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Why running Digital Marketing globally is getting tougher

Building and managing a brand across several markets has never been easy. But geopolitical trends, new laws and regulations and technology development demand global digital teams to rethink the way they work.

Global marketing is about orchestrating multiple requirements. When developing communication (from TV spot to website) across multiple markets the challenges are always the same: Striking the balance between adapting to local consumer needs and expectations on the one hand and protecting the brand identity and maximizing efficiencies through standardization on the other.

Digital Marketing has provided some opportunities to steer communication much more closely than its traditional counterparts. With a global mastersite, managing one of the key assets of the brand has given headquarters more control and increased efficiency. Analytics tools allow an almost real-time view on the performance of your marketing assets.
But there are challenges and research from Forrester even points out larger trends that add a new layer of complexity.


One of them are geopolitical trends. In the current political and economic climate consumers show tendencies towards regionalism and localism and this is also fueled by an increased ecological awareness. Regional (or even private) brands are much more flexible to adapt to local consumer values, needs and digital behavior. And digital allows them to scale their messaging quicker and tap into a crowd of fans and influencers to amplify their messages than ever before.


Cultural differences should be considered in design and user experience (compare websites from the Western world to the more “cluttered” versions in Asia).
But they also affect larger strategic choices: Due to trust issues Chinese consumers don’t like to submit their mail address to companies. As a brand trying to build more direct relationships with their consumer this proves difficult when your access to the consumer needs to go through WeChat or Tmall.


Adding to this are the regional rules & regulations, such as the GDPR in Europe. Brands have to take the various technical precautions market by market to be compliant. Simply implementing the global CRM & personalization strategy as a one-size-fits-all concept is almost impossible.


The various Marketing Technologies should make marketing management easier, but many tools were often not fully built to scale for true internationalization; Either in managing multiple languages gracefully, integrating with other global systems or in allowing flexibility for the local user to adapt to local processes and demands.
Now technology solutions are evolving that tackle these issues much better. Whether through so-called Consumer Experience Suites, Product Information Management Systems (PIM) or Translation Management Services, global workflows and data management can be improved significantly.
The challenge is in recognizing the value, adapting and testing these solutions quickly and rolling them out in a way that all users use them effectively from day one, even in the remotest affiliate or their agency.

Think local, act local

In the new global reality, headquarter teams must hand off more creative control to local markets, providing more of a strategic framework, rather than strict rules of standardization. They should facilitate collaboration and continuous learning within the global network. And it helps to differentiate markets by clusters based on digital maturity (of the market and of the internal team) to prevent a one-size-fits-all approach. Leveraging the right tech (and successfully managing roll-out and implementation) will then help to make workflows and best practice sharing easier.

And it will keep local marketers’ hands free to do what they can do best: Shape the digital experience for the local consumers.


Photo by Lance Asper on Unsplash

Matthias Ihnken
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