Developing countries have become the drivers of global growth, and everyone’s paying attention.
It doesn’t take long for expanding businesses – and their investors – to start setting their sights overseas – Especially once the home front is under control.
The reality is that 70% of the world’s growth is going to come from emerging markets over the next few years. And since most prudent businesses will prefer to avoid the big panda in the room until the dust settles, eyes are turning to places like India, Indonesia, Pakistan and Brazil to fill in the gap.
The thing is that digital marketing always comes at the heels of investment and if you think you can cruise by with the same approach you’ve used in the US and get the same results? Well, I’m not a fortune cookie, but I see a huge surprise in your future.
Western digital marketing strategies won’t fly in emerging countries as-is. Trust us, OTT’s already all over the globe. Been there, done that.
So, let’s talk about the challenges and adjustments that digital marketers looking to break out on those economies will need to face, adapt, and move forward.
Most emerging markets can be divided into two broad segments, those who have and those who don’t. The more operations you start overseas, the more evident it becomes that the broad class spectrum you’ve probably grown accustomed to in developed economies doesn’t exist over there. Even in urban areas.
Your strategies have to be adjusted accordingly to this new frame of reference, and how precise you get with your demographic identifiers will make a huge difference.
Once you identify these elements, your next step should be to translate them into platform-specific audience selection configurations you can actually implement through the usual channels (Facebook, Google Ads, etc.) And that will be a challenge in and of itself.
Learn to Navigate the Different Environments
Reliable data in developing countries is scarce at best. So digital marketers going there from the “embarrassment of riches” we enjoy in developed countries are in for a rough awakening if caught off guard.
Even indicators such as partisan divides, often so evident in the west, aren’t as clearly defined in countries like Pakistan. This tasks marketers to develop alternative and novel channels for their customer acquisition efforts.
Unless you have the support of a blue-chip brand behind you – Like Pepsi – you’ll need to polish your market segmentation game, or risk damaging the brand you are working on without even realizing it. And that´s something that won’t be easily fixed.
Marketing approaches that would appeal to both sides of the fence in emerging economies are rare and expensive, so you’ll need to work smarter and bring your A-game in this regard to separate what you can use, from what you should avoid.
Use Perception in Your Favor
Appreciating value shifts and understanding the local perception is another major concern with digital marketing in emerging markets. You can really go deep with this subject, but a clear example might be a better way to illustrate.
Import-oriented consumer cultures often see domestic brands as providing inferior quality products and services. A marketer ignorant of that widespread perception can severely undermine their effort just by pursuing the wrong angle.
These sensitivities are sometimes justified, and sometimes the product of cultural legacy. The important thing to remember is that they will impact your marketing approach either way and the faster you learn and leverage and navigate them, the better your strategies will perform.
Location Is Important, But It Won’t Tell You the Whole Picture
Blindly trusting location-based audience segmentation is never a good idea when it comes to emerging economies.
While you might feel you should be focusing your efforts in high-end areas like downtown Mumbai instead of less posh neighbourhoods, location alone hardly ever paints the whole picture over there. You’ll always need to complement these data sets with other actionable descriptors.
This point alone will have a dramatic impact on how you play the Local SEO game in developing countries. You’ll soon learn that location-based data is fairly limited – even from Facebook and Google – and you’ll need to find ways to compensate.
The trend in such countries is to keep things like ‘location services’ off unless strictly necessary (for example, with transportation apps.) So, you often have to puzzle together actionable intel from different sources to make something you can work with.
Be Thorough in your Digital Marketing Strategies
When you are talking about digital marketing for emerging markets, there’s “getting to know your audience,” and then there’s getting to KNOW your audience. The former is just generic marketing advances. The latter, though, speaks to how you should be approaching the task at hand.
Remember the “embarrassment of riches” we mentioned before? It can be surprisingly shocking to digital marketers from the west to learn to work with what they’ll have access to under different circumstances.
It can be easy to go there thinking you can just define your usual variables, research, and adjust for local taste, and you’ll be all set. Especially since we’ve grown accustomed to being able to learn so much about our audiences here.
Being thorough about your audience subsets, getting – and using – every trickle of intel on your audience that you manage to get your hands on, can and will make a significant difference.
Reaching and engaging your target customers the way you want it will most likely be a difficult task to accomplish at first. Even with local help! It’s a consequence of different or sometimes divergent perspectives and ways of doing things meeting and learning from each other.
Don’t slack off, don’t settle, and go the extra mile. It’s the best way you’ll have to actually break through.
It’s Not All Bad
Even though our focus today has been rather dour, know that not everything is cloudy skies and mining for coal.
If you get started with the right mentality, you’ll soon realize that just like they have unique challenges, emergent countries also present unique market opportunities you can capitalize on. Customer loyalty and retention are two that spring to mind.
Just be aware that the game changes dramatically over there, and that it’s easy to let the ball drop by relying on the patterns and strategies that worked for you here for so long.
Remember, the rule book changes, and the strategies require adapting, but the digital marketing game remains the same.