How exporters can use content marketing to reach international customers
Content marketing is the process of creating and sharing content that’s valuable to your target audience. It can be educational, entertaining, or even inspirational. It’s a great way to reach a wider audience at a low cost.
Good content is like a pass that allows you to enter virtually any online community and put your export business in front of your target audience, without appearing to be too ‘salesy’. Sharing useful content with your potential customers enables you to position yourself as an expert in your area of business and generate inbound interest for your products & services.
However, if you’re expanding your export business into foreign markets, then you’ll need to adapt your content marketing for a global audience.
Know your target audience
No matter where you’re planning to do business, it’s essential to know your target customer before you generate any kind of content. What works for your domestic market may not be suitable for your target markets abroad.
If you’re looking to enter foreign markets, you need to do your research. Look at the websites of similar businesses in your target markets. Find out:
- What kind of topics do they write about?
- What kind of content do they produce (such as blogs, infographics, videos, podcasts)?
- How do they promote their content – on Facebook, Twitter, or someplace else?
- Which online forums and social media groups do they engage in?
Reach out to local experts who are well-versed with the particular markets you’re targeting. Ensure that you understand the culture, preferences, taboos, and communication style of the local audience. This will help you produce content that’s not only relevant but also speaks their language.
Invest in relevant content
To build your audience abroad, you need to connect with them on their terms. It means using their preferred digital channels and communicating in their native language. Whether it’s your blog posts, YouTube videos, images or podcasts, you need to invest in the translation and localization of your content.
You can even try out Transcreation, that is creating entirely new content for a particular region.
If your export business doesn’t produce any content yet, then look at your website, your social media posts, and your online forum discussions in your domestic market. They are also valuable pieces of content that you can use to promote your business.
From that starting point, translate and share your content strategically via different digital channels such as emails, social networks, messaging apps. Make sure to adapt your content for each regional market.
You can use services like Google Translate or Bing Translate to quickly translate your content for free, though we recommend working with a translation company who can help you transliterate – not just translate – your content so that it is easily understandable in the target market and translated to a high standard.
Meet your audience online
There are more than 3.5 billion active Internet users all over the world, with 600,000 new users being added every day, most of them via mobile devices.
Such a rapid growth of Internet community only leads to an increased usage of social networks and messaging apps.
How can you use this trend to expand your export business?
Find out the most popular social networks, online forums and messaging apps in your target market. They vary across regions. Although Facebook is the world’s most popular social network, QZone is the top social platform in China. In Russia, VKontakte is the most popular social network.
Similarly, although Whatsapp & Facebook Messenger are popular all over the world, QQ and WeChat are the top messaging apps in China.
Such insights will give you an idea of where to find your target audience online, and how to reach them effectively.
Don’t get caught in the language limbo
According to a report by Common Sense Advisory, 87% of consumers who can’t read English don’t buy products or services at English websites, and 55% of consumers buy only at websites where the information is provided in their language.
If you want to sell more goods & services to global customers, it’s essential to localize your website, product information and any other piece of content.
Find out if your target market responds to only the local language, or if it is open to bilingual marketing. For example, in Canada, both English and French have the status of official language and bilingual marketing is a standard practice. This will help you determine the languages suitable for your content.
Even if your content doesn’t need translation, you need to adopt a local voice. For example, both the British and the Americans speak English but a British car manufacturer talking about ‘boots’, ‘bonnets’ and ‘dampers’ in its sales and marketing materials will only confuse the American readers.
Adopt local conventions
If you want your export business to penetrate deep into international markets, you need to go beyond simple translation of words on your page. You must ensure that even the behavior depicted in your content is culturally appropriate and desirable. Else, it can tarnish your brand.
For example, when KFC opened in China, the translation of their famous slogan “finger lickin’ good” came out as “eat your fingers off” which only made the Chinese consumers apprehensive.
Before you begin content marketing, ask yourself:
- What kind of content do your international audiences want?
- In which languages?
- What are the customers’ problems, questions and pain points? They might vary across regions
- How can you help them with your content?
People want to do business with people they know, trust & like – not logos, or brands. Content marketing is an effective way for export businesses to reach international markets and connect with people. It enables you to tell your story and help customers solve problems. The key is to speak their language and participate in the conversation to establish trust, create good will and build relationship of trust. It will only help you create awareness and drive more customers to your business.
For more than 8 years, Sreeram Sreenivasan has worked with various Fortune 500 Companies in areas of Business Growth & Marketing Strategy. He’s the Founder of Ubiq BI, a BI Platform for SMBs & Enterprises. He also runs the Fedingo blog that covers a wide range of marketing topics.