Globalization brings exciting opportunities and enormous challenges for all parts of a business, but nowhere is that more apparent than in the marketing department.
On the one hand, digital channels have opened up global markets in new and exciting ways; on the other, appealing to a worldwide audience adds a layer of complexity to marketing campaigns. Today's consumers continue to demand messaging that's more individualized, compelling, and real-time than ever before, and that's as true overseas as it is in the States.
At Aprimo, for instance, we've been growing our European presence, adding capabilities, and bringing integrated marketing management solutions marketers worldwide. That means we've had to refocus on learning to appreciate the preferences of the European consumer. I believe it's imperative for other marketers in the US to do the same.
Many American companies fail to recognize the nuances of marketing in Europe, even though those subtleties are vital to building a strong customer experience.
If you're marketing to a European audience for the first time, it's easy to make a mistake if you don't examine the differences between American and European consumers.
Here are five common marketing pitfalls we've learned to avoid after talking to our colleagues and clients across the ocean.
1. Broad-Based Marketing
Europe is culturally diverse, and culture plays a key role in personal identities and values for Europeans. Accordingly, our European teams recommend that American marketers adopt a country-by-country strategy, complete with localized content and local experts for each culture and market.
In reality, you should already be doing so in your American marketing programs: It's no surprise that consumers build better connections with brands that cater to their cultural nuances.
If you want to gain competitive advantage in Europe, consider dispersing marketing teams across the continent instead of sitting a team in one country and hoping that team can engage all European consumers.
I've heard from our marketing teams in the UK and Germany that American marketers talk far too much about their "great" products, "amazing" offers, "awesome" service, and so forth.
Obviously, you need to believe in the brand you represent, and it's only natural to be self-promotional. However, keep in mind that European consumers tend to appreciate modesty, and what you consider justifiable bragging rights in the US might be construed as embellishment there.
If you're marketing to a European audience, comb through your messaging and ease up on the "firsts" and "bests" when describing your product or solution.
3. Being Too American-Centric
Europeans are likely to disengage if your messaging is filled with references to American culture, business, etc. A good example is the term "Fortune 500," an accolade that is ubiquitous in the US but doesn't have the same impact with European.
Take a close look at the terminology you use in your content and strike references that are overly specific to life in the US. Keep your message fresh and relevant to your European audience.
4. Violations of Online Privacy
Sweeping new European Union e-privacy directives (PDF) took effect in 2012, and now marketers operating in any EU country must obtain consent from European users before implementing cookies or other technologies to capture online visitor information. Essentially, that means cookies can be placed only on machines if the user or subscriber has opted in.
According to our UK marketing team, it's vital to use British spelling in UK marketing materials.
At first glance, this may seem a trivial issue: Does it really matter if you spell "colour" or "humour" with or without a "u"? But nuances matter when you're creating a relevant customer experience.
Using British spelling tells UK consumers you're marketing to them—not someone in Texas or California.
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The tips I've outlined are a good start, but they certainly don't encompass all the differences you need to keep in mind when selling to the European market.
As in the US, near-perfect marketing can come only from doing your research and taking the time to get to know your customer.
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