How to Launch, Market & Sell Your Product Internationally
If you’ve been following our eCommerce series, we’ve broken down how you can:
Validate your international market demand
Set up your store for global expansion
Set up a scalable shipping strategy
The fourth & final step? Scaling your marketing and customer demand! In this post, we’re going to discuss precisely that -- how you can launch and market your product beyond Australia.
Launching in a New Market Requires Brand and Performance Marketing
The biggest mistake eCommerce store owners make when expanding internationally is launching the same promotional offers in a new market.
The problem with that approach? Chances are, your brand has zero awareness in the new market you’re targeting. That means you need to market your brand and run ads to test products, offers, and drive sales.
No matter the industry, product, customer or size, a company’s brand is its single most important asset. Most people see Nike as a clothing and shoe manufacturer. I see them as a Herculean (excuse the fitting Ancient Greek reference) brand.
The tricky thing about brand marketing is the ROI is often unquantifiable. What you’re left with is the allure of vanity metrics - clicks, views, likes, shares - that don’t give you an accurate picture of how your brand is interacting with the world.
But despite the nebulous nature of your company’s brand - there are things that you can influence:
Champions: people who advocate for your brand (influencers, customers, employees, partners, etc.)
Brand assets: what your brand owns or does that allows you to uniquely provide what you promise your customers.
Leveraging influencers and user-generated content is still one of the most effective ways to grow your brand in 2021. We’re not suggesting you blow your budget on expensive influencers; you need to incentivize your customers to create content and find local champions like micro-influencers that share similar values to your brand.
Partner and collaborate with influencers for authentic content and real brand growth. The key is working with influencers that make sense for your brand. Aside from producing good content that creates influence through positive associations, you can ensure that your brand campaigns are adding value in the form of word-of-mouth referrals and revenue.
Performance marketing is all about maximizing ROI. As an advertiser, you only pay when a specific action is completed; such as a sale, lead or click.
Testing your products, offers, and messaging with paid ads is highly effective because you can see what works and what doesn’t - quickly. It’s almost an instant feedback loop that you can iterate on with long-term vision.
We covered the most effective paid channels you can leverage in part 2 of the International eCommerce series, but here’s a refresh:
Social channels: Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest,
PPC channels: Google, Bing
Identifying and Investing in the Right Channels for Your Audience Abroad
The key to winning with paid advertising channels is selling directly where your audience lives.
Instagram is one of the most effective sales channels to leverage because:
It’s visual (brilliant for showcasing products).
Its users are engaged millennials (80% of users follow a brand)
Its users are making purchases (Instagram has the second highest AOV of all social channels, following Pinterest)
It’s continually adding new features that are commerce friendly (Instagram live shopping, Facebook pay, and more).
Does that mean you should use Instagram to target your new market?
Short answer: no. The right channel is the channel where your audience already lives.
The question is: who are your customers and where do they spend their time online?
Here are five steps to help you answer that question:
1. Identify your ideal customer: create a fictional persona of your ideal customer profile (ICP). The clearer your ICP is, the easier it is to find people on social media in your target market.
2. Use Facebook Ads Manager to estimate the size of your audience in your target market.
3. Survey your existing customer base - it’s likely that your ideal customer in your target market hang out in the same places online.
4. Research online behaviour by finding studies and infographics that provide information on specific platforms or other countries.
5. Find and connect with your customers.
Why Brand Building is Critical When Expanding Internationally
In seeking to increase your businesses growth through international expansion, establishing and building a brand is essential.
Your brand is your reputation. And reputation = trust. Remember how we mentioned that when expanding into a new market you have zero brand awareness? That also means you have zero trust.
Building a reputation in a new market involves a first impression, which comes from the initial interactions someone has with your company, products, and services.
You can shape or form the branding of your company with brand marketing strategies and channels, which we highlighted above.
The secret to building a brand internationally is doing your homework. Aside from the things we’ve already covered, like ensuring you have a market overseas and your ability to deliver; one of the most crucial factors to consider is that your product marketing is aligned with cultural expectations and doesn’t insult anyone in different parts of the world.
Here are some hilarious examples of F500 brands that experienced cultural blunders when marketing their products internationally:
In Spain, when Coors Brewing Company translated its slogan “Turn it loose” into Spanish, it read as: “Suffer from diarrhea”.
In Chinese, the Kentucky Fried Chicken slogan “finger-lickin’ good” came out as “Eat your fingers off”.
These initial impressions could make or break your brand in international markets so make sure you do your homework and re-examine product names, packaging, slogans/promotions, your logo, and intellectual property.
Applying a Data-driven Approach to Your International Marketing Strategy
For your marketing strategy to be data-driven, you need to collect comprehensive data that allow you to make data-backed decisions.
That means you need to test the language you use (copy), seasonal offers and product ranges, and pricing.
With language, aside from ensuring that your copy is culturally sensitive to your target region, you also need to revise your product names. For example, if you’re selling homeware like “quilt covers”, you’d want to rename it to “doona cover” depending on the region.
With seasonal products and ranges, you need to test different offers to find fitting customer demand. For example, you might offer a X% discount or $X off with $X minimum spend. Play around with different offers and discounts (we’ve outlined various in our previous post on product pricing and promotions .
Analyse Your Ad Performance to Learn Which Products, Offers, and Messages Resonate With Your New Market
Analysing your ad performance is crucial because it allows you to learn which products and offers perform best so that you can double-down on them and keep doing more of what’s working.
To take that a step further, analysing ad performance across different markets is important because customer preferences differ and you’ll need to localize your international marketing strategy to improve conversions.
The question is: what should you be looking at when analysing ad performance?
As we covered in previous posts in this series, the two metrics that will give you a solid grasp of performance are: Return on Marketing Investment (ROMI) and Return on Ad Spend (ROAS).
Let’s highlight the difference for clarity's sake. While ROMI measures how much revenue a marketing campaign is generating compared to the total costs of running the campaign, ROAS measures the revenue a specific ad campaign generates compared to the costs of running said ads.
Most eCommerce businesses should be looking for profitability on first purchase, with repeat purchases driving lifetime value. To determine profitability, test out multiple different offers with low-cost ads on advertising platforms like Instagram or Facebook.
Remember - marketing is all about doing what’s already working. There’s no need to reinvent the wheel. With that in mind, a great starting point is doing competitor research using the Facebook Ads library .
While browsing your competitors' ads, ask yourself:
What are your competitors offering?
What are their advertising styles? Visual creative? Copy?
What can you adapt to your ads while balancing your brand differentiation?
Accelerate your global expansion with International eCommerce playbook
We built this free International eCommerce Playbook to unpack everything you need to know. From identifying your next market, validating customer demand through to scaling up your shipping and finance operations to grow your margins.