Thinking global means you have to act on the needs of localized markets. Pic: Pixabay

Going global: Best practices when marketing to audiences in different countries

MARKETING can be a complicated beast, especially when talking about going global. There’s a lot of psychology involved with accurately targeting your messaging, in order to attract and hold the right attention. Beyond that, you also need to ensure your product or service is top quality, as well as have the ability to engage the customer throughout the sales cycle.

This takes time and effort, and globalizing your brand will involve additional complexities. We’ll discuss a few best practices in running a global marketing campaign.

Localize your brand

It might sound counter-intuitive to localize when you want to reach a global audience. However, localizing content is one of the most important requirements in ensuring global reach.

Localizing does not only mean translating content into different languages. It also means you need to have enough research and information on the local customs and context before even attempting to target a marketing campaign.

SEE ALSO: When in Rome: 5 reasons why you should localize web and app content

International businesses have encountered setbacks due to improper localization – sometimes with embarrassing results. For example, Pepsi’s cultural gaffe when it first launched in China involved a marketing slogan that mistakenly translated ‘Pepsi brings you back to life’ to ‘Pepsi brings your ancestors back from the grave’.



Even color theory plays a big part in messaging across different countries. Yellow might stand for cowardice and deceit in the west, but it represents bravery in Japan.

To avoid translation blunders, you can focus on symbol-based branding. An established symbol is recognizable everywhere, and often negates the need to translate the messaging from one culture and language to another.

A key practice here is to focus not on the branding, but rather on the brand story. No matter the industry, you can communicate a compelling narrative targeted specifically for the audience, which will better resonate with the local market. People engage better when they can relate with a story.

Optimize infrastructure

One thing that businesses often fail to recognize is the wide variance in infrastructure capability and availability across the world. The clearest example is the difference in broadband speeds across Asia. South Korea has the highest average connection speed at 20.5 Mb/s, while the Philippines lags behind with 2.8 Mb/s, according to Akamai.

For digital brands, this means you can reach out to audiences with faster connections with more ease, especially with rich content like videos. Marketing in countries with slower Internet access might require alternative means of sending the message across. After all, it only takes a few seconds for prospective customers to lose interest in an app or website before they go elsewhere.

One possible solution here is to deploy your service through a distributed infrastructure, such as a cloud host, along with a content delivery network. These will host and cache content across servers and nodes located in different countries, thus ensuring speedy access to users no matter where they are. Distributed infrastructure will also help mitigate threats like DDoS attacks and traffic spikes, which can otherwise cause downtimes.

Support local preferences

Did you know that cash is still the preferred mode of payment for many e-commerce customers in SE countries like the Philippines, Indonesia, and Burma? For a digital business, this might throw a wrench in the works, especially if your platform is optimized to receive payments through credit card or other online payment processors like PayPal.

Apart from such nuances, one must think of logistics and the availability of support in different time zones. One solution is to partner with logistics providers in the targeted countries. You can also deploy customer relationship management tools with modules meant for handling country-specific concerns.

SEE ALSO: Hong Kong startup delivery app Lalamove receives $10m with help from Thai investor

Adhere to local regulations

Doing business in certain countries may require certain regulatory approvals or accounting procedures. For example, many countries do enforce certain rules on data and information.

Hong Kong, for example, enforces strict opt-in rules for direct marketing, meaning individuals must give explicit consent before data can be used for such activities. In addition, personal data cannot be transferred across third parties without consent. This might be limiting for businesses that usually market through direct email.

Many marketers resort to old-fashioned direct mail marketing in many countries in Asia. Pic: Wikipedia

Many marketers resort to old-fashioned direct mail marketing in many countries in Asia. Pic: Wikipedia

Other countries might have differing rules and regulations, so your marketing activities should be sensitive to these – lest you incur hefty fines or consumer backlash.

The takeaway

These tips are practical ways to look at the “Think Global, Act Local” concept. Expanding your business across borders means you will need to adjust to the needs of different markets – which is even more important for digital businesses. With easy access through the Internet and social channels, you need the ability to localize accordingly more than ever.