Going global: A quick guide to international digital marketing

Going global: A quick guide to international digital marketing header image

By Gary Viray

Globalization was once a dream for many of us who cannot afford to set up our own business in different parts of the world. That notion has changed as we are ushered into the digital era, where everything and anything can be accessed through the internet.

Having a solid digital marketing strategy is just the first step in conquering the global stage. Businesses looking to promote their brand on an international level can be risky, but it can yield a larger stream of revenue if done correctly.

However, joining the global mix isn’t as simple as declaring that you can offer services worldwide—changes must be made to your website and digital marketing strategy for this to work. Before you work on globalizing your brand, do your research and see if it will work out for you.

Ready? Let’s start!

Be decisive on your domain and website structure

Improving your website’s presence internationally is no different from how you do it locally. However, there are quite a few things to consider, especially how you present yourself to search engines. You need to make your website locally available, understandable, and relevant. The international SEO guide from Propelrr can guide you on how to tackle this, as well as how to move forward after re-organizing your website.

Here are some key takeaways from the guide:

Use country-specific TLDs (example.com.au)

Pros: This makes sense to implement as you’re serving an international audience; using Country Code Top-Level Domains or ccTLDs is an obvious indication that your business is available in that country.

Cons: Search engine optimization for these websites is hard to execute as you need to work on those sites individually.

Use subdomains (de.example.com)

Pros: Can also help in localizing a website—it’s easy for people to recognize the website as a local brand. Not only that, you can use local servers to host your site as an added bonus.

Cons: Suffers the same problems with managing a country-specific TLD. Moreover, some people type in www. before a website, so they may not be redirected to the correct subdomain.

Use different subdirectories or subfolders

Pros: Easiest and most inexpensive to implement across these three options. You can manage all your content in one place, and it’s easier to monitor in analytics platforms.

Cons: Less SEO benefit versus country-specific TLDs and may cause confusion for people who are more familiar with ccTLDs.

Boost your international search presence

Once you’ve decided which of these three methods best suits your international strategy, it’s time to move forward and promote your brand on an international scale.

How to get ahead with SEO

SEO doesn’t work uniformly across different countries. While search engines implement the same algorithm across all countries, each location has unique search quality evaluators that make it different in terms of languages and countries.

Here are some tips to start with your SEO campaign:

  • Aside from potentially restructuring your website, we recommend observing the differences in browsing habits. For example, Western websites have simpler navigation compared to Chinese websites that offer more options.
  • 4 tips for increasing your website’s page rank when you know nothing about SEO
  • How to own local SEO for your business—optimize on a hyperlocal level. It’s a new field for your pages out there. You need to catch up with your competition and even look at increasing external links from that locale.

Engage in social media

Managing your social media presence per country should be no different from your current, local strategy.

Again, it’s better to have a local team that understands the trends and quirks of your new target market. Here’s another blog post from Name.com on social media strategies that you can use to jumpstart your efforts.

Pump up localized content per country or region

One of the pillars of digital marketing is content marketing. Since you’re gunning for an international presence, it is a no-brainer to invest in localized content for each region and country you are targeting. Why? Because your content is meant to be consumed and truly understood by your audience.

Don’t use Google Translate—hire local writers. Google Translate doesn’t translate words semantically in a way that is understandable for locals. In translating content for your other assets, make sure they are careful with language variants. Some words change its meaning with a slight change in spelling. You don’t want to offend your visitors!

Branding: Play your trump card well

Digital marketing isn’t just a performance marketing play. In all its worth, digital marketing still needs to play its winning card, branding.

Tell your brand story and communicate the value you are building. Bring out those creative juices. Be relevant to the local market in the region you are targeting.

Bring your branding bible into the arena because you’ll need it, big time.

Use paid channel smartly

In most cases, you won’t initially be visible in your target markets. Use Google Ads or social ads on platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Content Discovery Network, LinkedIn, and all other high performing ad networks out there. The paid channel is your accelerator to be seen by your international market.

To bring things together for your international presence, you may want to use the digital marketing framework of Propelrr to put balance and order in your marketing plans.

Gary Viray is a tech entrepreneur, marketer, author, data analyst, and the Founder of Propelrr, a digital marketing and innovations agency. Brain-pick him on Twitter, @garyshack.