An international marketing plan is fundamental when your company is planning to expand and enter new markets. But what are the strategies you should implement? And how to create brand awareness in other countries?
There are many questions that must be answered before facing the market expansion of a business. Let’s see how you can adapt your marketing plan to make it effective at international level.
Steps to create an effective international marketing plan
Implementing an international marketing plan requires a prior analysis of the situation. Although it may seem like common sense, it isn’t always so.
Companies often assume that if they know the market of one country, they know any other. But it doesn’t necessarily have to be that way.
The socioeconomic situation of a country, finding the right niche, the maturity of the market you want to enter… There are many variables that can differ from one country to another.
A preliminary analysis of the situation is very useful when defining an international marketing plan.
Step 1: Know your target audience
If knowing your audience is key to target them at national level, it’s even more important when expanding to other markets. You need to get familiar with the interests of your target audience. Digital tools such as Google Trends can help you to learn more about the interests of inhabitants of a specific country.
However, you shouldn’t forget that depending on the country, Google may not be the main search engine. Therefore, check the usage statistics first as they will allow you to refine your research.
It may also be useful to consult the results of market studies and opinion polls among the inhabitants of the country to which you are addressing your marketing plan.
For example, if you are targeting a European country, Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union, can help you discover relevant aspects of each country and its citizens.
You need to get to know your audience before being able to reach out to them.
Step 2: Investigate your brand
You might think you already know everything about your brand. But put it this way: do others know it? It isn’t the same to introduce a well-known brand in a new country as it is to introduce a completely new brand or service.
If they already know it, you should pay attention to the perception that users have of it, since this will provoke one type of action or another. You should also check the name of your brand. Does it mean the same as in your country?
Many brands have been forced to change their name in a particular country or change the name of a product because it had a different or negative meaning in another language.
Another aspect to bear in mind is legislation. It obviously depends on the sector, but expanding to a new country can be complicated if there is tighter legislation in that country than in your main market.
Find out if you need to adapt your services, terms and conditions, data protection etc. before entering a new market.
Step 3: Learn from the competition and distinguish yourself
It’s of vital importance to be aware of the competition’s movements. Investigate what they are doing and learn how to differentiate yourself. Highlight what makes you unique such as price, user experience, product quality etc. Look for your competitive advantage.
To discover this you can conduct a SWOT analysis for each new market you want to enter. It will help you to define the steps you have to take before launching abroad. SWOT stands for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.
Step 4: Set objectives
Another element for a successful international marketing plan is to have clear objectives. Think about what you want to achieve.
You might want to increase traffic to your website, to create brand awareness among new markets or to increase your turnover. There are many possibilities, both quantitative and qualitative.
Whatever you choose, the important thing is that your goals are S.M.A.R.T. (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Timely).
By setting objectives you’ll be able to measure and evaluate the results of your international marketing plan. This will allow you to check if your strategy is working or needs to be adjusted.
Your objectives should be specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and timely.
Step 5: Make your website internationally oriented
Having a website aimed at different markets is essential to achieve your aims. The international website will help you boost your company’s branding abroad while attracting new customers.
You can choose to duplicate your website in a new language. But it’s recommended that beyond the language, your international website is completely adapted to the markets you want to target.
An international website will help you boost your company’s branding abroad and attract new customers.
One of the best strategies to capture new leads through your website is to create fresh content and implement an Inbound Marketing strategy. This means creating specific content to accompany your client in the different stages of the buyer journey. The AIDA model can help you to define through which stages a potential buyer has to go before becoming a client.
Measuring is nearly the most important aspect of the international marketing plan. Only this way you’ll know if your strategy is working or not.
Therefore, it’s necessary to set the timing in which milestones are planned to be reached and the deadlines to achieve it. In case these deadlines are not met they might be unrealistic or it’s necessary to adjust your actions.
Despite the case, measuring everything is key to make sure your international marketing is working. After analysing the results you will be able to set new objectives or add new strategies to achieve your goals.
Tools to measure your marketing actions
To measure the adjustments you make on your web, Google Analytics is one of the fundamental tools that will give you valuable information about your website’s traffic.
You can complement Analytics with the use of tools such as Hotjar, which will help you discover how users behave on your website and assess the user experience.
Hubspot can help you implement your Inbound Marketing strategy and track leads through the conversion funnel.
There are many digital marketing strategies that you can use for the market expansion of your company. But by creating an international marketing plan, without leaving anything to improvisation, your chances of success will multiply.