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How can global companies provide locally relevant experiences?

19 Nov 2019

Posted by Helen Whittaker

Today many medium-large enterprises operate across dozens of territories at the same time. From a marketing perspective, this presents a natural tension: the desire for brand consistency and economies of scale have to be balanced against the need for tailored, nuanced messaging and tactics specific to that market.

So how can global companies provide locally relevant experiences online? At Great State’s latest breakfast briefing we examined the main challenges multinationals face across three broad fronts and how we tackled them for one of our clients, Spirax Sarco, during development of their new website. Here, we provide a summary of the top three takeaways from that presentation.

1. Understand local variances in audience needs

Many marketing teams will understand their audience segments and have already developed a set of personas they use to inform their marketing efforts. But often the international variances that exist across those personas get overlooked. By conducting in-depth primary research across multiple audience segments and territories it was possible to build an evolving map of user needs throughout the Spirax Sarco customer journey. Once you have such an experience map, it’s possible to highlight the areas that will have the most impact in terms of establishing local relevance and credibility. Armed with that knowledge, both the central and local marketing teams can determine how best to make use of limited resources whether that be for translations, content production, design or functionality.

2. Design a flexible yet consistent solution for varying business priorities

Spirax Sarco operate across 60 different countries. No two markets are the same. Like many companies, their strategic focus on particular products, services, audience groups and industries varies significantly across that broad landscape. They needed a website solution flexible enough to cater for local markets’ priorities, yet consistent enough to ensure a positive user experience.

Moreover, we needed to deliver a technical solution that could integrate with a host of other software (such as CRM and ERP systems) but exist as a single coherent codebase, ready for cost-effective maintenance and upgrades in future. All too often, the accretion of development leaves organisations with a Frankenstein monster that becomes increasingly costly to keep running.

Enterprise-class content management systems like Sitecore or Adobe Experience Manager sites provide powerful, flexible, extensible platforms. But various considerations and customisations need to be made throughout development to unlock that power: from provisioning a suitable hosting environment, establishing a global taxonomy, defining the information architecture through to the design and build of customisable page templates and components.

Be wary of getting lost in the detail of this work before really understanding the organisation’s strategic needs - the technical solution must be designed to suit your business, not the other way around.

3. Engage and enable local teams early and regularly

Typically, the development of a new website is centrally managed by the group marketing team. However, the key to a successful website project and its ongoing management will largely depend upon the local markets; that is, a variety of globally dispersed employees from different teams (or operating companies even) with varying levels of interest, understanding and desires.

The importance of, and effort required for, effective stakeholder management cannot be overstated. Whether it’s technical people, senior marketers, junior marketers, subject matter experts, financiers, project sponsors and more; identifying key players as early as possible and formalising a plan of how to include them both prior to, during and after development is critical in determining the relative success or failure of your website development project.

So there you have it - three basic takeaways to consider when developing a new website that can provide locally relevant experiences to your globally dispersed customers: Understand local variances in audience needs through primary research; design a flexible yet consistent solution suitable to your business strategy; and engage and enable local teams through effective stakeholder management and training.


Helen Whittaker
Posted by Helen Whittaker

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