Navigating multiple languages, currencies, preferences and expectations is complicated, to say the least. So, how can international brands create a customer experience that appeals to a global audience? Here are some tips.

Olivier Schott, founder and chief marketing officer, Scalefast.

Olivier Schott, founder and chief marketing officer, Scalefast.

This is the fifth and last in a series of articles on international e-commerce. See the earlier articles on data and privacy rules, tax and regulatory issues, international fulfillment and tariff and legal trends.

In their recent report on building a “hyper relevant” brand, Accenture placed an emphasis on understanding the context of the consumer.

Report co-authors Robert Wollan, Rachel Barton, Masataka Ishikawa and Kevin Quiring conclude that hyper-relevance requires two steps: Utilizing more personalized data about customers and gaining the trust of customers. In other words, personalization is only as valuable as your brand’s ability to build consumer trust.

Expanding to new markets means understanding those markets — and having those markets understand you.

For international brands, this is a multifaceted challenge. Navigating multiple languages, currencies, preferences and expectations is complicated, to say the least. So, how can international brands create a customer experience that appeals to a global audience?

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When speaking to an international audience, it’s important to make target customers feel comfortable.

Let’s start with the basics.

Building a Brand That Resonates Across the Globe

“While there are many companies out there catering to various products and services, it’s the brand that resonates with customers,” Namraata Badheka at PushCrew argues. “Your brand can make a customer associate a feeling with your company. It’s your brand that differentiates you from the others and communicates a positive feeling or a negative one, to your customers.”

At the international level, however, the very definition of branding broadens a little. “In addition to the mental image your brand evokes in consumers, there also exists a group of ideas or associations consumers have regarding your company,” writes Richard Aviles at Sales & Orders. Aviles points out that user experience, customer interactions, associations and feelings are all part of successful branding.

Globalization With Your Market, Localization With Your Language

Expanding to new markets means understanding those markets — and having those markets understand you. Mayflower Language Services reports that 75 percent of consumers choose products that have information available in their native language.

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If your site and content are the same across all geographies and channels, you may be missing out on an entire audience. Lavish Kumar at nopCommerce agrees, writing that “making your online store site multilingual is an effective way of acquiring greater sales.”

Translation doesn’t have to be an arduous process. Claire Eskwith at Amplexor notes that digital translation, localization and content management tools are making this easier every day. At the same time, brands should be careful that going multilingual doesn’t damage the user experiences they have been developing.

This is where having strong partners becomes key. Your company will ideally hire a localization company or a full-service e-commerce solutions provider to localize your brand for the markets it serves.

Stepping Up the Personalization Game

Personalization is not the same thing as branding from a global perspective, but it does answer some of the challenges of selling across borders. At the same time, it is one of the most challenging parts of marketing.

Research from Evergage found that only 12 percent of marketers are satisfied with their personalization efforts — a number the firm attributes to the challenge of bringing customer information together.

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So, what should personalization look like in practice? Tina Mulqueen, CEO at Kindred Marketing Company, says the idea is to offer a winning experience to the target audience from the start, encouraging interaction with your brand — and then to use the customer information you collect to offer even greater personalization down the line.

In terms of introducing personalization to a globalized brand, Kashyap Kompella at EContentMag recommends homing in on a single channel and a handful of tools. If you’re looking to improve conversion on the international site, for example, focus on A/B testing tools. If you want to scale a personalized experience, you may do well to invest in a marketing platform that can handle customer data.

Personalization at this level is not necessarily easy, but it’s a worthwhile investment.

“Companies that deliver customers timely, relevant, and truly personal messages … can build lasting bonds that drive growth,” write McKinsey consultants Julien Boudet, Brian Gregg, Jane Wong and Gustavo Schuler.

Scalefast provides e-commerce technology and services for global brands.

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