I’ve been exploring how digital marketers can mitigate the risks of operating in a VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous) environment, and this cautious approach is not actually the safest option. When it comes to brands’ paid media strategy for businesses, looking to go international in a bid to increase potential reach and revenue is a great avenue to explore.
When the state of business is looking uncertain in your home market, internationalising gives you back the control to take a proactive stance, rather than a reactive one. Of course, I know brands can’t just ‘go international’, and it’s certainly easier for some verticals than others. There’s a lot to consider for those that do want to expand though, such as payment platforms, shipping viability, and internal infrastructure. That being said, advertising in international markets opens brands up to new audiences, and as the UK market is somewhat saturated, advertisers are increasingly considering going international to get that business growth they’re after at a reasonable investment.
With Brexit looming, we’re still unclear as to what the impact on trade links will be. Hopefully, we’ll be able to maintain some trade deals, but either way, I suspect it’ll be more complex than it currently is. But this doesn’t mean expanding to Europe shouldn’t be considered as a first port of call; it simply means that all markets are on a relatively level playing field now.
English speaking markets, such as the US, Australia, and Canada, are a good starting point – as long as you can ship to them and have decent market insights, are savvy to local preferences and can compete on price and/or quality. Additionally, some growth markets, such as Asia, use different platforms outside of Google, so you’ll need to develop knowledge and partnerships with the likes of Baidu and WeChat.
What’s beneficial is that search is a great channel to test new markets with; it’s relatively simple to build and set up campaigns from the UK and test what does and doesn’t work. Once you’ve collected enough data and identified trends, you can focus your budget into areas that are working well for you, increasing visibility and investment where you’re seeing the greatest return.
Channel strategy alignment
Advertisers always want to do more with less, especially during economically challenging times. For me, this means making sure that all digital channels are working together, and not against each other. This involves aligning your channel strategies so they’re all working towards the same goal, that teams are communicating to avoid cannibalisation, and ensuring that each channel is also capitalising on any gaps in the other’s performance. If conversions aren’t up to expectations, invest in improving your on-site user experience and conversion rate optimisation, but align with your performance channels’ targets.
Advertising is expensive, and is even more so in a new market. But whatever helps you in one channel should help you in another, as working together towards the same goal will enable you to achieve more with less.
When thinking about integrating channels, you also need to consider audiences. Google has made huge strides in this area recently, but it’s important to think how we can take this audience targeting outside of pure search, whether that be through channel integration options or remarketing based on the original search campaigns.
What I think is more interesting, and will become more important moving forward, is the ability to personalise landing pages to those users based on why they came to site and their interests, which will maximise returns. It could be as simple as targeting a specific remarketing list with a specific landing page suited to those needs, or it could be a more complicated algorithm fuelled by machine learning to do so automatically – but either way, consumers are looking for websites to meet their needs in as few clicks as possible, and advertisers need to keep up with this expectation. Giants such as Amazon are already doing a great job in this area, but I think smaller advertisers could, and should, do more here.
My advice is to consider your playing field carefully. While the market is uncertain at home, it’s certainly worth considering a global approach. In time, you’ll find the growth you’re looking for – effectively doing more, with less.
Angie Knibb is head of paid search at Greenlight Digital.