International Digital Marketing: 5 Big Mistakes to Avoid



Along with traditional advertising and marketing copy, one of the main touch points between brands and their potential customers worldwide is the content they publish online. Web content defines the brand and shapes its international digital marketing strategy.

Web content, as well as advertising and marketing copy, deserves a proper translation, proofreading and cultural assessment before being released into any foreign market.


Major brands know the growing importance of adapting their company website, as well as their email and social media content strategies, to each country they want to reach out to. Without the right approach, however, it’s extremely easy to encounter one of the most common pitfalls of cross-cultural marketing, ‘the translation blunder’ putting the overall brand reputation at risk.


We’ve put together a list of the worst (but avoidable) mistakes, caused by carelessness, lack of analysis or misjudgements, that brands should definitely bear in mind when it comes to planning an effective international digital marketing strategy.


1. Entrusting the translation to software

Quality, not quantity. Having a website translated into several different languages is good, but you should not to give in to the temptation of free translation. Using Google Translate IS NOT a good idea. You may think it can save you time and money, but actually it causes more harm than good.

The reason is simple: software and machines are literal. They cannot render accurate readable intelligent translation. The best they can achieve is conveying the most basic meaning, and rather badly at that.

A poor translation (imperfect grammar, spelling errors, word-by-word translation) gives an overall impression of lack of professionalism, which will most likely disappoint and annoy your audience. It’s definitely worth turning to a professional translation agency that understands brand voice and works with experienced copywriters and translators. Don’t leave yourself to the mercy of machines.


2. Overlooking cultural diversity

One size doesn’t fit all. Cultural differences between countries have been observed when it comes to payment preferences, web design and tone of voice/level of formality. Even imagery, colours and formats that fit very well with certain cultures might be considered totally inappropriate in others.

For instance, as pointed out in this article by Econsultancy, people in China are much more likely to trust a company that appears “local”, so you will need an in-country domain name.

Here again, there are no shortcuts. Good knowledge of these cultural issues can be achieved only through proper research into the targeted market. This is again where an experienced agency can offer guidance, market feedback and support.


3. Failing to adapt SEO to local markets

You may have been working hard improving your SEO strategy in your domestic market, hopefully you’re seeing the results, so you will know how important it is in driving the success of a business. There is no point in ignoring SEO adaptation when it comes to creating content for your international digital marketing.

In order to establish what terms your potential customers are searching for in foreign language markets, it is absolutely essential to assign the task to professionals who work in their native language and have a deep knowledge of SEO.


4. Sending standardised email marketing campaigns

When planning your international digital marketing strategy, bear in mind that communicating internationally is much more than gathering and sending emails to a larger number of prospects.

According to this article from U Talk Marketing, what brands are most likely to forget when it comes to running international campaigns are seasonality, time zones and behavioural and cultural expectations of customers.

In addition to that, there are legal issues. If sending your newsletter at the wrong time might have – at worst – negative effects on its open and click rate, being unaware of laws on privacy regulations and use of personal details could seriously harm your business.


5. Not having separate social media accounts

Also in the realm of social media, brands should ideally find the right balance between a central and local approach by conveying the same core messages and then adapting them accordingly to each country’s language, sensitivity, sense of humour and cultural taste.

By looking for professionals who can translate your social media content and – at the same time – keep your message consistent, it is possible to get the most out of your presence on social media and boost your international digital marketing.


To discover more about how we can help you with your international digital marketing, call us on +44 (0)20 7294 7710 or click here to email us for further information or a quick quotation for your next project.