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Five Laws for International Marketing Success in 2013

By Liz Elting

Adotas - December 21, 2012

In 2012, if you didn’t accommodate shoppers using mobile devices or personalize your online content for individual visitors, it wasn’t a crime. However, those retail trends were so pervasive last year, they might as well have been required by law for all retailers. As we move into 2013, there are several new developments retailers should respect as if they were international edicts.

Law No. 1: Create actual content, not just keywords. Online retailers have taken a perfunctory approach to search engine optimization by peppering their copy with contrived keywords and neglecting to craft content that conveys a clear message to visitors. The days of getting away with that are over. Around the world, Google and other leading search engines reward companies that produce quality content by ranking them higher in search results, and consumers reward those same companies with their business. Make sure that once your target audiences find you online, there’s a reason for them to stick around. Give them localized, well-translated, high-quality material.

Law No. 2: Let your customers buy what they want online and pick it up in person. Major retailers like Walmart and Best Buy have pioneered this activity, which lets consumers get all the convenience of online comparison shopping and purchasing, without the shipping fees or wait times. eMarketer expects this trend to increase by 54 percent in the next four years, so get your strategy together now. Make sure you have localized your store details into consumers’ target languages, so they can easily find hours and directions on the site. Further, if international shoppers are coming to your global store locations, make sure the in-store experience lines up with local customs. For example, Walmart’s presence in Germany struggled because the chain didn’t understand that German shoppers prefer to bag their own purchases and have been using their own recyclable cloth bags for generations.

Law No. 3: Learn how to talk to digital natives. Today’s young adults grew up on social media. They are a digitally native generation that is entirely comfortable using mobile devices and social networks to determine where they spend their disposable income. A recent report by Scarborough Research showed that consumers between 18 and 29 years old are 60 percent more likely than other groups to share purchase information on a social media network. These consumers post reviews, download apps, tweet about brands, and comment on each other’s purchases. To reach these millennials, make sure you’re offering a seamless brand experience across all social media platforms, and make that experience available in the languages of your target markets.

Law No. 4: Move away from banner ads and toward sponsored stories. Native advertising was a big trend at the end of 2012, as more companies phased out display advertisements in favor of sponsored content on social media platforms and media websites. That will continue into 2013. Outlets from Facebook to The Atlantic are offering these opportunities now, and marketers should pay attention. Accurately translated and localized ads have always been crucial, but the copy is even more essential now that it is doing double duty as sponsored content. Make sure your native ads capture your brand identity and appeal to local consumers.

Law No. 5: Trumpet local customs and national pride. Consumers around the world embrace international brands, but they are also eager to celebrate their own cultures. They will respond positively when they see their traditional preferences, local customs, familiar design elements, in your marketing materials. This approach is especially powerful in the recently designated “BRIC” countries – Brazil, Russia, India and China – where local pride is on the rise. As with all international marketing, this law requires accurate translation and localization to promote authentic culture.

Some of these laws might not apply to every marketer, but anyone reaching out to an international customer base in 2013 needs to be aware of these trends. The most successful marketers will craft their campaigns to appeal to targets with smart content, on preferred devices, in high-traffic outlets and with localized, translated appeal.