view of the lake
The right balance of global consistency and local relevance is essential for the customer experience PHOTO: Jason Blackeye

Digital technologies have transformed expectations for a consistent customer experience across markets. Consumers now expect to view and receive constant streams of information in real-time, across multiple different platforms and in their preferred languages. 

The net result is that developing a globalization strategy has evolved from a nice-to-have to a necessity. Yet brands’ expectations for global consistency have been at odds with their ability to execute. 

Global Consistency and Local Relevance 

While Forrester Research recently found (paywall) that 64 percent of CMOs are now responsible for delivering their organization’s customer experience, a recent study from Econsultancy reported that only 22 percent of marketers report that they routinely hit their projections and timelines for campaigns in multiple languages. 

To be successful in 2017 and beyond, marketers must find a way to bridge this gap.

For CMOs, delivering the right balance of global consistency and local relevance is essential for the customer experience — and will continue to be a major focus in the coming year. But delivering on this goal is easier said than done. For many, there are significant roadblocks when it comes to creating successful global marketing strategies that meet the increasing need for personalization and customization. 

Focus on 4 Critical Strategies

As global marketing continues to grow in complexity, shifting away from simple messaging towards personalized content, relationships and experiences, CMOs must focus on four critical trends to ensure a strong global marketing strategy: 

1. Utilize a Hub and Spoke Model to Maintain Balance

Global marketing leaders place an emphasis on central governance in concert with local execution and decision-making. This means that content is created locally and optimized for every channel based on regional preferences, yet the content is deployed across a centralized tech stack. 

Using a hub and spoke model helps to control processes without stifling locally relevant content. As a result, brands can be more consistent across markets, while also taking cultural nuances and preferences into account to increase in-market success.

2. Optimize Your MarTech Infrastructure for Scale

The hub and spoke model is dependent on the right technology and process structure to maintain global standards in brand management, media asset use and measurement. Yet a recent survey of global marketing leaders conducted by my company found that only 4 percent of US brands described their systems and processes as “fully consistent” across the stakeholders involved. 

Although the difference is not as dramatic, the same goes for the UK, France and Germany, where 62 percent of the leading companies are fully consistent across the stakeholders involved, compared to less than 30 percent of the non-leading ones.

3. Outsource Non-Marketing Tasks

All marketing organizations use outside vendors to support their international marketing efforts but the way leading global marketers deploy them is markedly different. The same recent study shows that the non-leading companies in the US rely on creative agencies, whereas the non-leading companies in the UK, France and Germany depend on language service providers for support across functions. 

In both the US and Europe however, non-leading companies are less likely to use translation and localization services than the leaders across both geographies — 36 percent versus 58 percent in the US, and 36 percent versus 49 percent in the UK, France and Germany. 

In short, leading companies use specialists, but maintain internal expertise in producing and distributing content. Leaders put themselves in a position to lead and manage the process, taking advantage of specialists without relying too heavily on them for strategy and creative execution.

4. Look for Opportunities in Emerging Trends

As new trends continue to emerge — from the increasing demand for social audiences to consumer personalization and the rising shift in mobile — it will be crucial for organizations to take advantage of these changes in the marketplace. 

This is especially important, since these shifts in consumer behavior are often viewed as particularly challenging. Furthermore, tools that suck up time and lack capability will negatively impact a brand’s marketing performance and hinder its flexibility in responding to future trends. By investing in the right technologies and processes, organizations can respond to global trends in relevant and timely ways that ultimately provide quality customer experiences. 

Customizing Content Across Markets

In order for brands and their CMOs to enhance global customer experiences, they must focus on marketing customization and personalization across all markets. By increasing the amount of content available in multiple languages and understanding what will resonate with specific audiences across local markets, brands can drive successful global marketing strategies — both now and in the future.