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Multi-language B2B market development: beyond words

Multi-language B2B market development: beyond words

The European Union (EU) is the world’s largest economy, towering over the US, China and India respectively by quite a long way, and its growing commercial integration makes it a great and highly accessible marketplace.

But by US standards, the EU is the new kid on the Federal block, emerging in the 1950s and over 160 years later than our American cousins. So there’s a long way to go to reach US levels of integration in commerce and governance, and even further to go in unifying business culture.

24 languages, one B2B market

And while the most widely spoken language in the EU is English, which is understood by 51% of adults, there are 24 official EU languages, but in practice only two – English and French – are in wide general use.

But unlike our closest rival in the super-economy league table – the US – where there are just two languages, with the most widely used being American English and Spanish the second most common language, spoken by approximately 35 million people, the EU presents some unique complexities.

Not just lost in translation

At first sight, it may seem that translating your website into some or all 24 languages may ensure deeper federal market penetration, but the reality is that language itself is just one barrier to these markets.

The other issue – and an equally significant one – is business culture. In short, what will engage and persuade in one regional business culture will not necessarily deliver the same market penetration and performance in another.

In-depth research is key

What this means is in order to communicate effectively with EU B2B target markets, a clear understanding of the business culture is key. And that covers everything from how products are sourced, selected and purchased, to how they are utilised locally.

When this is understood, then developing a close understanding of effective in-region marketing strategies, and how these may be applied needs careful consideration and implementation. Here, in-depth market research will save a lot of time and money.

Streamlined regional prioritisation

This in-depth market research will give you a clear insight into your target EU markets, and there will be considerable differences in both strategic approach and communications campaign format, which could, in theory mean 24 versions of the same communication.

The simple fact is that this would become prohibitively time consuming and expensive very quickly, so from this research needs to come some detailed strategic market analysis, including phased prioritisation of the most lucrative regions.

Re-interpretation rather than translation

With this phased regional prioritisation in place and using your regional market research, you can now start to assess communications for the selected regions, and while the initial communications should be developed in English, this will need to be re-interpreted rather than translated for in-region use.

Content development in English – the most common EU language – is important as it allows each translator to work from a common text in a language he or she will most likely be fully fluent with. And content re-interpretation rather than translation also offers other communications opportunities.

It’s not what you say, it’s the way you say it

Content re-interpretation allows local, in-region translators to interpret marketing communications in way that resonates with the local market, channelling and guiding prospects and customers, and fully optimising engagement in all local markets.

This re-interpretation means that using the central core messages and brand values developed in the English language version content can be precisely targeted to maximise market impact and penetration in specific regions.

Multi-language SEO

Local language search engine optimisation (SEO) will be critical to optimising regional website visibility and therefore should be implemented as a part of the local content re-interpretation programme.

This process will call heavily on the re-interpreted content which, if developed properly, will contain all relevant phrasing in the on-page content, and this can be very simply applied to metadata.

Lucrative and diverse markets

When entering lucrative but highly diverse markets like the EU, guidance from a digital marketing agency with not only local but pan-European experience is essential.

Formulating a strategic EU market development plan and partnering with an experienced agency in prospective high value markets such as Europe offers great potential for solid long-term business growth.

At first sight, it may seem that translating your website into some or all 24 languages may ensure deeper federal market penetration, but the reality is that language itself is just one barrier to these markets.

written by Will Yates,
Client Services Director at Novacom

B2B online marketing: why you need it, even if you think you don’t

B2B online marketing: why you need it, even if you think you don’t

There are many b2b companies that have significant market share in very specific markets due the niche nature of products, or the very significant size of the unit purchase costs in that marketplace.

Many of these companies feel that the niche they work in or the huge purchase cost of their products and services ensures they are, and will remain, market leaders and commercially indomitable in the years ahead.

Maintaining market share

So why do these companies need b2b marketing? They’ve got the profile – every time they do a deal its headline news, right? Everybody who matters has heard of them and knows what they offer, correct? Well, no, it’s not as simple as that.

Because markets continually move, and while some of these global enterprises believe there is no competitive threat, that is an unwise assumption in the transnational markets of today.

Invisible competitive threat

The issue is, all markets – and there are no exceptions – have many, often unseen competitive forces that may not – at least initially – appear as direct contenders or even challengers, but the point about competitive erosion is that it is evolutionary.

That is to say in these markets, single-entity competition becomes commercially harmful when these single, indirectly-contending forces rapidly coalesce as collective business realisation perceives a gap in your competitive position and joins forces to exploit it.

Visibility is protective

Many global niche players believe safety comes through invisibility. As can be seen in the scenario I describe, this is definitely not the case as this alliance between your indirect competition – some of whom may even be your suppliers – will be rapid and decisive.

This means that unless you have previously spent time and significant resources building your brand, market profile and customer engagement, this competitive challenge will leave your marketplace looking like the beach after a storm: unrecognisable.

And you will be nowhere to be seen, at least not by your customer base.

Market presence, not market hype

But this is only one scenario: the other is simply competitor forces growing over time, evolving, joining forces, and the slow irradiation of your market position and competitive share that will result.

So, how do you avoid your enterprise being overwhelmed by these competitive forces? The simple answer is visibility. Many marketers believe that digital marketing such as website development or email communications are about customer acquisition. But not for those with vision.

Become an industry beacon

While your competitive environment is a constant, building an online presence that clearly marks you out as an innovator, thought leader and as a trusted business partner is a central part of your claim as market leader.

Build on this by developing your website to act not as a mere placeholder but to engage and partner with your – albeit small – global client community and reach out to them with email updates, and you will have cemented your long-term position.

That is because, rather than taking what may appear to be a commercially motivated route to client engagement, this is a truly open, transparent and sincere approach to client partnership and mutual business success.

Working with an experienced digital communications agency to develop this online client relationship is unlikely to rapidly build new client relationships.

But it will cement valuable existing relationships and keep them secure; and through greater exposure and reputation – place your enterprise front-of-mind with those who next enter your marketplace as potential clients, over time.

While your competitive environment is a constant, building an online presence that clearly marks you out as an innovator, thought leader and as a trusted business partner is a central part of your claim as market leader.

written by Will Yates,
Client Services Director at Novacom

Customer relationship management: what are the benefits?

Customer relationship management: what are the benefits?

Customer relationship management (CRM) systems are highly effective in both day-to-day customer management and relationship building with existing customers, as well as the acquisition of new prospects and customers.

Many CRM systems are web-based and are reliant on technology, but CRM should not be seen as a purely IT solution, because truly successful CRM is built on a solid sales and marketing strategy.

It is more about your company customer relationship philosophy rather than your enterprises’ technical systems.

Building face to face contact

CRM systems save time, money and headcount by allowing both Inside and Direct Sales teams to automate day-to-day relationship building through low-level marketing communication activity such as automated email sales contact.

This low-level CRM automation means these teams have more time to engage in higher level relationship building and customer acquisition through face to face contact or personal phone calls. But CRM automation also delivers even greater benefits.

Improving customer insights

When properly configured, CRM systems can track customer behaviour, helping build valuable buyer personas in your data systems, and helping you know your customer better, and allowing you to offer ever-more insightful responses to their needs. With CRM you can:

Track customer purchase patterns and preferences

Profile individuals and groups to target more effectively

Improve customer service and meet changing needs

CRM ROI: does it all add up?

Buying or subscribing to a CRM system, and setting it up can be costly and time-consuming. It is therefore essential that when set-up and implementation costs are identified, that either new or improved revenue streams are calculated as part of the business case.

It is also important to engage specialist help to install and set up the system and train sales teams in order to optimise system performance. This can be done with help from an experienced digital marketing agency. A well optimised system will:

Increase sales volumes through predictive analysis of historic sales trends

Deliver a clear understanding of specific customer requirements

Enable cross-selling and up-selling through historic sales analysis

Allow accurate measurement of individual customer profitability

Better customer services

This closer, more accurate understanding of customer behaviour and their needs means you can now target existing and potential customers with buyer persona-specific personalisation and personalised offers.

This will not only help increase sales volumes and profitability, but will improve customer retention and in so doing, improve sales function efficiency by lowering costs per customer.

CRM and increased market share

While achieving a greater understanding of customer behaviour and customer needs through data driven personalisation and sales, the development of this large body of buyer personae and buyer behaviour data, also gives you the key to further market development.

Finally, the data you use to better serve your customers can also be used to develop more targeted marketing communications, helping you target new customers with offers you know they want, because your CRM data is now able to tell you just that.

CRM systems save time, money and headcount by allowing both Inside and Direct Sales teams to automate day-to-day relationship building through low-level marketing communication activity such as automated email sales contact.

written by Will Yates,
Client Services Director at Novacom

Data protection: do you know what you don’t know could cost you?

Data protection: do you know what you don’t know could cost you?

The Data Protection Directive (DPD) is an inherent part of EU law that can have a dramatic impact on your enterprise if mishandled. And if you think you are exempt from this act because you don’t handle digital data, you’re wrong.

Know what you’re handling

This Directive and its upcoming successor, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) cover a wide range of data sources, including specific hard-copy diaries and sales personal organizer records.

Why? Because any data that contains information such as names, financial or health information and even photographs is personal information.

In fact, the European Commission states: ‘personal data is any information relating to an individual, whether it relates to his or her private, professional or public life. It can be anything from a name, a photo, an email address, bank details, posts on social networking websites, medical information, or a computer’s IP address.’

Be cautious: it’s a big subject

And then, if you include the required EU directives on more sensitive personal data, such as personal religious beliefs, political opinions, health, sexual orientation, race, membership of organisations, further enhanced restrictions can apply.

So data actually exists in multiple dimensions and needs both storing and processing with varying privacy parameters. These parameters will govern who can view the data and how (if at all) it can be used.

To further increase the level of complexity, while the current DPD and upcoming GDPR are both very wide ranging regulatory instruments and with the roll-out of GDPR designed to offer a single EU-wide regulation, this will likely cast the regulatory net ever wider – and deeper.

The international dimension

While the EU is a big place, most transnational digital marketing agencies such as Novacom have both regional and global clients on our roster. This means we may regularly seek to import data into the EU and export for use data in other, non-EU regions.

And given that we are subject to the local EU regulations discussed, these situations need to be considered very carefully. Because, quite apart from our own local data protection laws, we must factor in the laws of both our import and export regions.

Trace data origins, check your destinations

Here are two examples where experience and awareness of international digital regulations saved clients serious legal challenge. The first example is a technology client with a number of offices in the EU, which expanded into the US market.

With a continuous growth strategy, the company grew in the US until a contractual issue caused the cessation of a key strategic US market development relationship.

With a significant stake holding in this US relationship, the EU enterprise exercised its right to export and consolidate its US website data capture for EU use in subsequently targeting US prospects and customers.

But given that the US-EU relationship had ceased and the US-controlled website was taken off-line significant information such as the website’s privacy policy – the terms under which users and therefore email recipients had signed up – were gone.

This meant we had no legal premise under which we could robustly prove a legitimate right to use the US generated data, and without which it would be illegal to do so, rendering the data unusable in the EU under local law.

Stay safe, live longer

While this seems quite spectacular to discard such useful marketing collateral, the legal impact of misuse would be of equal significance: fines in excess of €600.000 are now not uncommon for data protection violations.

The second example illustrates how simple client requests can create potential legal risk if not properly understood and checked by competent digital marketing partners.

We were asked by the EU marketers in one of our global clients to send a dataset to their US counterparts for use in US markets. We could do that at the press of a button.

But on close examination, we discovered that this global corporates’ US holding company did not have appropriate EU data protection credentials, and exporting this data would therefore have been a criminal offence. The financial penalty for this would have been substantial.

Know who you’re working with

So in your enterprise, is it possible that these data protection irregularities could have taken place historically, or may be taking place now, as you read this?

Unfortunately, the data protection breaches mentioned here are but a tiny few of the possible risks marketers take with database assets on a daily basis, if you or your digital marketing agency don’t understand international data protection law.

We also undertake regular refresher training to ensure our knowledge is up-to-date. While this is still rare among digital marketing agencies, the logic is unassailable, particularly when faced with the ever-increasing risk of catastrophic penalties any mismanagement could cause clients.

Generally still under-reported, the risk is very present. As this blog was completed, Police Scotland (UK) admitted losing 20,000 2014 year stop and search records due to a ‘computer programming mistake’.

If such errors can occur in a UK police authority, it can happen to you.

In reality, your digital agency should have your back. Here at Novacom, we consider ISO management processes and associated certification an important part of mitigating these significant client-facing risks.

Personalisation: engaging with your customers and creating long-term loyalty

Personalisation: engaging with your customers and creating long-term loyalty

When many marketers think of personalisation their eyes become misty with nostalgia, as they recall the heady days of personalised digital print – and being able to print the recipient’s name in the salutation line on direct mail shots.

But in the intervening years, not only has the digital space emerged, but big data can also now be structured to interact with your website visitors in a way that provides a truly personal, tailored relationship.

Technology-driven user engagement

Personalisation requires the development of a clear profile of each customer who visits your website and this profile then interacts with data layering technology and low latency interactive systems to create a seamless, personalised user experience.

But what are these things, and what do they do?

Well, it’s a fair question with a simple answer: these technologies are designed to deliver a personalised user experience that helps users feel engaged, guided and above all, valued as they browse your website.

For example, data layering simply means data is stored in a series of layers. Each specific layer of this data will interact with the user in a way that is appropriate to the user’s actions, such as offering guidance, or alternative or comparable products as the user moves around the page.

How does it feel?

This behind-the-scenes layered data is backed by low latency technology, which is simply there to give customers a perception of real time responses, where interactivity is instant, helpful and personal.

So what does this feel like for the user?

Well, if you visit a target site through natural search terms, and start comparing prices there, then you will most likely receive an offer of something like free gift wrap or similar to mitigate your perceived price consciousness.

Or imagine the site you are browsing detects that you don’t understand how to navigate it effectively or place an order, so points you to a site map to help find what you want, or FAQs for the checkout and sale procedure.

And this technology can also detect users who are hesitant, due to online buying inexperience or advanced age, and can offer alternative sales channels, such as offering a hard copy direct mail catalogue or bricks and mortar (B&M) outlet locations.

The way personalisation interacts with your online customers is as flexible as you need it to be. It’s practically limitless.

Look in the direction of travel

This highly interactive personalisation is great for customer engagement and long-term loyalty. It can increase sales significantly and optimise revenue streams across your desktop, mobile and tablet channels.

But without a clear and cohesive marketing strategy, personalisation is pointless.

To achieve optimum performance from a personalisation programme, you must plan your communications strategy carefully.

That is to say, you need to know what you want to say before you start, because once you start, there’s no turning back. You are committed.

A strategy for success

Building a personalisation strategy will mean understanding exactly what your customers – whether B2C or B2B – want. There are a number of ways to do this but robust, accurate insights into customer needs and behaviours are critical to prevent sub-optimal engagement outcomes.

In most cases, incentivised website user surveys are the best option, and these can be supplemented by commercially available research reports. These two routes, combined with your own website user analysis almost invariably offers a very clear insight.

And if you use these insights to develop a cohesive personalisation strategy, and tie this in with a fully integrated marketing automation programme, your customer engagement performance will deliver revenue uplift with robust, long-term loyalty.

To achieve optimum performance from a personalisation programme, you must plan your communications strategy carefully.