As businesses grow, it can be a good idea to branch out into additional markets. Sometimes, that means looking into international marketing and expanding globally.
However, breaking out into international markets can be a bit intimidating. How do you know where to start? And what is the best way to set up your international marketing strategy? Throughout this article, we’ll further explore what international marketing might mean for your business, go over a few best practices, and introduce you to a few well-done international marketing examples.
The Ultimate Guide to International Marketing:
What is International Marketing?
International marketing, also called global marketing, involves marketing a business and its products or services in more than one country. Brands that invest in international marketing need to create a documented strategy that makes sense for each foreign market they expand into.
For example, a United States-based company expanding into Mexico needs to get its marketing messages translated, be able to handle international transactions, and put together a plan for shipping goods to another country.
Global marketing is a great idea for businesses that are looking to grow, but there are a number of best practices that need to be put in place to make sure they’re doing it right.
Best Practices for International Marketing
Because international marketing is such an expensive endeavor, it’s important to start smart. With these best practices, your brand can decide if it’s ready to expand, and begin doing so the right way.
Choose your international markets wisely.
The first step is deciding where to branch out first. Start small by choosing one single country and going from there.
A few good ways to decide which country makes the most sense are:
- Countries where your business already does well: Look at which countries visit your site most often or convert most often. It’s a good idea to start with those because you already have a good inkling that people there are interested in what you have to sell. By localizing your messaging, you might be able to bring in an even larger audience.
- Choose countries physically close to your home base: If you’re shipping physical products, it may make the most sense to start with countries that are physically close to you. This can make shipping logistics much easier when you start out.
- Countries that have less of a language barrier: If you’re starting to move business operations into a foreign country, you’ll need to start localizing your website, blog posts, and other marketing messages as a part of your international campaign. This means it can be easier to start with countries that speak the same language as you—or at least a similar version (like American English versus British English).
- Countries with similar demographics: Consider your target audience and their demographics. Targeting a country with similar demographics (i.e., age, gender, spending power) may be a great segue into a new location.
Localize your website.
As you dive into other markets, you need to make sure your website, sales pages, blog content, and other marketing messaging is accessible to your target audience in those markets. This is a big step, which is why starting with countries that have less of a language barrier can be a quicker way to dive into international marketing.
Localizing your website means translating your content and creating new web pages for that specific language and region. For example, if you have a US-based company and you want to start branching out into Mexico, you’ll need to translate your web content into Mexican Spanish.
Take a look at how the live chat app Tidio has done this.
They have the language code “es-mx” (specific for Mexican Spanish, as dialects can vary greatly from region to region, and Mexico’s Spanish is not the same as Spain’s Spanish) in their URL and the content translated into that specific dialect.
Similarly, if you want to target both Brazil and Portugal, you’ll need to localize your website twice. Just because both countries speak Portuguese doesn’t mean the language is exactly the same.
Consider creating multiple brand accounts.
After you’ve localized your website, you may realize that it makes sense to also localize your digital marketing efforts. This way, you can target a different market segment on social media.
However, while we may see public figures like Justin Trudeau share every post in two languages, that may not be the best tactic for your business.
Instead, you might want to consider creating a new social media account for each target market you plan to expand to.
Take a look at how Coca-Cola incorporated Twitter into their international marketing plan:
With each separate location, they’re able to adjust their marketing message to fit each foreign market and the campaigns and language they need to use to attract that specific audience. This leads us right to our next point.
Create unique strategies for each market.
Create a new international marketing campaign for each separate audience. Why? Well, as an example, people in America are drawn to different marketing tactics and products than people in Japan are. So the same marketing strategies and product offerings you have in America, or whatever country your home base is in, might not work in the overseas markets you expand to.
Different countries celebrate different holidays. They have different cultures. They eat, use, and buy different things. Each of these concepts can be used to create a separate international marketing campaign.
You might surround these different campaigns around different holidays that each foreign country celebrates, or you might offer varying products depending on what is popular in each market.
Take a look at this new product launch from Domino’s Pizza:
It's new. It's delicious. It's iconic.
Get ready for the best of both worlds!#DominosParathaPizza range gives you the yummiest bite of pizza with the deliciousness of a paratha.
— dominos_india (@dominos_india) May 20, 2022
Their stores throughout India are now offering a paratha pizza as paratha is a well-known Indian cuisine. By catering their menu options to their specific regional audience, they become more appealing in that area.
Bring on international team members.
Another great way to master an international marketing plan is by bringing on different team members from each foreign market you expand into.
This gives you a competitive edge because you now have someone who can localize your website and marketing content properly, create an advertising campaign that appeals to that specific audience, and have first-hand knowledge of popular trends, holidays, and the overall culture.
As you expand into international markets and grow in each new country, you may even find yourself wanting to bring on an entire marketing team for each different segment.
5 Examples of International Marketing
Now that you have an idea of how to get started with international marketing, let’s go over a few examples of well-known brands that have done a great job with their own global expansions.
Lay’s is a popular potato chip brand that has expanded into a number of international markets. Known for their many flavors—in the past, they’ve even held contests and requested submissions to select new flavors—Lay’s also does a great job of creating regional flavors.
They recently created eight flavors based on different US regions, like New England Lobster Roll or Deep Dish Pizza. However, they also create regional flavors for their different markets around the world.
The website Lay’s Around the World documents all of the different flavors seen in stores worldwide. They’ve created a Spicy Korean Ramen, Capelin Roe Mayonnaise Onigiri, and Grilled Squid for their Asian markets.
There’s also a Ketchup flavor in Canada and a Yogurt & Herbs flavor in Jordan. Paying attention to what flavor profiles different areas of the world prefer gives Lay’s a significant advantage in the potato chip market.
Visme is a graphic design software company that, though based in the US, has users from all over the world. In an attempt to further appeal to those users, they’ve begun localizing their website and their tool into a number of different languages.
In fact, if you scroll to the bottom of their website, you can see all of the available languages for browsing the website and blog.
Providing a localized and accessible experience for various foreign markets makes users even more excited about the tool. Even if people in those countries do know English, they’re likely much more comfortable in their native language—and Visme is now providing that option.
Nike is a household name for athletic gear around the world, and it’s due to the brand’s smart international marketing strategy. In order to appeal to audiences from different countries, Nike supports a number of worldwide sports and partners with worldwide athletes and influencers.
For example, here’s an Instagram post where Nike is promoting a Norwegian soccer/football player:
By touting athletes from different countries and different sports/leagues, they’re able to garner an audience of those athletes’ fans, helping to ramp up their success in each of their global campaigns.
Spotify—a music-streaming site that launched out of Sweden—has done a phenomenal job of expanding its services across the globe. Part of this is because music is universal, but part of it is also because they don’t always separate music based on region.
For example, the streaming service often creates playlists based on activity (that the site calls “Moments”), combining music from various regions. It might be a playlist for your work commute, for a run, for a beach day, etc.
Let’s take a look at the “Today’s Top Hits” playlist to see what kinds of songs they’re sharing.
While there are a number of popular American songs, we see “Shivers” by Ed Sheeran, a British singer, as well as “PROVENZA” by KAROL G and “Ojitos Lindos” by Bad Bunny and Bomba Estéreo, which are Latin American artists.
This helps international musicians build an even larger audience, making Spotify even more popular across the world.
Our last example of great international marketing goes to Red Bull, an energy drink manufacturer. Red Bull has grown in popularity around the world, in a large part due to their marketing and PR tactics.
Part of Red Bull’s marketing strategy has them host extreme sports all over the world, building up that brand awareness that helps them become a go-to brand. We can see a number of upcoming international events right on their website.
From the UK and the USA to Spain and the Maldives, Red Bull’s made its mark in a number of countries around the world.
International marketing is a great way to scale your business and reach an even larger audience. If you’re looking to expand to a global market—or even just dip your toes into a single international market—following along with our best practices and keeping the above examples in mind can be a great way to guide your strategy.
Furthermore, working with a marketing or PR agency can help to get the word out as you start to venture out into a new foreign market. Check out some of the top agencies that we recommend that can help you start growing your business even more.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why is international marketing important?
International marketing allows companies to expand operations into other countries while providing products and services that are actually appealing to those other countries and cultures. It also allows companies to better serve international customers as they’re speaking their own language.
What is the difference between international marketing and global marketing?
While often used interchangeably, there is actually a slight difference between the two. International marketing involves marketing specifically to different countries and adopting marketing practices that appeal to those countries and their citizens. Global marketing involves creating a marketing strategy that works for the worldwide market.
What is the process of international marketing?
When expanding into foreign markets, there’s a basic process you need to follow.
- Pinpoint your new international markets
- Localize your website and marketing message
- Adjust pricing to international currency
- Ensure customers can pay with their local currency
- Ensure your company can ship to international markets
- Start your new international marketing campaign
What are the most common international market entry strategies?
The five most common international market entry strategies include exporting, licensing, partnering, acquisition, and greenfield venturing.
What is an international market?
An international market is a market that is in a different country from where your business is based. Breaking out into an international market could mean opening operations in the country right next to you, or it could mean going overseas, depending on where your target audience is located.