Kevin asked great global content marketing questions, and we had a wonderful time chatting about the challenges and best practices of scaling content across regions.
If you are part of national or regional B2B marketing teams that work closely with headquarters or corporate, check out some tips on working more effectively with them.
If you are in the corporate headquarters, you can also check out my responses on how to better work with them.
On maximizing the effectiveness of personalization:
Pam: Whether you’re tackling global personalization or local personalization, there are three things you need to do to ensure effective results at a tactical level.
1. Have a plan! Craft a plan on what you want to personalize, from content planning to editorial planning.
- Is it a content series that requires a content calendar?
- Is it email marketing outreach?
- Is there a list of content you can discuss with the local teams?
2. Get buy-in from management and geographies.
- Have a budget for localization and translation
- Work with geographies or the local teams to determine who does what
- Mobilize the teams
- Request geographic or local teams to create a promotional plan for these content pieces
3. Project manage the content personalization initiative.
- Assign a project manager (can be an agency person) to project manage key milestones
- Work with key stakeholders to remove barriers
4. Set up a workflow to track success metrics.
If you personalize your content or outreach, you want to know how it performs.
This is where data analytics will come into play. Have your local teams present how content performs.
5. Have a regular communication process in place.
- Keep the collaboration going by initiating bi-weekly or monthly calls
On leveraging data:
Pam: When people think about data, they tend to get overwhelmed by the sheer enormity of what they need to tackle.
I always tell my clients to identify a specific question they want to address first, then go out and look for different data sets that will potentially find answers.
Here is one example of localization, not necessarily personalization. This is a global company with a presence in APAC, EMEA, and LAR Latin American regions.Although China is located in Asia, it is treated as a region of its own, so we’ve got APAC, China, and Japan that comprise this company’s presence in Asia.
Say our target customers were IT managers. If you have worked with IT managers around the world, you would know that IT managers in many countries can read English well.
We had a limited budget for localization, so we needed to determine what content to localize.
There was one white paper. My Chinese colleagues insisted on translating and localizing, but we didn’t have the budget.
We convinced them to send the English content through their monthly email.
We also asked them to write the email in English. It turns out that the opening and click-through rate was on par with other Chinese emails.
Our takeaway: we didn’t necessarily need to localize everything.
We later tested non-localized back-to-back emails against localized content back-to-back emails; in those instances, we saw a faster opening and click-through rate decline.
It showed that localization was still essential, but we may only need to translate or localize some content pieces all the time.
Pam: Whenever I think about scaling, I always think about McDonald’s and its massive scaling from one restaurant to 38,000 locations. Now that’s scaling.
Of course, they didn’t do it alone. They have thousands of franchisees across various countries to run the restaurants. So they scale through the franchise model.
Their local marketing is funded through local revenue, but the corporate also plays a part by providing branding guidance, content, and other creative elements to run local campaigns.
To scale successfully, there is a corporate element and a local element. Both need to work together.
Therefore, it’s important to think about what corporate will do and what locals will do.
Corporate has a finite budget and resources, so it’s hard to scale if you only count on corporate to do all the work.
To scale, local needs to put money on the table. A portion of local sales revenue, however small it is, needs to feed into local marketing efforts.
There is no way out.
The first takeaway on scaling is that local needs to step up with a budget to scale.
If the budget is centralized and the corporate needs to decide, it’s hard to scale.
In this case, it’s all about prioritization. They will prioritize which regions or countries will receive the budget and resources for localization.
If locals have a budget and resources, it’s possible to scale in more geographies faster.
On managing budget:
Pam: Each company’s budget structure is different.
In enterprises, the marketing or personalization/localization budget comes from different places.
The sources of budgets come from business units or product teams, corporate sales, local sales, corporate marketing, country marketing, and sometimes even IT.
No one source owns the total budget per se.
I always tell marketers you need to know where they can go to ask for an additional budget. It’s called tin-cupping.
As an agency, you should always understand the sources of the budget, not just get one PO.
If you know where the budget source is, say, from the sales team, then you know your client is doing something for the sales team.
If you know the sales team will use content, you can also offer recommendations to your clients on additional ways that sales can use that content.
In an enterprise, there is no one budget owner per se.
On the challenges of working with regions in global marketing:
Pam: The biggest challenge is that every region has different needs. The constant hurdle is finding that balance between the different needs of different geographies. It’s hard. Ugh.
The harsh reality is that you can’t make everyone happy. Take that in, internalize it, and embrace it.
No matter what your decision is, someone is bound to be disappointed.
My words of wisdom: Be very transparent about what you can do, as well as what you can’t.
If you make a hard decision about deprioritizing personalization or localization in specific segments or regions, then communicate the bad news directly to your stakeholders.
Explain why you made such a hard decision.
Don’t sugarcoat it.
My 2nd piece of advice: when you say you will get certain things done, make sure to keep your promise.
Your reputation and words mean something to them when you work with regions. They want to know if they can count on you.
On building a strategy and plan:
Pam: When you work with different regions, you need to have a plan.
Before you start creating your plan, I suggest talking to all the key stakeholders to understand their needs and challenges and, most importantly, making an effort to understand their regions or visit their regions.
Get to know them.
When you create a plan, your first two slides should be a table to show:
- Business goals
- Business objectives
- Marketing objectives
- Marketing strategies (Corporate and Geo)
- Buyer persona
- Priority countries
- Priority languages
On global companies setting the benchmark:
Pam: For Personalization or localization, B2C companies do better because all their marketing dollars need to impact sales immediately. It’s very transaction-driven.
One company that is doing well is IKEA. Look at IKEA’s site – it’s available in many different languages, and they localize the IKEA catalog to include many different languages, too.
Their email campaigns tend to be localized with product content provided by corporate.
And that’s where Kevin and I left the chat. Do you find my responses helpful or interesting?
If you have any questions about how to scale content across regions or about global content marketing, and how to maximize global and local personalization, feel free to reach out to me on LinkedIn, Twitter, or FB, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.