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How marketers need to be able to identify and translate campaigns to the right markets

How marketers need to be able to identify and translate campaigns to the right markets [Photo: iStock/Yongyuan Dai]
in Retail and Ecommerce

Ecommerce is a big deal on a global scale, with more and more companies looking to take their operations from within the barriers of their own countries and into new markets across the world. But in order to do this successfully, businesses need to make sure they are getting it right with regards to their marketing online. After all, an ecommerce site can only operate effectively if its target audience knows it exists and what it offers.

For those companies looking to make this move into new markets, there are some challenges that will exist, not least the translation of their marketing campaigns. Making sure that your campaigns are translated from one language into another can present a real challenge of its own, but that’s not all you need to deal with. It’s also vital to track who your customers are, how they interact with brands and shopping sites and where best to move operations to in order to achieve maximum success.

Identifying new markets

One of the first steps in any globalisation process for ecommerce firms is to decide where they want to move their businesses to in terms of new target markets. After all, you can’t start to even consider how to market products to people without knowing who and where they are. This is becoming an easier task to undertake in the modern world, largely thanks to the clear trends that emerge in the growth of ecommerce across the world, but it’s still a vital choice that has to be well considered before final decisions are made.

At the moment, it’s becoming more common for businesses to move and translate their sites into Asian markets, and more specifically the Far East, where ecommerce has become big business in recent years. While we would traditionally see the US and Europe as the largest markets for online retail, the impact of countries from the Far East has more than challenged the norm in the past few years.

For example, in recent years, China has emerged as the surprising leader in worldwide ecommerce sales. The Drum reports that while the US online market manages to command about seven per cent of all retail sales on average, in China, the same reading comes in at about 15 per cent, showing how important the market is in the Far East.

It’s a similar story in countries like South Korea. While probably not one that most people would think of when identifying world leaders in ecommerce, buoyed by the fastest internet speeds on the planet and a demand from consumers for mobile shopping that is quick and convenient, South Korea has become the seventh largest online retail market in recent years, with expectations of a rise to $50 million per year in sales for the sector between now and 2018.

Some 65 per cent of internet users in South Korea shop online now, according to PFS data, and with the number of people using the internet rising constantly in the country, this gives added potential to a market that is already really starting to find its feet on a global scale.

Finding markets that are growing, or have the potential for real growth, such as these, is absolutely key to globalising ecommerce projects, and by extension marketing campaigns involved with these. Knowing where your audience is, after all, is the first step in starting a dialogue with them that can shape the future of your online retail business.

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Knowing what the customer wants

When you have identified the markets you want to operate in as a company, the next challenge will come in knowing what the customer wants from marketing campaigns. How and where do they interact with brands? How do they come to site? What devices are they using to make purchases? All of these are pertinent questions that you need to be asking before you kick off the translation of your online marketing campaigns in new markets.

The reason for this is simple; in different countries, customers use shopping sites, and the wider internet, in completely different ways. For example, in China, even the largest ecommerce brands would be fighting a losing battle in trying to bring customers to their own sites. As much as 75 per cent of ecommerce in China, according to Bloomberg, is conducted through the Alibaba marketplace. What does this mean for marketers? In simple terms, it means that translating campaigns designed to bring people to brands’ own sites to complete a purchase is pointless and that it may be better to target marketplace marketing instead to find success.

Similarly, it’s also important to know what devices people are using to connect with brands and make purchases. In South Korea, for example, there has been a huge shift towards mobile shopping in recent times. As many as 90 per cent of people in the country use a smartphone, and Practical Ecommerce says that 64 per cent use their phones for shopping online. This is expected to generate $15 million in sales alone this year, representing more than a third of the ecommerce market.

When people are shopping on phones, it means that your marketing campaigns need to be adjusted to meet their needs. It’s not all about just translating messages from one language to another, but also ensuring that your marketing talks to people in other countries in the right way. For example, if the majority of people you want to reach are using mobile devices to browse, there is little point in long-form content, as this can be cumbersome on mobiles. Short, snappy marketing messages work far better.

Strategy for marketers looking to translate their campaigns should all come down to decisions like this based on research of your target audience. Once you know how someone interacts with brands, it becomes far easier to tailor campaigns to meet their needs.

Translating campaigns

Of course, language is one of the most important considerations that needs to be made when it comes to marketing campaigns. Your company may well operate in one of the most prominent online languages, like English or French, but it’s foolish to assume that people in other countries will understand the same marketing campaigns, which can render them obsolete in terms of attracting customers onto shopping sites.

A good example of this is Japan. In Japan, the vast majority of people are tech-savvy and forward-thinking, which means ecommerce is a widespread phenomenon. They even regularly shop on overseas sites. But the problem emerges where marketing messages and websites have not been effectively translated. Digital River reports that 99 per cent of the Japanese population speaks almost exclusively Japanese, which can mean poorly or untranslated marketing campaigns and websites being basically out of bounds to a large chunk of the target audience.

Chinese shoppers are also increasingly looking overseas for ecommerce purchases, interacting with brands that offer things domestic companies do not. However, a very small portion of the large online audience in China speak English, for example, fluently, and therefore failing to change marketing campaigns to meet their needs and hit their pain points and interests can result in flat marketing messages that do not have any impact on people’s decision-making process.

When it comes to marketing for ecommerce brands looking to go global, there are a number of different considerations that need to be made in order to create a campaign that works in new markets. Knowing where your audience is and who they are, as well as how they interact with brands, can help you identify the best ways to reach them, while effective, accurate and timely translation brings it all together into a campaign that helps ecommerce brands to grow and reach markets they never have before.

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