How to successfully market online to an international audience

Grant Robinson
Being prepared for international expansion will give you the edge when marketing globally. What works in one country may not work in another. Make sure you do not fail to understand the nuanced differences between cultures and regions. These easy to remember tips form a solid base for a successful international marketing strategy.

You have an appetite for online sales. Locally, you want to increase business to a broader and more well-targeted audience. You may also be thinking it is time to expand internationally.
The web might be worldwide, but reaching an international audience isn’t automatic. There are still considerations that need to be made when tackling global consumers in the international marketplace.
No matter what, you want your target audience to land on your site, be engaged, smile and think “Exactly what I am looking for!”


The lack of hierarchy on the web allows you to compete directly with six-figure budgets and full marketing teams. Your brand has a competitive advantage in a number of ways.

  • Like in guerrilla warfare, small size means the ability to adapt and respond quickly, turning adversity into opportunity.
  • You can develop person to person relationships and truly connect with your online customers and prospects.
  • Genuine communication leads to informed authenticity in presentations, rather than slick sales tactics.

You know you have what they want, but who exactly are they and where are they located? After developing a solid idea of the persona outlines and demographic to which your brand appeals, it is now time to mingle with them online. Before laying on the charm, make sure that you have some basics covered.
Before laying on the charm, make sure that you have some basics covered.


Locally, everything has to run smooth. Make sure all your third parties are online and functioning. You don’t want people getting snakey with you on Twitter or Facebook.
Just be certain your website is easy to navigate. Make sure:

  • Your email server is pulling all your new email.
  • Your third party online shop provider and funds processor is working.
  • Search engines are processing your site properly.
  • You haven’t accidentally blocked your website from any servers as well. A simple oversight that can cause serious site traffic problems.

With an eye on the international market, the above must be a main priority. Functionality is appreciated everywhere. To optimise the experience further, consider adding a high-level of site functionality desirable to consumers in your target country.
Data can tell you what they are, but not who they are. Social media is the perfect vehicle for customising your campaigns. Details give relevancy and can be tweaked to suit your target customer base. Relevancy means conversions. Conversions lead to sales.


The ever-evolving social media-sphere provides an open and rule-free playground for online marketers. Now, you can reach across cultural, linguistic and imaginary global lines with ease.
Social media is underpinned by a pan-cultural mish-mash, broadly representing humanity itself. Everyone has different expectations when it comes to brand identity, product choice, loyalty and personal preference.
Social networks, email lists, online groups and networking sites all provide fertile ground for your target market to congregate and interact. Communicating to your target audience provides you with intimate insight into the way your strategy can be sculpted and honed.
Assuming things about your audience can lead to wobbly strategies and poorly targeted information. This is your opportunity to develop meaningful connections. You must get out there and network. Not only on the internet, but on the street as well. Discover what is going on in your consumers’ minds and develop some contacts.


While advancements in information technology secure globalisation as a true cultural force, there has yet to emerge a truly homogenous global culture with no communication barriers. This means that there are a number of customisations your site requires to be optimally global.
One consideration to remember is design and media. For example, colours and symbols need to translate well. Where white can be the symbol of purity in one nation, it can represent death in another. Some cultural research of your target market can bypass any potentially embarrassing faux pas.
Translators and interpreters are essential for localising your content. What may be a beautiful sentence in English is sometimes untranslatable into other languages. Using a translation app will likely result in text that reads like gibberish to your potentially international clientele.

Yuqo quotesWell-interpreted work provides local nuance with endearing slang and colloquialisms.

If your target is the whole world, then ultimate flexibility is needed. Pan-cultural symbols or emojis should be used in place of text in info-graphics. If you plan to make your site consumable by nationalities not catered to directly by translators, then it needs to be perfectly machine readable. Test your layout and copy through a number of machine translators to be sure. Your best bet? Hire native translators and skip the arduous online generator.


Social media commentators have remarked that a key to engaging international customers is recognising that each country has a cultural filter through which all media is processed. Interestingly, only a quarter of all internet users speak English.
Failure to understand such differences can lead to marketing mistakes. The gamble of international marketing is that what works in one country might not work in another. It is foolish to assume the product, promotional appeal, pricing policy and retail channels will all function abroad as they do locally. Refusing to adapt your strategy to international markets can lead to blunders that cost you and your website dearly.
Additionally, product names and promotional phrases must be appraised when targeting an international audience. An inappropriate word can unintentionally incite offence or ridicule. For example, the word “clock” when spoken in Mandarin is very similar to the word “death.” Using a real-life example, Snapple once failed to gain market momentum in Japan as the Japanese audiences preferred clearer and less sweet green tea.
After diligent research, you may find something remarkable.
To proceed with conviction, marketers must understand the extent to which variations between consumers of different nations and cultures exist. They can then confidently develop effective strategies to use in each origin market.
After diligent research, you may find something remarkable. There is just as much diversity among populations as there is between nationalities. It is entirely possible that expansion of your potential customer base lies within, rather than without. Subcultures can be a doorway to a larger domestic market or a foray into international expansion, as many span the globe.


Subcultures are defined in much broader terms other than emo, goth or nerd. Gender, age, generation, sexual orientation and parental status can all be considered subcultures in need of their own customised marketing language. Male, female and non-binary, millennial and gen X or Y, parent or child, free humans can all have individually tailored approaches.
Although traditional roles and identities are quickly eroding on the internet, in the real world, subcultural traits are still observable. The elderly have a distinct set of needs compared to young clubbers. These are inescapable and intrinsic realities we all share, regardless of online identity.
Your intimate knowledge of your products can help you identify subculture population densities that are more inclined to become consumers. Some subcultures such as anime and steampunk are heavily populated online as well as in real world cosplay scenarios. An exceptionally good living is enjoyed by those businesses already catering to such micro-markets.


Consumerism, the buying and selling of goods can be ever more customised to target audiences thanks to data analysis and social media.
However, the switched-on marketer is aware that purchase decisions are often contingent on deep-rooted emotional motivations. Motivations which are then justified with logic.
Identifying the root emotional relationship of your target audience to their purchase decision is your fundamental goal. First, build emotional desire, then reinforce with facts and data.
We can certainly help you by providing ardent writing and creatively engaging video campaigns that will hook prospects in once they land on your site.
Yet, it is your attention to detail, skilful interpretation of data and site customisation that will mesmerise the credit cards out of consumer wallets.