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University of Sunderland

Unlocking global audiences through international marketing

Posted on: September 28, 2022
Hands on a laptop with map above and words depicting global marketing strategy

International marketing is the process of marketing products or services to customers across the world.

While marketing internationally may not have always been a cost-effective, viable route for some businesses, technological advances have meant that we now live in an increasingly interconnected, digital world where its importance cannot be understated. Today’s business owners can take full advantage of this fact, accessing global audiences via clever, well-designed marketing plans and winning over greater numbers of customers in the process.

However, international expansion is not easy: it requires a solid understanding of digital marketing, brand management, market research, and navigating ever-evolving global business environments. Employers are constantly seeking individuals with the skills and knowledge to design and implement an international marketing mix, drawing upon the latest approaches and frameworks – meaning it’s the ideal time to upskill.

Why is international marketing important?

For most organisations making the leap from local or national marketing to international marketing, the driving force is simple: expanding business and increasing profit. While a larger customer base is clearly key to greater profit margins, there are a whole host of benefits beyond these central aims, from adapting to changing business environments – and therefore building resilience into a business model and its operations – to taking advantage of advances in technology.

International marketing has the potential to open up a wealth of new, exciting opportunities. Marketing to more people means greater recognition and awareness for global brands which, in turn, can boost brand reputation. Having a powerful, easily recognised brand identity is integral to building long-term trust, loyalty and stability. Alongside this, it can forge new partnerships and business relationships. These connections can bring many benefits, such as diversifying supply chains, sourcing brand advocates to support marketing and public relations efforts, and tapping into existing customer networks.

International marketing also:

  • expands and diversifies revenue streams
  • ensures optimum utilisation of resources and surplus production
  • facilitates cultural exchange
  • increases competitive advantage
  • supports a long-term view of the business.

What to consider when developing a global strategic marketing plan

A business cannot adopt a one-size-fits-all approach when they decide to market to international audiences. It’s critical for business leaders and marketing professionals to familiarise themselves with the culture and customs of both the countries and markets they hope to expand into.

Any solid digital marketing plan will be founded on in-depth understanding of, for example, business practices, local search engine mechanisms, preferred taxonomy and phrasing, points of reference and target audience interests and motivations.

There are a whole host of considerations to take into account, as the Chartered Institute of Marketing outlines:

  • International product lifecycle – including consideration about launching products in foreign markets
  • International product strategies
  • Assessment and adaptation of products and services for foreign markets
  • International messaging and international value propositions
  • Frameworks for international pricing and international digital marketing.

There are a number of key questions that marketers and business leaders should ask ahead of designing their international marketing mix. For example, what marketing initiatives and promotions can be adapted so they are more relevant and engaging for local consumers? Who are the local competitors, and what adaptations need to be made to compete with them effectively? Is the international branding appropriate? Is it strong enough? Do customers in certain countries search by specific words and phrases? What role will social media marketing play? Do product and service offerings take into account local tastes, needs and customs? Is a native-language website required or can potential customers simply change the translation settings of an existing site?

What are the main elements of international marketing strategy?

As well as the comprehensive research that is required, as mentioned above, there are a number of key elements to best marketing practice on an international scale:

  • Infrastructure. As well as establishing more physical infrastructural elements, such as supply chains and logistics and distribution channels, expanding internationally requires strong digital infrastructure. To support international marketing endeavours, securing top-level domains for local markets, developing local language websites, registering trademarks and optimising for the most-prevalent search engines within target markets is key.
  • Product and service localisation. As discussed, product and service offerings must be tailored to local cultures and customs. For example, product packaging, labelling, formulation and even suggested use and application must be appropriate and engaging for local target markets.
  • Marketing localisation and communications localisation. Marketers must accommodate local market expectations in their marketing efforts. Messaging and marketing activities should be appropriately tailored – for example, utilising the preferred channels of local audiences, running promotions and initiatives that audiences will respond most positively to, and using colloquially appropriate phrasing and translation.
  • Inbound and outbound marketing. Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is a form of inbound marketing and one that is critical to successful international marketing. Business owners should prioritise fresh, high-quality and valuable content that contains keywords, links and information that audiences want, in a format that is accessible. The right content marketing – leading users to the right  website content – helps to convert traffic to leads and prospective sales. Outbound marketing refers to the tools used to launch marketing efforts – including emails, social media advertisements, promotions and infomercials. It requires multiple iterations across different markets, but supports a more resilient business model as a result.

International marketing trends in 2022

Bubbles Translation Services, whose consultancy services help clients to reach customers across the world, forecast this year’s biggest international marketing trends as:

  • personalisation over segmentation
  • building trust to boost loyalty
  • responsible use of customer data
  • engaging with users and communities of users
  • conversational marketing.

Become an expert in international marketing management

Boost your employability and gain the skills to expand business into international markets with the University of Sunderland’s online International MBA programme.

If you’re ready to take the next step towards senior leadership positions in fast-paced, global organisations, our flexible postgraduate course will equip you with the knowledge needed to succeed. You’ll gain in-depth understanding of global expansion, graduating with the ability to problem-solve, strategise and lead a business at the highest levels. Alongside global marketing fundamentals and marketing theories, your modules and course content will explore people management, leadership, finance, international business strategy, consumer behaviour, organisational decision-making and more.

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