Expansion Guide III: Brand Building, Performance and Digital Marketing

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Expansion into foreign markets offers a unique opportunity to expand the business and build the brand across borders. "Branding" is an investment that does not happen by itself. Getting marketing right is therefore crucial. Welcome to the next installment of our guide, in which we'll focus on brand building and the power of digital marketing.

There is always an analysis at the beginning. If we want to be successful and take the brand further, we need to get to know the specifics of the target market. First of all, we need to determine whether the brand is a manufacturer, a shop or a combination of the two, and who our customer is.

 "When entering a foreign market, it is important to identify the competition and the customer; in the final analysis, these will be the factors that most influence success or failure. It is also essential to ask whether there is a place in the market and what is the appropriate communication strategy to reach the customer," advises Martin Slavjětínský from the Heureka Group. "The data obtained will help us build the brand and the initial investment is very worthwhile." 

Information about visitors to the website is also essential data. Google Analytics is used to analyse them, which focuses on 4 main sections:

  • Audience – visitor identification

  • Acquisition – where they came from

  • Behavior – what they do on the page

  • Conversions – do they do what we want?

It's a great tool to move us closer to our goal and increase brand awareness. Plus, Google offers it for free.

Digital marketing as an ideal tool for expansion

The power of digital marketing continues to grow. The international online world offers a wealth of potential customers that we can attract by choosing the right marketing strategies and thus significantly increase the company's revenue growth. However, László Szabó of Growww Digital says that the average exporter addresses only 60% of the market potential.

How to enter a foreign market?

"There are three market penetration strategies. The first is to invest huge amounts of money on all kinds of media and maximize market share regardless of the price. However, this strategy is not suitable for SMEs. A more viable route is to focus on profitability. Ideally, I recommend a combination of the two strategies, so we start by leveraging those channels that have proven themselves at home and that we can scale, while taking care of long-term brand building."

Advertising and the secret of success abroad

László recommends starting with Google advertising. Google Ads is a powerful online tool that allows you to set up a variety of advertising. It works on the cost-per-click principle and the advantage is that it's easy to run a campaign anywhere in the world within 15 minutes.

When it comes to using Google Ads in practice, Growww Digital provides an interesting case study. Customers of tyre retailer Popgom, a subsidiary of Michelin, are influenced by two factors: price and weather. Growww Digital compared Popgom's prices against competitors and gathered weather information. They merged and then combined the collected data into an automation program called Roiminer and advertised via API through Google Ads. What have they managed to achieve thanks to this advertising? With favourable conditions, transactions recorded an annual increase of 266% during the first months, even reaching the 376% mark in the high season, a more than fourfold increase.

Source: Growww Digital

So how to succeed abroad?

"When people ask me about the secret of success, I usually say that success has a price and not a secret. The success of online shops abroad is based on three pillars. The first is the market itself and the demand for what we sell. The second pillar is good competitiveness, not only in terms of price, but also in terms of customer service, terms and conditions, returns. The third pillar is effective customer acquisition in new markets."

What other online tools can be used?

In addition to Google Ads, price comparisons, affiliate networks, Facebook advertising, email campaigns and inspiration from local competitors are also suitable. Social networks are definitely among the "must haves" of every online shop. In the context of export, it is one of the most used channels to reach audiences in the target country. Pavel Němeček from Blueglue/Acomware advises on advertising on social networks: "If your online shop operates on multiple domains, it's ideal to have a separate advertising account for each country. In my experience, the vast majority of clients want to control the budget of each country separately and at the same time set different KPIs. Product catalogues should also have their own export. The main thing to bear in mind when expanding is that every nation is unique and what is true here may not be true in another country. That's why the choice of individual social networks is important."

Communication strategy on social networks

"A bad product with great marketing works better than a great product with bad marketing," Blueglue.

From a marketing perspective, social media can be seen as an investment. Initially, they cost money and energy, but if we set the strategy right and are patient, the worries turn into joys over time and start generating returns. In our country, Facebook (all ages, covers all needs of digital users), LinkedIn (primarily for business purposes) and Instagram (visual, younger audience) are particularly popular.

Social media is about people and therefore customer research is essential, bearing in mind that each market is specific, and each country has different customer behaviour.

"One market certainly does not equal all markets. We've seen really diametrically opposed behaviour with many clients, whether it was Czech Republic versus Slovakia versus Hungary," says Pavel Paradýs of Blueglue/Acomware, "as an example, we can look at the Netherlands versus the Czech Republic. The Netherlands is a cycling superpower and people’s primary transport is the bicycle. If you offer an automotive product range to such a customer, you probably won't get much business. In the Czech Republic, on the other hand, there is an insane overuse of cars. If you offer a Czech customer a car accessory, you will certainly be more successful than in the Netherlands, where the customer would rather have disc brakes for his/her bicycle. It's really important to take the trouble to research the market." The advantage for advertisers is that Facebook knows too much personal information about users, which allows them to target advertising and tap into the consumer's subconscious and work with it further.

However, according to Paul, companies' expectations are often straightforward. The road to success doesn't have to be immediate. There is no need to give up quickly, it is important to plan the steps and define the goals correctly.

Source: Blueglue

What are the advertising opportunities in the surrounding markets?

Dušan Smoljak from Acomware analysed the key indicators for advertising in the surrounding markets. He focused on the internet population and compared the share of search engines and comparison sites. Google clearly dominates in all countries.

 "The trend of using Google Ads is right. Thanks to Google, you can get anywhere, on any surface and in any location. However, it is worth trying other options in foreign markets," advises Dušan.

With Microsoft Advertising (formerly Bing Ads), the ad will be shown in Germany and Austria; other markets will be shown on partner search engines. The campaign types are very similar to Google Ads, so you can import a campaign into Bing and run it separately. Other tools include Adform, Criteo, RTBhouse, Amazon Advertising (Germany), Spotify advertising, Apple Search Ads, Waze Ads. There are also specialized search engines focused on specific categories, for example the well-known Glami in our country oriented on fashion, or Biano and Favi on furniture.

If you decide to try advertising on one of the neighbouring markets, Dušan recommends the feed management application Mergado, which is a handy intermediary between the online shop and the advertising platform.

So what to keep in mind when expanding?

Listening to the customer's needs and tailoring the offer to the specifics of the local market is a strategic step on which we can build success. Thanks to digital marketing tools, analysis and the right communication strategy, we have a unique opportunity to develop the brand beyond our borders.

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