An 11 step process to review your international marketing effectiveness
Following on from my first post on Understanding your Global Customers, in this post we look at how to conduct a Global Digital Marketing Audit within your business before creating a Global Digital Marketing Strategy. This includes the following areas:
- Review global website and digital inventory
- Regional Campaign activity
- Mobile activity
- Regional Social Media Activity
- Regional Digital Marketing Plans
- Regional Search Engine Marketing
- Measurement tools
- Regional content
- Global digital agencies and suppliers
- Regional team structure and skills audit
- Communication and information sharing
1. Review global website and digital inventory
How many websites does your business ‘own’, and who looks after them on a day-to-day?
Pull together a list of all active domains and main contacts. This sounds obvious, but if you have marketing teams or even individuals based in several different regions, you can often find the odd microsite/campaign site here and there which you knew nothing about! Step 4 on social media marketing is closely related to this
Unless you are lucky enough to have one central point for purchasing and managing domain names, you should also create a ‘master list’ list of all the domains you own too.
What will you do with this list? :
- Note how active they are – e.g. if it’s a campaign microsite – is the campaign still running? Should it still be live? Is it maintained?
- Find out how consistent across regions your domain names and use of urls is.
- How consistent is the branding? Do they follow global guidelines (if you have any!)
- Find out more about each active site - what is the site structure/map? Is there an up-to-date one available for your use?
2. Campaign Activity overview – past, present & future
Next, list all digital activity from each country, both past campaigns and any plans for future ones. If you handle digital centrally within your organisation, this should be easy, but if you need to work with regional teams it can be quite time-consuming to track down all the information that you need. Why not enlist some dedicated individuals who are based locally (if available!) to help with the task?
As well as an overview of all campaign activity, try to find out:
- Measurements and goals used to determine success (a copy of the initial brief for each campaign would be great)
- Budget – how much was spent on each campaign and how was it broken down
- Agencies used (if any) - including main contacts should you need them in the future
- Post-campaign reviews – hopefully the local teams would have reviewed each campaign and will be able to give you information on how well they worked and how they could have been improved.
Look for any duplication – the same or similar campaigns carried out in separate regions which could have been created at the same time in order to save money and improve brand consistency? You’ll be surprised how often this happens in multi-national companies!
Once you have collected all the data:
- Note which campaigns could have worked internationally, i.e. are not specific to a region or local consumer characteristics or unique needs
- Note which campaigns have been the most successful and why
- If you can – work out the ROI on any campaigns, linking back to sales or leads (or however your organisation measures marketing success), and prioritize the list to make it easier for yourself to pick out the most successful ones overall
3. Mobile Activity
Find out the following:
- Have any apps been created by any of the regions?
- How do they work? What was the brief?
- Who developed them? Who ‘owns’ them within your business?
- How successful have they been? ROI?
4. Social Media Activity
Find out the following:
- Are there any regional Facebook pages/groups? If so, who maintains them? How are they used? What is their purpose? How are they measured? How successful are they? Any future plans? Who developed/designed them?
- How many (if any) Twitter accounts are there? How are they managed and by whom? How successful are they? Are they being tracked? Any goals?
- Is there a content/topic schedule? If so, what is it and is it being adhered to?
- Any other social media accounts/activity? How are they being used? How successful are they?
- Any tie-in with campaigns and other offline activity?
- Any regional social media monitoring happening?
5. Online Marketing plans
If any of your regions have created a digital marketing plan for their territories, try to spend some time with them to find out more. What are they planning? What have they committed to already? What was the strategic thinking (if any) behind the plan? Budget?
(Ideally, you should get the ‘powers-that-be’ in your organisation to put a hold on all future activity until you have completed your review and created your global strategy.)
Things to consider:
- As with your review of past campaigns, look out for any duplication across regions in their future plans. Where could cost-savings be made by working more collaboratively?
- What % of overall marketing budget is spent on digital in each region?
- How seriously do they take digital? Where does it fit in to the overall marketing strategy which they follow and have developed for their region? At what part of the campaign process is digital considered?
It could be worth prioritising the regions based on their commitment and understanding of digital marketing - if not as part of your overall review process for the business, but for yourself. You can then align yourself with the most cooperative and ‘savvy’ regional teams or individuals first when rolling out your global strategy once developed.
6. SEM review
Find out if any Search Engine Marketing or Optimisation is happening in each region, and if so:
- Which keywords and phrases have been identified and how? Have they researched the target market or are they assuming they know the keywords that matter (I hate it when that happens!)
- Which languages are used? You would think this was obvious, but it isn’t always!
- Who is managing the process? In-house or external agency?
- How successful has it been to date? What are the measurements of success?
Unless you can speak all the languages you are dealing with like a local, I would advise using an international search company for this process – preferably one with people in-house from each of the regions you are dealing with (or at least, most of them!). There are not many of these around – I only know of a couple in the UK – but it is well worth trying to find one if you can.
They will be able to translate all the keywords and phrases and make sense of them for you, so that they can ascertain if the same ones are being used in each region, and if not, where the regional differences are. As always with global marketing, it is NOT just about the language – cultural differences are just as important.
A good agency will also be able to give you technical advice on how the structure, build and location of your websites are helping your search rankings.
Why do all this?
- You need to know how effective any activity has been to date
- You need to understand what the opportunities are
- You need to recognise any areas which could create a situation where you are bidding against yourself for keywords and phrases
- You need to feed this information into the content strategy that you develop and eventually localise
7. Measurement tools
Which, if any, measurement tools are being used across each region to track the success of digital marketing?
There are tools available which can help you to manage this globally, in order to give you one central point of measurement and comparison. Understanding what has been used so far will help when you are making the decision as to which ones to include in your strategy moving forward, and how it will be managed.
It’s also worthwhile finding out who accesses this information in each team, and how they use it (if at all) to develop and improve their regional digital activity. Is there any regular reporting? Do they fully understand how to use the data?
8. Content Review
This is a tricky thing to do across several languages, but can be very worthwhile when trying to develop a better way of working globally.
Start by asking the regional marketing teams or contacts to draw up a spreadsheet which details the type of content which they are currently using digitally. Some examples of these may be:
- Product or service overviews
- Company background and ‘key people’ information
- Company Activity (e.g. any social or environmental activity)
- White papers
- Case studies and testimonials
- News and press releases
Have them indicate if each one is text, video, image, pdf, flash, app etc., or if it is available in more than 1 of these. Also, make sure the language is supplied. Some regions, such as Scandinavia and MEA can often share a marketing team, and as such will have already localised/translated the content in to more than one language.
Other things to look out for:
- Has the content been created with SEM/SEO in mind? Does it include relevant keywords and phrases, or has it been taken from other sources (often offline) and simply put online?
- Is there any archived content which is not being used at the moment but could be useful for other regions or in the future?
- Have they developed a content plan/strategy? If so, what is it?
- Do they create their own content? Are there in-house copywriters? If not, which external agencies/resources do they use?
- Do they syndicate content elsewhere? If so, where?
- Where/how is video content hosted?
- Is there an image bank? How is purchased and/or in-house original imagery stored and catalogued?
- Do they follow any tone-of-voice guidelines? If yes, are these in line with the global branding guidelines and how is this policed (if at all!)?
Once you have collated all of this information, you should be able to determine:
- Which content is used/similar across more than 1 region
- Which content is unique to each region
- Which content (such as case studies and testimonials) could be translated/localised and used in more than one region
9. Agency review
During this whole process you should be gathering information about the various digital agencies and external resources (if any) which are being used by the regions. Make sure to document them separately so that you can refer to the list when the time comes to think about how you are going to implement your strategy further down the line.
I recommend that you simply list the following information:
- Address (country)
- Contact details (including main contact)
- Agency size (number of people)
- Skills/Areas of expertise
- Examples of work
You could also add if they have any global clients or expertise, as well as a rough grading on how expensive they are (just for your own records).
10. Team structure and skills
Map out the people within your organisation who are responsible for the digital strategy and the implementation in each region. Who are the decision makers? Who holds the budget? Who are more hands on – for example, responsible for the content management of the websites?
A visual representation – using whichever software you are most comfortable with – will help you make sense of the overall structure.
Once you have this in place, undertake a skills audit. You can either speak with each person individually or send out a questionnaire asking about their knowledge in various areas, including:
- Search Engine Optimisation
- Pay Per Click Search
- Online Partnerships/Affiliates
- Online advertising/sponsorships
- Social Media
- Email Marketing
- Online PR
- Offline Campaigns/ Integrated Campaigns
- Digital Proposition Development
- Content Creation
- Content Management Systems
- Usability & accessibility
- Digital Design, Development and project management
- Touch Strategy (customer intelligence)
- Online Market monitoring and analysis
- Technical knowledge
In larger organisations it could be worth doing a skills audit with the full marketing team in each region, as opposed to just the people who work on digital. You should also find out which skills are outsourced.
What will this information give you?:
- Knowledge of global skill shortages in relevant areas within your organisation
- A list of key people within the organisation who have the skills to work with you on the implementation of your global strategy
- A comprehensive view of which skills/functions are outsourced
- An idea of training needs and resource requirements in the future
11. Internal communication & information sharing
Finally, it’s good to get an idea of how adept the various regional teams are at collaboration and communication between themselves. Are there regular global meetings or online/telephone conferences? If so, how often do these happen? What is the format? Do they discuss digital? How involved are they in the development of each other’s digital plans?
This information will help you decide how best to proceed with the implementation of your strategy, which may also need some ‘rules’ included in order to improve collaboration and communication in the future.
So far we have looked at Understanding your global customers, and conducting a global digital review. The next piece in this series will focus on: Developing your online brand guidelines - how global are they?
In the meantime, I'd love to know your thoughts on how you approach a review of international marketing capabilities. Are there other areas you'd consider or emphasise differently?