Tips & Guides — 29 Apr 2022
9 Ecommerce Global Marketing Strategies
One feature of any ecommerce website is that it can draw in visitors from all over the world – and any of them could be your next brand loyalist.
Still, knowing that your ecommerce store could reach worldwide audiences isn’t the same as actively marketing globally.
We’re going to cover some of the top global marketing strategies that help boost your ecommerce sales worldwide. But, before we get into exactly how to break into these markets, let’s start with a basic definition of ecommerce marketing.
The ecommerce market is on the rise. In recent years, it’s grown rapidly – a sure sign that the world of ecommerce marketing is becoming more relevant every day.
Ecommerce marketing is all about drawing new customers to your online store, and encouraging them to spend their time and money there.
In short, it’s a term that describes any marketing strategy specifically targeted towards online shoppers.
As with traditional marketing, ecommerce marketing plans benefit greatly from incorporating specialized software. For example, a partnership marketing platform lets online retailers manage their ecommerce marketing partners, while automation can speed up those repetitive tasks that keep your team busy.
Before you dive in and start planning out your newest marketing campaign, you’ve got to ask yourself two key questions:
Expanding the reach of your ecommerce business has the potential to bring you lots of new customers – if there’s demand for your products.
To put it one way, you’d probably have a hard time selling seashells near the seashore, no matter what the old tongue twister says.
You simply can’t sell if there’s no target audience. That’s why you’ve got to check for demand. Consider Starbucks in Australia, for example – even though the chain is popular practically worldwide, it had to close most of its stores in 2008. Australia has a well established ‘coffee culture’, and there was simply no demand for what Starbucks offered.
If you sell physical products, you’ll need to factor in shipping costs. And, whether you sell physical or digital products, you can’t avoid taxes.
When you ship to international customers, you still want to be making a profit. After all, a new market full of potential customers doesn’t do you much good if the shipping costs or taxes for that country are more than you earn from selling your products there.
That might mean certain countries stay off your shipping lists. It might also mean you can only sell there if you adjust your product price and shipping charges accordingly.
You’ve considered the questions above, and decided you do want to start marketing globally. What do you stand to gain?
Well, at the most basic level, a lot of new customers. Based only on data from 2021, the Chinese ecommerce market alone saw sales of over $2.7 billion. That’s more than three times the sales the US market made.
Aside from giving you access to these profitable local markets, global ecommerce marketing also increases your brand awareness. More people will hear about your brand, so more conversations can happen about it.
Drawing up a brand new plan doesn’t have to be daunting. All you need to do is follow this simple five-step guide, and you’ll have your own ecommerce marketing plan ready in no time.
Your executive summary should be a point of reference throughout the planning process.
It’s a short, to-the-point overview of your marketing approach. A good executive summary is two pages long at most. It covers the ecommerce marketing strategy’s key points, and provides a summary of how your company plans to reach its marketing objectives.
Every business wants to grow and improve, but not everyone knows how to set goals that make that happen.
That’s where SMART goals come in – SMART meaning specific, measurable, actionable, realistic, and timebound.
Essentially, it’s all about formulating specific goals that need to be met within a designated timeframe, with clear metrics to track.
Let’s say you want to increase your sales. Saying ‘our goal is to increase sales’ is much too vague – when have they increased enough for that goal to be complete? Instead,aim for something like ‘we will increase our sales by 5% within 10 months by entering into a new marketing partnership’.
In the world of ecommerce, having a clear and consistent brand identity helps you stay relevant in customers’ minds. After all, if they can’t tell what your mission or values are, they’ll be more likely to forget you – or worse, mix you up with another brand.
That’s why it’s crucial to make sure your company always acts in accordance with your mission and values.
Having a clear sense of brand identity will help guide all of your business decisions. For instance, when you expand your partnerships, you’ll want to seek out like-minded individuals, and when you launch new products, you’ll be looking for things that suit your ethos.
Just make sure that your values are consistent. For instance, in some markets, eco-friendly products are highly popular. It makes sense to promote your eco-friendly items in those markets – but only if you show that you’re still committed to the same value in other places as well. Otherwise, people may question your commitment.
The more data-based your analysis is, the more accurate your resulting conclusions will be.
You can draw up highly useful analytics when you manage unstructured data efficiently. That’s why the market for big data is growing as exponentially as it is:
You can use this data to analyze lots of aspects of your target markets. For example, you could gather intel on the historical state of the market, which helps you make accurate predictions about its future. You can also compare data on competitors, learning from their mistakes and successes alike to improve the way your own business approaches the market.
Even the most perfect plan doesn’t execute itself; you’ve got to take action for that to happen.
Once you’ve ironed out all the details and crafted the ideal digital marketing plan, it’s time to move into the next stage. That’s when you set things in motion – bring all your marketing channels up to speed and taking your first steps into that new market.
You’ve got a basic plan, so now it’s time to consider the specifics – we’ll look at some of the best strategies you can use to help you make a great impact on your target market worldwide.
Bear in mind, however, that you can’t run before you can walk. In the same way, you can’t offer online shopping in your store to customers all over the world if you’re still asking questions like ‘what is ip technology’ and ‘how do I convert my prices into foreign currencies fairly’.
Make sure you’ve invested in the basics before you start using these strategies.
The title of ‘global ecommerce’ might trick you into thinking you’re marketing towards one homogenous group, but that’s not the case. In fact, retail ecommerce varies greatly by region, right down to the rate at which sales grow:
To that end, it can be hugely helpful to partner up with agencies that already regularly engage with your target audiences. This helps you get valuable data and inform your approaches. For example, agencies could tell you about things like demand for particular products, existing competitors, and the average income of your target audience members.
You want the customer experience to be as comfortable as possible – which it can’t be if customers are struggling to understand your website.
Localizing your content helps keep it relatable and accessible for international audiences. It ensures a better user experience for people who might not be fluent in English, or who don’t understand your cultural references in the non-localized version.
There’s more to localization than just translation, however.
Online shopping isn’t necessarily the same all over the world. Sure, any ecommerce customer base consists of people who are used to going to a product page, filling up a digital shopping cart, and then heading to checkout, but the finer details can vary greatly.
For example, cultural references like pop culture icons, idioms, jokes, and historical items are going to be vastly different across countries. Localization addresses this, adjusting references so they’re relatable to new audiences and minimizing inaccessibility.
In recent years, parcel shipping has seen a massive boom, particularly in China:
By using international shipping, you can stay ahead of this trend and keep people coming back to your ecommerce platform. After all, customers can’t really buy from an ecommerce store that doesn’t let them order packages to be delivered to their house!
If customers are comfortable using their internationally-recognized credit cards to pay for items in your shop, you should give them the chance to do so. This helps them make purchases on their own terms, which can help with driving your conversion rates upwards.
You can easily manage payment methods with tools like Shopify Plus, which are designed to make the online shopping experience as seamless as possible.
Warehouse management is an important thing to consider in all markets. However, it’s especially important for global ecommerce businesses, which are likely to have warehouses in multiple locations.
Rather than shipping everything from one central location, you can reduce shipping costs by shipping from the same (or neighboring) countries. You can also bypass customs charges a buyer might encounter, increasing their chances of purchasing from you.
As with the localization of your site, it’s not just about the basics. Localizing warehouse management can also mean assigning stock based on market preferences.
Expanding your business to new countries and territories comes with new rules and laws to operate within, such as ones that regulate data protection and safety.
The more you know about these, the better. Even if you think you’ve got a solid grasp on them, it never hurts to review them and make sure you’re fully compliant with any regulations.
For example, the rules surrounding taxation and customs tend to vary wildly depending on locations. Items that can be shipped to some countries easily might be prohibited or strongly restricted in others, for example.
Just to be on the safe side, it’s good to check that all your products can be shipped internationally without being held back in customs. This can happen for a few reasons, including unexpected surcharges, incomplete documentation, or even just the fact that your product contains a material that’s not approved in the destination.
You’ll also want to know about heavier (or hopefully lighter!) taxation charges on particular items.
With over three-quarters of customers contacting customer support on the phone, it’s particularly important to meet them halfway and have agents ready to speak to them in real-time, keeping them waiting for as little time as possible.
If you’re unsure about which hours will see a heavier load, you can always use statistics and analytics to determine when your customer service portals see the highest demand and distribute agent hours accordingly.
One option worth considering is live chat. This lets customers connect with your company at all hours of the day (and night), making it easier to resolve issues round the clock. You could also host your contact centers in different countries, so you maximize the number of time zones your centers cover.
The world of international ecommerce is always growing and changing, which is why you’ve got to have the right tactics to handle that evolution. Here are 11 of the best practices you can use to succeed at international ecommerce.
Knowledge is power, so it’s useful to arm yourself with as much of it as possible. Some of the best tools for doing this for free include:
Sometimes, it’s a good idea to start off slowly instead of immediately expanding all the way.
In this case, that can mean beginning your journey to becoming a global ecommerce brand with a smaller-scale expansion. You could add one or two countries to the list of places you ship to and market within, for example, or you could offer a limited product range before expanding.
If the response is overwhelmingly positive, you can always keep scaling up from there. Your customers will be able to see that you’re committed to expanding sustainably and continuing to provide great service throughout the process.
It’s much more difficult to make ‘oops, we scaled too quickly and now we have to stop shipping to your country’ look good, by contrast.
If you’re using a platform that’s restricted to just one country, it’s well worth making a platform migration to a global solution- it’s easier than it sounds and it’ll create lots of opportunities for you.
At the same time, you can also choose to start out by offering your products on established international marketplaces like Amazon. This lets you start making sales while you’re still figuring out the details.
Once you’ve established your client base and secured a steady demand, you can then make the leap and move away from these marketplaces and onto your own platform.
As mentioned, localization is about more than just translation. It includes things like adjusting cultural references to suit different audiences, as well as re-fitting your products within new contexts.
One example of localization is in search engine optimization (SEO). A keyword might perfectly translate into a target language, but the translated word might not be relevant to the new language’s search engine algorithm.
On a more tangible level, product offerings are a major part of localization. Clothing retailers will know well that southern hemisphere countries like Australia don’t demand summer clothes at the same time as the US or Europe, for example.
The best way to approach localization is to include every aspect of your ecommerce store in the localization project. That means that if you’re focusing on content marketing, your content needs to be made accessible to every customer in every location you’re marketing in.
In 2020, the top online payment (digital or mobile wallet) accounted for less than half of all online transactions.
What this tells us is that over half of all users preferred to use a different payment method. That goes a long way to showing how important it is to offer your customers’ preferred payment options – and to provide as many options as you can.
It’s also important to consider highly specific payment options popular in particular countries or regions, like WeChat Pay in China or Fawry in Egypt. If you want to make it easy for Chinese and Egyptian customers to shop with you, you’ve got to let them pay in ways they find comfortable.
The more shipping options you give your customers, the more incentives you’re providing for them to choose your products.
For example, you might have an express shipment option that costs slightly more, next to a non-express version that’s a bit cheaper. Just by providing these two choices, you’re letting customers decide for themselves if they’d rather have the product sooner in exchange for a higher price, or later for cheaper.
In the same way, you can only benefit from letting customers select from a broader range of couriers. If they’ve had a bad experience with one specific courier, you don’t want that to affect their choice to shop with you.
It’s also worth checking how international shipping will impact your returns policy.
Whether customers are reaching your website using their hand-me-down flip phone, an average smartphone, or a super modern voice over ip phone, they should have an easy time shopping with you. That’s especially important when more ecommerce happens on mobile each year:
Not everyone has time to grab their laptop when they’re making a quick purchase. Help these customers out by giving them a super easy-to-use mobile version of your site.
Prioritizing the mobile experience also means setting the formats of your content to present well on a mobile device. Your mobile users should be able to use all features of your site easily – they shouldn’t need to zoom awkwardly to read text, for example. The experience needs to be tailored to the needs and demands of their devices.
Social media platforms are only becoming more popular – and that can be a really good thing for you.
You can meet your customers where they are by focusing on social media marketing strategies that engage consumers.
The best way to engage customers is to make sure you’re staying on trend. You’ll need to put in work to monitor changing trends so you can always stay on top of them – including trends that vary by country. If you’re using a geo-locked tool, you might want to consider data transfer to a broader, global solution.
Also, it’s a good idea to figure out which social media platforms are most popular in your target location, so you can once again meet customers where they are.
When around 80% of marketers consider influencer marketing to be effective, that’s a good sign that they’re onto something.
Partnering with an influencer is a great way to connect with your target audience. The influencer already knows your audience well, and is a part of their community. This helps their content marketing feel more authentic, which in turn helps to boost your engagement.
A local influencer acts as an intermediary between your global brand and a smaller, more local community you’re marketing to. They can help you make your content relatable to that specific audience, instead of broadly useful for worldwide marketing.
Your distributors are already partnered with your company. They know what they’re capable of – and that might not mean being limited to operating within one country.
If your existing distributors happen to be able to bring your goods to customers in new locations, you can improve your relationship with them by continuing to rely on them as you expand.
At the same time, you can provide them with a different kind of opportunity if they’re considering multinational expansion, but haven’t taken the plunge yet. You can collaborate with them and offer to use them as your primary distributors in each country they expand to, encouraging them to go ahead with their own expansion while benefiting your company.
Different governments have different rules about the role they play in the world of ecommerce – and you can use that fact to your advantage. For example, in China, the government has been investing in internet infrastructure that lets more potential customers reach your online store without you needing to spend extra money.
This is another area where extensive research can only benefit your company. You might find that one of the countries you’re planning to expand to offers subsidies for ecommerce businesses in your sector, in which case you can count on governmental support.
Going global comes with a lot of potential benefits for your ecommerce business. Most notably, you can expand your reach, drive sales, strengthen your brand identity, and turn more site visitors into loyalists.
Sadly, it doesn’t just happen on its own. You’ve got to put in the right kind of effort and perform efficient task management, as per the strategies we’ve covered in this article.
It’s worth bearing in mind that the right marketing partnerships can help you in just about every area of your global marketing strategy. Whether you’re working to improve your overseas reach or focusing on the technical side of things with warehouse management, partnerships help you get it done.
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