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4 Things to Consider While Marketing to a Global Audience

November 9, 2018

by Anthony Toronto

Digital Analyst, Interpreters and Translators Inc.

While the domestic market may suffice for some small business, there’s opportunity to expand internationally and improve growth potential. This article reviews the most important challenges marketers encounter when scaling strategies for international brands.

The benefits of going international can be huge. You can enjoy economies of scale, greater profits, and a larger customer base that increases the brand’s value.

However, it’s important to be aware that there are risks associated with launching a global marketing strategy for your company or even entering a new market with a product or service.

It’s important to have a solid strategy in place before expanding to a global audience.

Marketing Strategy Consideration #1: Finding the Right Countries

Deciding which market to enter can be a tough decision, but data makes it easier for marketers.

This data can often come through an analytics platform such as Google Analytics. If you see that a large portion of your traffic is coming from a certain country you’re not currently selling or marketing to, this may represent an untapped market you haven’t yet considered.

Seventy percent (70%) of the world doesn’t speak English. It might be a good idea to consider localizing content to these visitors if you're seeing significant traffic coming from other regions of the world. Take, for example, the dashboard below, which shows the national origins of a sample website’s traffic.

What are the top countries by sessions?

This data may offer valuable insights into whether you should consider localizing content for a country that is already visiting your website.

What’s more, there are marketing tools that are indispensable for “testing the waters” when considering where to market your company’s products and services: Google Trends and Google Ads.

Google Trends

Google Trends tracks interest via searches in a country over a given time period. The tool also displays trend information on its dashboard.

As the below screenshot suggests, Google Trends is a fantastic resource to gauge general interest via search terms from around the world.

Google Trends dashboard

If Google Trends shows a high volume of search terms across a targeted country, this may indicate demand for the product or service you’re selling and thus, an opportunity to adjust your strategy.

Google Ads

Not only is Google Ads (formerly AdWords) an ideal tool for selling products online, but it’s also great for determining if your product or service would sell in another country.

Instead of rolling out an expensive and costly campaign across your target market internationally, run a small Google Ads campaign with low daily budgets to test the results of your offers.

If there’s a high level of engagement with your ads on Google’s Search Network, then you may want to consider if the market is right for you.

Once you have campaigns running with Google Ads, use Google Analytics to view your ads’ performance.

Prior to the product’s launch, you can redirect users via ads to promotional discounts or an email sign-up page to curate a mailing list of potential customers. You can then later leverage the contact information through global marketing channels.

Marketing Strategy Consideration #2: The Product-Market Fit

The product-market fit means aligning the product or service to the right audience. This may seem obvious, but often a product that works in one country could completely fail in another one.

For example, there are countries that have dietary restrictions and preferences, and certain products are not commonly seen in their food culture.

For example, Chilean law restricts advertisers from targeting children under the age of 14 for foods that are high in calories and saturated fat. A company that makes assumptions about its target market may experience a misstep.

The goal of product-market fit is to isolate the best possible target market, understand the market’s needs, and deliver a solution with the product or service you offer. This is a simple concept but not an easy one.

The marketer or business owner needs to define what a good target market looks like. The ideal market will be easy to enter and have a significant potential user base with opportunity for growth.

Look to enter a market where people need a product or solution that your business can offer, as this scenario will make your marketing strategy more cost-effective.

Conduct a product-market fit analysis to determine if a given market is feasible. This analysis will help companies deliver on what those customers want.

Here are some digital techniques that a company can use to better understand a potential customer base.

Email Surveys to Existing Customers

Online surveys are a great way of understanding what your existing customer base wants. Leverage this feedback into delivering new and improved products to a potential global market.

Feedback from existing customers in your own domestic market can also aid this effort. Popular tools such as MailChimp make surveys easy to create and launch.

Then, use the data to optimize products for a global scale.

Online Focus Groups in International Markets

If your brand is spreading to an international market, consider engaging online focus groups to generate firsthand data around your customers’ preferences.

This is a valuable marketing investment because focus groups give you up-to-date insight into what your audience values.

Find the Right Product-Market Fit

Companies or individual marketers may resist the product-market fit approach because they realize they need to adapt their current offering to the area. Is your business supply-led or demand-driven? Keep in mind that the idea of a product-market change could be uncomfortable for some individuals in the company.

This trend creates a disconnect where many companies are too focused on global expansion for what they want to sell rather than what customers want to buy. As a marketer or business owner, consider implementing online surveys and focus groups to produce insightful in-depth data.

Marketing Strategy Consideration #3: Adapting to the Culture

It’s important to consider a market’s culture when shaping your marketing strategy. Culture should not be overlooked, as there are specific macro and microcultures that can influence your marketing approach and affect your business.

Macro Culture

Macro culture is the overall culture of the country. Language, traditions, and social structures are all aspects of the macro culture. It’s important to understand the various aspects of a culture before creating your marketing strategy.

Language is quite possibly the biggest cultural difference you’ll need to overcome. You’ll need to localize marketing materials and communicate in the local language.

When translating marketing materials, it’s best to avoid using Google Translate, as there are frequent translation gaps. I recommend working with a fluent speaker or a professional translation agency for best results.


Microculture is the sub-culture to which your audience belongs. Understanding native local cultures is key to a successful global marketing strategy.

An example of a company not respecting a specific culture occurred when Starbucks launched in Australia.

Starbucks had to close many of its Australian shops because it didn’t adapt its products to the specific Australian market. The Australian coffee market is huge and varied, with high-quality coffee a staple of most cafés.

Starbucks didn’t adapt its standard offering to the refined taste buds of the average Australian customer. According to the above CNBC article, Starbucks launched too quickly across the country and didn’t give customers time to build an appetite for its products.

The aggressive rollout and failure to adapt to the local coffee culture caused the Starbucks chain to close most of its stores in Australia. Now only a few remain in select cities.

Businesses need to research both the macro and microcultures of a country before expanding to it.

Marketing Strategy Consideration #4: Marketing Distribution

It’s important to know how you’ll roll out and distribute marketing content in the international market.

Below are two unique approaches you can take.

In-Market Marketing Distribution

This strategy relies on an in-market team to localize your marketing materials and make them suitable for a specific area.

For larger organizations, it’s not unusual to have a team that’s dedicated to managing the rollouts.

An in-market team can also choose which media are best for each campaign. For example, a team may primarily use one social media platform in one country but not in another.

Remote Marketing Distribution

In an international context, remote management occurs from the country in which the marketing operations are based.

For novice organizations, marketing distribution management from their home country can work well as a strategy.

Here are some of the mediums that can be managed from a home market:

  • Managing social media platforms
  • PPC advertising (e.g. Google Ads)
  • YouTube or video content rollout

Create a Global Marketing Strategy

Overall, it’s important to consider the opportunities and challenges that come with new market entry. Marketing plays a key role at every stage of planning and execution.

Global marketing strategies are notorious for being difficult and requiring years of work until they’re profitable. However, the problems can be manifold if you don’t speak to your audience in the right way.

Be aware of the risks associated with taking your company’s marketing strategy global.

Once you identify the countries you’re going into, the product-market fit, the cultural differences, and the marketing channels you’ll use, it’s time to build the global strategy.

This strategy will shape how you roll out across the market. The steps and best practices in this post should lead you to create a concise and strong marketing strategy. 

About the Author

Headshot of Robert AvdeevAnthony Toronto is a digital analyst at Interpreters and Translators Inc., a language solutions company that helps companies knock out language barriers. When not helping companies grow, Anthony enjoys hiking, sushi, and staring at computer screens. 


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