Behind every great brand lies a compelling story and a meaningful connection to their audience. But how do you tell that story and get your customers to relate to your vision when you don’t speak their language? We’ve all heard of product launches or ad campaigns that got badly lost in translation (see ‘Five times Google Translate went really wrong’!) and the effect can be incredibly damaging to the brand. At the same time, the opportunities to expand internationally are huge, with global retail e-commerce sales expected to increase by around 30% between now and 2024. Meanwhile, 72% of consumers say they spend most of their time on websites in their own language. So how can you begin to really understand your target audiences around the world? We’ve spoken to Clickoo, an agency specialising in localised paid media, to get their take on nailing your customer profile in order to successfully take your brand international.
Our first piece of advice when building international customer personas is to never assume anything. While it might seem the easiest option, we wouldn’t recommend simply taking your website, ad copy or paid media strategy and replicating it word-for-word in a new market. The way audiences think, behave and buy online can vary between countries much more than you think. Taking a localised approach means going beyond direct translation to make every element of your content feel as ‘native’ to the consumer as any local brand could be. Achieving this requires in depth research and a combination of first and third party insights, as well as a qualified native speaker of the language you’re targeting. But what are the main insights you should be looking for when putting together an audience profile?
Start close to home. If you’re branching out with an international site because you suspect some of your customers are already coming from abroad, have a look at your existing data on these users in Google Analytics or your CRM tool. Which channels are they coming from? Which languages do they speak? Do they use desktop or mobile? There’s a whole host of insights you can gain from your own first party data which can help inform the direction you take.
Next, or if you don’t have any existing data, begin looking at the bigger picture of the market you’re looking to enter. We’d recommend putting together a PESTLE (political, economic, social, technological, legal and environmental) analysis. This will allow you to see, for example, the internet penetration and infrastructure in a country, or to understand whether you need to adjust your pricing or positioning based on the wealth and economic situation of the nation. Have a look at competitors and don’t forget to check the local online marketplaces too – bearing in mind that Amazon isn’t always number one in this space, as in the Netherlands for instance, the biggest online store by far is Bol.com.
Another area to examine is psychographics, values and cultural insights. By accessing third-party survey data through providers such as Statista and Global Web Index, you can learn what drives your audience. Do they prefer free or fast delivery? Are they willing to pay more for environmentally-friendly products? What are the major holidays you should observe and even what are their working days of the week? In parts of the Middle-East for example, the working week runs Sunday to Thursday, contrary to the UK’s Monday to Friday.
It’s not only the language that varies in communications between different countries. The style, tone of voice and idioms may also need to be altered – does the audience you’re targeting prefer advertising to be explicit and direct or beat around the bush? You may have to consider whether you have puns or cultural references which cannot be translated directly. In paid media in particular, you’ll also have to deal with things like character limits in ad copy, which can be tricky with languages like German where words tend to be longer.
In fact we’d recommend doing even broader research into the digital profile of your new audience, taking into account things like platform use, time spent on social media, and typical customer journey. How do they tend to engage with brands? Some consumers, for example, may be more unwilling than your home audience to like or comment on your posts, or share personal data through lead forms, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re not interested in your product or service. Taking all these factors into account is important to make sure your paid media strategy, marketing calendar and content are all on point.
Essentially the winning formula for understanding your target markets around the globe boils down to sourcing as many insights as you can – demographic, cultural, psychographic, digital and more – and combining this knowledge with the native expertise of a local translator or marketing specialist. That’s how Clickoo has worked for over 10 years, and the result is localised paid media campaigns that truly resonate with global audiences, ultimately leading to long-term and sustainable brand growth, and a marked uplift in performance. If you’re ready to take your brand international through paid media, get in touch to find out more!