Why, Where, and How for Cross-Border Marketing

June 6, 2019

Once you've launched a cross-border e-commerce business in a new market, the next step is to figure out how to market to consumers in each region.  Without making an investment in marketing, you cannot reasonably expect shoppers to flock to your site and buy your products. More often than not, consumers need help finding your online store. Internet marketing platforms like Google, Facebook, Snap, Instagram and Pinterest are global businesses with incredible reach.  However, they are not all relevant in every global market. Many countries have their own local social media tools and platforms that customers use to shop, to communicate with brands, and to engage with customer service.

Primary Factors When Marketing To A Global Audience

It is important to understand that different markets will have different customer acquisition costs. Some markets have a high social media penetration that can bring down acquisition costs considerably. In contrast, some paid channels can be expensive and costs can add up quickly compared to other markets. For example, according to Google Keyword Planner, in May 2019, the average cost-per-click in the U.K. for the keyword "clothing" was $.84. In Canada this keyword coss a bit more on average, at $.98, while in Australia it cost $1.10.  When you consider the thousands of impressions and potential clicks, you may find that your spend in one country through AdWords is substantially higher than other markets. Recognizing that the cost of marketing can vary widely between markets is one reason why online merchants should consider establishing separate marketing budgets for different markets.

Customers have different cultural norms across regions and not acknowledging these differences in marketing imagery and copy could lead to a campaign missing the mark completely. For example, imagery is an important to localize. In some conservative countries it is more appropriate to feature imagery of products in marketing materials in lieu of lifestyle imagery, particularly featuring women. In countries where showing lifestyle marketing imagery, it is important to consider showing images that reflect the local audience and their cultural habits. For example, a marketing image or reference to a certain sport might make sense in one market, but in another market it might fall flat.

Social media varies widely from country to country as do messaging apps. While certain social platforms are widely used in Western markets, other channels are more popular in other locales. For example, while Facebook and Instagram are the most popular social networks in the U.S. in China WeChat is the dominant mode of communication between consumers and brands, and in Canada the most widely used social network and consumed media is on YouTube.

It's interesting to note that some social and marketing platforms may be used for different types of sales communications in different countries. For example, in Afghanistan, Facebook and Facebook Messenger has become a selling key tool for local retailers to take online orders for delivery in addition to driving foot traffic. WhatsApp has recently rolled out their WhatsApp Business app to connect business with customers as shopping habits increasingly move to messaging apps. This app is available in Brazil, Germany, Indonesia, Mexico, the U.K. and the U.S., and it will be interesting to see if adoption of the app among businesses and shoppers will grow in the coming months leading up to the holiday season.

Understanding which platforms to use to get in front of consumers in each market you enter is essential. Do your research in the new markets you plan to enter and find out which channels can reach the widest audience for your brand in the most cost effective way.  This will help you to determine your marketing budget for each global market to ensure cross-border success.

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