5 ways to improve international marketing processes

By | November 7, 2019

At the end of September, we held our second International Search Summit in Boston. There was a lot of great knowledge shared by the speakers and some themes which tracked throughout the day in many of the talks, so I thought I’d share some of them here. Number one is always have a global mindset. When you’re working in an international business, or one that’s considering expansion in the future, you must approach every project, campaign, and piece of work from the perspective of scaling it into multiple languages or markets. This was a key piece of advice from Leona Frank from Autodesk when she explained that it’s much easier to localise a 30-second video, than a 30-page whitepaper and that infographic data that is relevant in one market, might fall flat in another. Not everything has to be localised; in some cases each market will create content from scratch but consider how you plan to use a piece of content before you start work, not as an afterthought. Number two: Develop templates and frameworks to empower local teams. For large organisations with in-country teams, the balance between global and local can often be a challenge. Advice that both Mellissa Jensen from Cisco and Cheryl Burke from New Balance gave was around creating frameworks and templates. By managing page templates, URL structures and the like at global level, you can ensure that the site is technically correct, that you have global consistency and follow best practice while then allowing local teams to apply their insights to the specific content and keywords. This advice was also echoed by Bill Hunt, whose missed opportunities presentation contains examples of serious SEO fails by global brands, caused by a lack of common template. Number three: Knowledge sharing and education is key. Digital marketers are no strangers to the challenge of explaining the business value of SEO or social media to the board or senior managers who just often don’t get it. Sharing this with wider teams around the world is also essential to get them on board with your efforts and bought into contributing. Mellissa explained that she spends around one-third of her time talking to people about SEO, its value and how they can make an impact with it. Equally, Cheryl’s team at the headquarters in the US created a playbook and resource library which was shared with global teams to help them understand what can be achieved with SEO, and of course how to do it! Such practices, while time-consuming at first, bring long-term rewards and make it easier to roll-out new programmes, manage global campaigns and of course deliver the all-important business growth. Number four: Localise, don’t just translate and replicate. This is a drum Webcertain has been banging for 20 years, yet it’s still surprising how many requests we get to translate keywords or ads. Blas Giffuni demonstrated very clearly why this can be problematic when he showed that there are 22 different ways to say popcorn in Spanish! People don’t speak like a dictionary; they describe things in different ways and of course different countries with a ‘common language’ do not share all the same words! Simple translation both misses opportunities and potentially alienates or even offends the audience you really want to reach! And it’s not only words you need to think about. Colours and images might not have the same meanings or connotations in every culture. Annalisa Nash Fernandez delved into the topic of culture and shared examples of how associations we have to colours can impact our behaviour and the action we take – almost subconsciously! But these subtle details can really affect how users respond to and engage with your content. And number five: Geo-targeting and hreflang is still a big challenge for many. I’m not going to try and share any of the insights and suggestions around this topic here; it’s a whole video series in itself! But just know that if you’re struggling with this, or finding that you’re not always seeing the results you want from your geo-targeting efforts, you’re not alone! Bill Hunt and Andy Atkins-Krüger both gave talks going into more detail on this, and the Q&A with Gary from Google included numerous questions on this as well. You can sign up to Webcertain’s training platform to access all of the slides and video recordings from the International Search Summit Boston, so head over there now following the links below to get more ideas, tactics and insights on these topics, and much much more!

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