Think marketing to international audiences online is as simple as throwing up a .com/theworld version of your site + opting your media into the next big geo? Get ready for a #globalfail.

There are plenty of ways your international programs can go wrong. Close contenders to this list included designing web experiences that work against the user i.e. Korean language sites that visually move the user’s eye left to right when the language actually reads right to left. Or directly translating all your content, versus conducting a more creative adaptation on key product names or marketing messages (fact: Schweppes translated and promoted soda water as “toilet water” in Italy).

Here are some of the top three mistakes digital marketers make when taking a brand global:

  1. Replicating a domestic strategy

The golden rule of global marketing is simple: Diverse strategies for diverse markets. By far the biggest mistake brands make internationally is replicating their domestic marketing in regions that don’t share their demographics, languages, preferences, or behaviors. Sure, you can group all those English speaking markets together and give them the same marketing message, promotions, or even product. But wouldn’t you rather double your ROI with a strategy that gets the most from that geography? This starts with understanding the nuances of a region, country, or even smaller market segment. Establishing a different approach for each geography (even if that means tweaking just one component of your program) will help you get there.

  1. Using the same KPIs

Think you should see the same click through rates on paid search ads in Germany as you do with those in the U.S.? Or are you comparing followers of your social networks in Russia to those here at home? Odds are you’re probably using the wrong KPIs. If you did your due diligence in establishing a strategy unique to each new market, you’ve likely considered tweaking your objectives as well. The market is new to your brand, so that needs to be reflected in the metrics you’re measuring as well.  Defining goals for the business, as well as the digital channels you plan to support, will help gauge the success of your program. When last reported in 2013, Baidu (China’s primary search engine) was handling over five billion search queries per day compared to the roughly 3.3 billion on Google during that same timeframe. That doesn’t necessarily mean that Chinese users have a higher tendency to click on an ad despite that volume though. Understand each locale’s digital tendencies before you measure them and create your campaigns accordingly to meet market objectives.

  1. Focusing on the known platforms

The unknown is scary. Yandex, Youku, Baidu, Naver, Weibo, Vkontakte… there’s a whole world of platforms out there that you’re not using (or can barely pronounce the names of, for that matter). In some cases, these unfamiliar vendors and tools are supported in another language with currencies you’re not even attempting to convert. Yet those same platforms are where your target audience spends 90% of their day. So instead of launching SnapChat to reach the socially savvy teens in Brazil (quick fact: Brazil is responsible for 10% of total time spent on social media globally), look into Whatsapp where 24% of primarily younger users connect. Get to know your customer so they can get to know you.

By localizing your digital strategy, marketing plan, and content for every locale, you’ll make the most of your global investment. Every country is unique, so tailor your efforts accordingly!

Want to learn more or receive additional guidance? Get in touch with the BMDi team today at