednesdays. 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.

Read more:

How to Get Started With International Marketing

Your ‘why’ for entering the international market will likely vary from other business owners. Consequently, no two international 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 – International 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 international 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

Defining your local presence as part of an international marketing strategy involves establishing a tailored, resonant brand image and operational footprint within each target market. This process is critical for global brands seeking to maximize their appeal and effectiveness in diverse cultural and economic landscapes. Here’s how you can define your local presence effectively:

Here are a few considerations you’ll need to make:

  • 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 as part of the planning ahead of launching a localized marketing strategy. That way, you can identify any potential pitfalls and plan for them.

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

Step 3 – Customize Your International Marketing Mix

After doing some research, you may need to adapt your marketing activities. These include the four Ps: your pricing, products, promotions, and place.

Getting these aspects right will allow you to better connect with international markets in the foreign countries you’re selling to.

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 an International Audience

Your starting point for creating content that speaks to your target audience should be creating a multilingual website containing relevant, translated content. However, manually translating your website so you can market your offerings internationally 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?

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!

But 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.

Alongside 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

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


1. What Role Does Technology Play in International Marketing?

Technology plays a crucial role in international marketing by enabling businesses to reach global audiences through digital marketing channels, social media, and e-commerce platforms. It also facilitates website translation, market research, competitor analysis, customer relationship management, and the adaptation of marketing strategies to different markets.

2. How Important Is Language in International Marketing?

Language is vital in international marketing as it directly impacts communication with your target audience. Marketing messages need to be accurately translated and localized to ensure they convey the intended meaning and appeal to local tastes and cultural norms.

3. Can You Use the Same Marketing Strategy in Multiple Countries?

While some elements of a marketing strategy can be standardized across countries, it's often necessary to adapt strategies to reflect the local market's unique cultural, economic, and legal environments. This approach, known as "glocalization," combines global branding with local marketing tactics.

4. What Are the Legal Considerations in International Marketing?

International marketing must navigate various legal considerations, including copyright and trademark laws, data protection regulations, advertising standards, and import/export regulations. Understanding and complying with these laws is crucial to avoid legal issues and fines.

5. What Is the Difference Between International Marketing and Cross-Cultural Marketing?

International marketing involves marketing products or services across national borders, focusing on global market entry and expansion strategies. Cross-cultural marketing, on the other hand, emphasizes understanding and addressing the differences in consumer behavior and preferences across cultures within or across countries.

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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