Digital marketing and customer experience management are hard enough when targeting a single region and language. 

The challenges grow exponentially as marketers contend with the nuances of multiple geographies, peoples and cultures.

How do brands tell stories and engage with customers across these borders and languages? What are the strategies, tools and processes necessary to balance an organization’s marketing priorities with local relevance?

These are the questions we asked in our latest survey, The Global Conversation: How international brands manage customer engagement produced in association with Lionbridge.

The survey of more than 325 international marketing organizations, focuses on the key differences between organizations leading the way, and those that follow. 

Let’s take a look at some of the key insight and guidance from the report, paying particular attention to how ‘the leaders’ behave differently from the rest.

Global engagement: leaders vs. rest of industry

International marketers used to just rely on 30-second spots and glossy inserts to tell a story with emotion and imagery. Today however, this approach is much less effective. 

Marketers now have to connect and communicate with customers in far more meaningful ways, using relevance and personalisation across multiple digital and offline channels, as well as across the globe.

We asked our respondents, “which of the following statements best describes your global campaign performance?”

Throughout this study we are seeking to learn from organizations that are most successful at managing global marketing campaigns. Therefore we have segmented out the leaders, the 22% of the sample that most consistently hits financial targets and timelines for international marketing. 

This 22% we will refer to throughout the report as ‘leaders’.

Leaders control global marketing through a hub and spoke model

While leaders prefer to create content locally, they are much more likely than the rest of the industry to require approvals for all content (72% to 32%). They are also more likely to centralize specialist skills and budgets.

Technology and process management are keys to leaders’ ability to maintain global standards in brand management, media asset use and measurement. 

In contrast to that, only 4% of the mainstream describe their systems and processes as “fully consistent” across the stakeholders involved, compared to more than 70% of leaders.

Leaders use external partners differently from the mainstream

Most companies in the survey use third-parties to support their international marketing efforts, but how they use them is markedly different. 

The mainstream relies on creative agencies for support across functions, but is significantly less likely to use translation/localization services than the leaders (36% to 58%). 

Leaders use specialists, but maintain internal expertise in producing content and distributing it. Leaders put themselves in a position to lead and manage the process, taking advantage of specialists without relying too heavily on them for strategy and creative execution.

For more in-depth analysis of the survey, download the full report: The Global Conversation: How international brands manage customer engagement.

Christopher Ratcliff

Published 21 May, 2015 by Christopher Ratcliff

Christopher Ratcliff is the editor of Methods Unsound. He was the Deputy Editor of Econsultancy. You can follow him on Twitter or connect via Google+ and LinkedIn

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