How to Succeed in your International Marketing Efforts



Here at Zen Media, not only are we based all over the world, but so are our clients. We have clients from Texas to Thailand and we pride ourselves on delivering the best marketing services for them no matter where in the world they are. But how do we ensure that the marketing we’re doing for a client will be successful in their market, if we’re here and not there?

There are several steps to take when working on marketing efforts for a client in an international market. Here are some of our best tips on how to best optimize your efforts for success overseas:

Understand Your Native Culture

Before you can really start understanding another culture and adjusting your marketing efforts to fit it, reevaluate your own. What are you not noticing that you should be taking into account? How would others see your culture from the outside looking in? Take some time to look at the average consumer in your culture and their marketing patterns. Which platforms are most popular and why? What is trending and why? Which social media strategies and content strategies are doing well for increasing conversions? Why is that?

Understand the International Culture and Behaviors

Based on what you learned about your native country, now you are ready to do an assessment on the international market you are hoping to infiltrate. Instead of being the native, now you really are on the outside looking in. Ask yourself the same questions you did in your last assessment of your native culture and behaviors. Why are some platforms used more than others? What is popular and trending?

What are the Laws and Regulations?

Many countries have laws and regulations regarding how certain things are marketed and advertised. Products for example, in some countries, go through a stricter vetting process than here in the US. While in the United States, agencies may freely attest to a product being the “best” or “top-rated,” in some countries certain authorities need to sign off on whether or not this is okay; in some places in the world for example, before a pharmaceutical company advertises, they must go through an approval process with the government health authorities.

Take your time to look up the laws and regulations in the Region or country where you are hoping to expand your marketing efforts. Look for anything documented that other businesses and companies may have run in to so that you can learn what not to do from their mistakes. In fact, feel free to take it a step further and look into getting in touch with them to see how they handled the situation.

Learn the Language

Just kidding. We knows it’s not entirely possible to learn the language of the country or region where you’re moving your marketing efforts, but it’s important to communicate to your new customer-base in the language they operate in. We recommend starting different social media channels for different languages so as not to confuse customers in different parts of the world. For example, if you have an English Facebook and Twitter account, and are marketing in Spain, we recommend starting a Spanish Facebook page and Twitter account.

Design for the Locals

People in different cultures respond different to different designs. For example, different colors in different cultures may signify different meanings. In the United States and other Western cultures for instance, the color red often symbolizes danger, where in China, on the other hand, it symbolizes luck. It’s important to take these cultural understandings of design into account when you’re assessing a new market because doing so can help to increase your audience engagement.

Optimize with Local SEO

Just like certain social platforms do better than others in some regions, so do certain keywords. Make sure that when you’re assessing a foreign market, you’re also taking into account how SEM may differ in that region. Which keywords will be best to use for high optimization? Search engine optimization is something that a lot of companies work hard to achieve but when bringing marketing efforts to international markets, it’s easy to lose sight of the work you’ve done locally and drop the ball. Don’t. Just as you’ve seen conversation rates increase from your marketing efforts with SEO locally, you will also see them do well internationally. But how searchers operate will be different—so do the research.

Look at Who Else Has Done It

In your local market, you would see what your competitors were doing, wouldn’t you? We encourage you to do the same when you’re preparing to market to an new, international market. And you don’t just have to look at your competitors specifically, but just look at other companies that have had success in international markets; UPS, AirBnB, Coca-Cola, and McDonalds are just a few companies to look at when it comes to clever international marketing strategies. We also like to look at how Pinterest has worked to infiltrate the Japanese market and how Instagram has does the same in Kuwait.

Ask for Help

Infiltrating an international market isn’t easy. It can be intimidating, especially if you don’t have the budget to not do it right the first time—and let’s be honest, most companies don’t have the budget or the time for that. Here at Zen Media, we have successfully strategized for marketing campaigns all over the world. We’re happy to have a discussion in the comments below on our blog about what else you can do to succeed internationally. If you’d like to have a more in depth conversation, please feel free to get in touch with us directly!


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