Deploying a global digital marketing initiative

globalwebWhen was the last time you checked your web analytics to determine how any of your visitors came from outside the U.S.? It has been my experience that up to 40% of website visitors can come from outside the U.S..  Why are they coming to your website and what can digital marketers do to better serve them?

While working in the healthcare marketing sector I noticed that our product website was getting a fair amount of traffic from Europe and Asia.  A deeper analysis indicated that they were going to product page information and downloading information on the use of the product.

The company I was working for at the time had many affiliates outside the US, but IT and emarketing resources were limited.  The challenge became “how do we better serve these potential customers?”.

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The first step I undertook was to talk to key people at the affiliates to understand their digital marketing needs and capabilities and to try and build a consensus around possible solutions.  After much discussion I came up with the idea of building a custom content management solution for each country.

The CMS was built with the help of both my IT department and my website vendor.   It had to be easy to deploy, but, more importantly, be easy to work with so each manager could update the website as needed without having a wealth of IT knowledge.

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The first step was the design and use of the CMS.  As we developed the system I kept all of our affiliates in the loop and asked for their feedback.  Once we had the CMS in place we allowed each affiliate to “test and validate” their CMS by building dummy sites on a closed company intranet site.

The next step was the development of templates.  In all there were 8 templates with everything from home pages to various content pages.  We also licensed several images that could be used throughout the website.

Finally, there was the content.  We developed all the content and had it translated into French, Italian, German, English, Arabic, Chinese and Japanese. We used a translation service but also had each affiliate check the content to ensure the translations were accurate.

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The finished product allowed each affiliate to build their own website within both local regulations and approvals.  Once they began to use the CMS they wanted more content and wanted to deploy the solution for an international company site as well.

The keys to success were both listening to each affiliates’ needs as well as integrating them through the whole development process. A further analysis of their web analytics indicated that their website traffic was increasing as it met user needs.

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Rather than take a bow I heaped a lot of praise on our IT department as well as our vendor.  It became a best-of-class process for thinking outside the box and integrating business units.

This was not an easy thing to do and required conference calls in the middle of the night to get things done and gain buy-in but in the end our users were served well and isn’t that what web marketing is all about?