Cultural Awareness Key to Global Ecommerce Marketing
E-commerce companies that wish to go international need to focus on cultural awareness as part of their global marketing and sales strategies. Not enough companies are applying localisation at every level, leaving gaps in their global goals.

Recognising who you are talking to, selling to or building a brand with is crucial for ecommerce sites. Dr. Martens, for example, is one company that is adapting its global sales and marketing through its website. When customers from all over the world visit their website, they encounter a site specifically designed for them. Gil Levy, managing partner with Ecommerce Partners, believes this is a very wise move: “You can merchandise specific to that country. It's not just the price and the product, but it’s the whole experience.”

According to the E-Commerce Times, companies that wish to expand overseas need to take a leaf out of the Dr Martens' book. For example, when designing their website, they must consider language, cultural expectations and marketing strategies. The easiest way for an e-commerce business to build a presence in a certain country is by creating a country-specific website. Levy agrees: “We recommend having a domain name within the country, and a domain within the country that is commonly used,” he says. “If I work with a client in Australia, for instance, I use the domain ‘au.’ You also have to be sensitive to language and translation.”

Creating a country-specific website is easier said than done: in order to develop a successful website, companies must have great understanding about the culture they are targeting. Levy states he uses locals to make sure the quality of website is up to par: “We work with companies to go over taxonomy and user experience, and once a site is up and running, we have all the tools.”

Small companies might not have the connections and resources to create language- or culture-specific websites. However, the E-Commerce Times believes there are less expensive options around for them to conquer a spot on the global market.

The director of international sales at GlobalShopex, Sidney Dunn, tells E-Commerce: “a medium-sized merchant, they can do things such as IP recognition, or just make it very accessible by streamlining the international process.” In addition, a cheap way of connecting to people in a foreign market is to be aware of the events in the targeted country. Dunn: “For marketing, it’s all about the seasonality. Think about the World Cup happening in Brazil, and start marketing around that.”

Going global is a great thing, but companies should keep their overall marketing strategy in mind when targeting specific markets. Mike Willoughby, president of PFSweb, told the E-Commerce Times: “It’s imperative to operate on the same system across all geographies to provide a truly seamless international expansion plan, saving both future implementation time and costs.” He continued: “Having a global marketing strategy is key to achieving success across all markets.”

In order to be successful, companies must understand the demographics of a country and must act upon these as well. Willoughby’s advice? “Define your target audience per country, have a deep understanding of their culture, and localize your brand messaging and content. Create a relevant digital communication strategy targeted to that region’s audience, ensure your campaigns support brand loyalty and customer retention, and engage your customers. Optimize your search marketing strategy for each region. This consists of identifying the local search engines, localizing content, and performing in-depth keyword analysis by country.”

In addition to this advice, it is important that companies understand the marketing regulations of a country and are aware of the unspoken cultural codes that apply. It would be a shame if your marketing campaign was unsuccessful because it is offending to your audience! Willoughby: “Understand the marketing regulations per country. Rules such as opt-in and cookie laws vary by country and must be taken into consideration when developing your digital marketing strategy.”

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