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Trends Global Brands Should Watch Out For

 

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Commerce has never been more global than it is today—this is largely because of the significance of the Internet in our daily lives, and the inherently borderless nature of that very Internet. If a company has a website, in some way, it’s already a global brand. Of course, that doesn’t make it an effective global brand.

Rather, operating on a global scale effectively requires a brand to be proactive, engaged and dedicated to the pursuit of reaching customers in other parts of the globe, while creating content that works toward business goals and still resonates with those consumers. It also means being aware of which way the wind is blowing, in regards to customer tastes, technology and industry patterns. To wit, here are some trends that are driving ambitious brands to change and perfect their global content strategies.

Content is King: Content Marketing is the Name of the Game

Content Marketing (along with SEO) has taken center stage for brand initiatives, with good reason. With a strong content marketing strategy that employs content that is timely, relevant and thought provoking, brands can engage on a deep level with their customers. What does this mean on a global scale, though? Smart brands understand that engaging global audiences and tapping into seemingly endless international business opportunities now requires more than standard translation of U.S.-centric content. Personalization is the key to global growth, and it can be achieved through a global content strategy focused on creating native brand experiences, which involves making each customer feel as if content and messages were created specifically for them. Further, having these experiences available on all platforms and devices, and in-line with SEO best practices, will make sure that these carefully-crafted messages find their audience.

Customer Experience Trumps Other Features

More than ever before, consumers want brands that they can identify with, brands that align with their needs and cares. The result of this shift is that customer experience has become paramount, even more so than pricing or product features, which historically have been the driving force behind purchasing decisions. When taking content – and anything that communicates with consumers – global, those same native brand experiences mentioned above will be vital in creating this consumer-brand relationship that fosters engagement and loyalty. This means making sure communication is in local languages and dialects, being aware of cultural sensitivity and idiosyncrasies, and otherwise making sure that content is relevant to consumers’ lives.

Mobile is Everywhere

Customer expectations have also changed with regard to access and speed – they want what they want anywhere, anytime, and they don’t want to wait for it. Mobile devices have thus changed the relationship between brand and consumer, and if content and websites aren’t optimized for mobile devices, it can hurt brand perception and sales. Digital services need to look great, work fast, and be easy-to-use…these aspects aren’t a bonus for customers any more, they’re expected, and a lack of them can hurt. This is particularly true when taking content global, because mobile adoption is highest in emerging countries that represent a huge part of global opportunity.

Global Opportunity is Accelerating

It’s no wonder that brands are increasingly doing business in international regions beyond their home market: According to recent numbers from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, 95 percent of the world’s consumers and 80 percent of the world’s purchasing power live outside of the U.S. Additionally, the biggest population growth and increases in purchasing power are happening in countries where English is not the preferred language. That huge amount of opportunity outside of U.S. borders is very attractive to brands (and ignoring it is limiting the potential consumer base to 5 percent of what it could be), but in order to tap into it, these organizations will need to think about how their content will be received in these other cultures and regions. If the websites, mobile apps and other digital content is the same as it is in the U.S., the answer is “not well”–content must be localized to be relevant to the places it’s going.

Supply Chains Need to Enable On-Demand Economies

Content strategies can become tricky when accounting for on-demand processes required by today’s consumers. They want access to products and services immediately, or nearly so, and any delay can be all the reason needed for them to jump ship to a different brand. This creates headaches for marketing teams trying to build a consistent content strategy—and is even harder when that strategy needs to account for multilingual, multinational, or multicultural audiences. Repeat business and customer loyalty must be cultivated, and companies can do so by remaining agile and allowing the pace of global content creation and distribution to keep up with consumer demand.

Platform Silos are Diluting Brand Messaging

Software today allows marketers to do things they never could before, and run their brands and businesses more efficiently and effectively—just look at what can be achieved with platforms like HubSpot, Marketo, Salesforce and WordPress. But these discrete technology platforms also have the unintended effect of isolating departments, or even persons within a single department, making it more difficult for an effective global content strategy to take shape. As a result, smart brands are realizing that these barriers need to be vaulted over or torn down, so that the right content can be consistently built and distributed to the right audience. In order to achieve this, any platform that impacts the brand (whether it’s used by marketing, sales, IT, or product development) must be properly coordinated, and any translation or localization tools that aim to take a brand global need to fit seamlessly within existing (and future) technology stacks.

 


 

Image Credit: CC by HumongoNationphotogallery

About the author: Judd Marcello

Judd Marcello is the VP of marketing at Smartling, a New York-based SaaS technology company.

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