The constant push for innovation in the world of digital marketing presents organisations with plenty of opportunities to rethink their business models. Brands of today have unprecedented means to integrate technology, design and cultural awareness into their digital strategies.
Yet time and time again, that digital strategy is disconnected from a brand’s overall customer experience (CX). Without configuring all components of the digital strategy to the desired CX and placing the customer journey at the forefront of all planning and execution, a brand can’t realise its true potential. Instead, brands must look towards delivering a fully integrated, meaningful experience.
The outside-in approach
There is little doubt that customer experiences drive profitability. Recent Gartner research found that 89% of companies expect to compete mostly on the basis of customer experience. With this in mind, organisations must define not only the CX strategy that acts as a framework for their wider digital campaigns, but also one that resonates.
To achieve this, companies should assess their digital engagement with consumers from the perspective of consumers themselves. This method, known as the outside-in approach, takes customer value as both its starting and end points. Brands have long talked about journey mapping and customer personas as tools to help form their CX strategies. But now, plotting the journey—or the sum of interactions customers make with a company—allows brands to identify their customers’ pain points and use that information as a blueprint for the entire business model.
To successfully deliver relevant and useful content across regions, brands must first develop an understanding of the cultural preferences held within each market. Some companies are unnerved by the prospect of ensuring their content is fit for global purpose—but this is a must for multinational brands looking to connect with their customers and ultimately drive brand loyalty.
First and foremost, an internal framework for localisation decision-making is crucial. Through this, individual markets can provide feedback on how their regions perceive your brand. Communication silos will inhibit the effectiveness of your infrastructure, resulting in a lack of clarity and consistency on a global level. The company culture should instead foster open dialogue to understand differing markets’ changing needs and preferences. This alignment will allow for greater visibility across markets, efficient production of content and a globally consistent end-product.
Failing to both identify and understand the distinctive features of individual markets will lead to broad-brush content that disconnects local markets. An integrated structure, one which promotes unity between HQ and regional offices, will allow for seamless replication of content across worldwide.
Tailoring to specific needs
Translation and transcreation are the most practical solutions for engaging global audiences, but this is, of course, largely dependent on the nature of the content.
Then again, some messages are of such specific cultural relevance that in-market production makes more sense. In these instances, a one-size-fits-all model cannot apply when adapting the content to other markets. Going back to the outside-in approach, brands must work backwards from the customer and consider the cultural preferences of each market—only then can they identify the best model for adaption.
If they don’t consider specific market needs when adapting content, brands face a disengaged audience. Let’s look at an example of when a catch-all approach missed the mark. When British retailer Marks & Spencer (M&S) entered the Chinese market, the company’s unfamiliarity with Chinese consumer habits brought a few challenges:
English-named products, then poorly translated into Chinese, caused widespread confusion and unmet expectations.
Chinese consumers generally favour smaller-sized retailers, yet M&S opted for the multi-storey department complex successful in the UK.
The retailer placed a heavy emphasis on promoting its renowned clothing line, but even clothing hadn’t been adapted. Sizes were available only in British and European options and not designed to accommodate the typically smaller Chinese frame.
As long as the global market continues to diversify, there will always be a large and nuanced spectrum of consumer needs. To maintain relevance, an engaged audience and ultimately profitability, brands must identify these needs or habits in every target market. The most appropriate content will follow.