How to engage with customers on a global basis

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British firms have been urged to look abroad in order to grow their business proposition, with emerging markets in countries such as Brazil and South Africa often cited as major opportunities.

However, engagement is just as important when it comes to an international audience, and ensuring that a marketing proposition is consistent and effective across different countries can prove challenging.

Technology can be useful here – for instance, CRM can make it easier to manage customers across national borders while sustaining a strong level of engagement – but it is still a difficult area for marketers.

Mhairi McEwan, chief executive and co-founder of Brand Learning, recently highlighted the problems facing multinational firms when it comes to consistent customer engagement.

Writing for Marketing Magazine, she cited a recent piece of research from Forbes showing that 82 per cent of senior marketers feel that interconnected consumers have broken down the barriers between global and local advertising.

"Relying on outdated command and control models slows decision-making and risks missing what is trending in a particular market where campaigns need to be reviewed in real time," declared Ms McEwan.

Local market insight has long been an important driver of business activity, particularly with the emergence of big data analysis as a viable approach, but globalisation poses a whole new set of difficulties.

Recent Millward Brown analysis found that among campaigns which tested very highly in one country, only one in ten performed to the same standard when rolled out in another country.

Ms McEwan cited the importance of well-oiled processes in allowing companies to take an effective global approach to their marketing and engagement.

"The skill is in the balance: crafting a global structure (providing resources such as data and CRM, for example) that facilitates sufficient local flexibility and prioritisation," she added.

Global teams also need to ensure they have talented, experienced workers on the ground in their various offices, she concluded.

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