After investing in global B2B lead generation tactics like paid search and paid social, international B2B marketers often find they’re not getting the lead volume, quality, and ROI they need – especially compared to domestic results.
Conversion-focused tactics like paid search or paid social may work well for B2C brands launching relatively affordable offerings in a new international market. But B2B marketers face unique challenges in other countries. And those challenges need to be addressed if they want to gain traction internationally.
OBSTACLES FOR GLOBAL B2B MARKETING
Paid search and paid social are great for testing the waters in a new locale to see if there’s appetite for your offering. In the face of pressure to meet sales goals, tactics like this can be particularly tempting. In theory, they can draw a clear line from specific efforts to revenue and ROI. But over time, these tactics don’t actually deliver the results global B2B marketers need.
That’s because B2B sales typically require a larger conversation. For many businesses, B2B purchase decisions aren’t impulsive, low-risk transactions. Particularly at the enterprise level, multiple stakeholders across a business are involved in the decision to buy B2B products or services. They expect to vet your offering against local and international competition and consider the impact of implementation on business strategy, process, and resourcing.
There are many reasons beyond price and your prospects’ internal logistics considerations that may cause B2B conversion-focused marketing to fail in a new market. Savvy international buyers are unlikely to take the plunge into an enterprise solution costing tens (if not hundreds) of thousands of dollars without careful scrutiny.
To get results, global B2B marketers need to adjust their strategy. Here are a few common reasons B2B lead generation flounders in international markets.
Reason #1: Mistrust of American Brands
If you don’t establish a trusted brand presence in your international target markets, you can expect limited success. Many parts of the world perceive US B2B brands as transaction-driven and uninterested in the relationship with their international clients. They may question your brand’s motivation and ability to understand their needs, support them, and be in tune with their business culture. Western Europe, in particular, typically prefers to support local businesses that come with an innate sense of trust, rather than go with a US brand.
Reason #2: Local Competitors
Winning international business over competitors who are local to that market can be a big challenge. You’re up against companies who have been operating there for a long time. They also have a high level of brand awareness and spend the majority of their budget in that market.
The same is often true in reverse. Most North American companies spend the majority of their marketing and advertising dollars on US-domestic marketing. Even the most established US brands often view international digital marketing as exploratory. They often underestimate what it takes to measure up to local competitors’ full marketing spend. Companies local to that market have an understanding of the local landscape and a dedication to maximizing that opportunity, giving them an edge.
Reason #3: Global Competitors
If your domestic competitors are also expanding globally, it’s likely they see the same markets you’re pursuing as key targets. Their larger budget, combined with a deeper dedication to driving authentic local engagement, can create another setback in your ability to capture market share.
HOW TO FIX YOUR B2B LEAD GENERATION IN INTERNATIONAL MARKETS
Many B2B companies skip the crucial step of building brand awareness in a new market. Instead, they want to spend their (often limited/exploratory) budget on tactics that will directly prove ROI. But to really gain traction, global B2B marketers must supplement conversion-based tactics with brand awareness, as they likely already do domestically.
INTERNATIONAL PROGRAMMATIC MARKETING
Programmatic is a great option for building awareness with your key in-country stakeholders because of its unique targeting capabilities (especially useful if you have a niche business). Programmatic also allows for sequential messaging, retargeting, and out-of-home placements. Depending on your budget, you can target digital displays in city centers and business districts across the globe.
Overall, international programmatic is a cost-effective brand awareness tactic where you can drive success with a small budget. And it causes a lift in performance for all your other marketing efforts. (Like direct traffic to your site, paid social, and paid search.)
INTERNATIONAL PR & LOCAL PODCASTS
Let local journalists and publications know that your product is coming to market, just as you would in the US. Getting coverage in local media will help lift your international SEO performance. In-market publicists can help you get on local podcasts that specialize in your industry, helping you build credibility in an authentic, relevant way.
If your company has people on the ground in an international market, consider having a presence at industry-specific tradeshows for your target locales. As with US domestic event strategy, you can build out locale-specific digital campaigns around each event. This will increase brand awareness before the event and continue to build momentum after.
Who does your in-country audience trust to provide reliable insights and recommendations? And on which digital channels can they be found? Partnering with the right local influencers (macro, micro, or a mix of both) to supplement your global social media strategy increases confidence in your brand at the local level.
Like Quora in the US, there are digital communities across the world where people go to get answers to specific problems. (Zhihu in China is one such digital community.) Here, you can provide authentic responses to your local audience’s most pressing issues while subtly highlighting your product or service. Work with in-country experts to advise on the most relevant community groups for your industry/niche.
These tactics are all about increasing the frequency your target audiences see your brand in spaces they trust the most. This makes it much easier to measure up to the competition and convert your audience at the moment of intent.
As always, the most effective international B2B lead generation approach will depend on your target market. The right marketing localization partner will help you gain in-country insights to understand opportunities that are best for your brand, and help you make a locally authentic impact.
Conversion-based tactics alone won’t lead to a successful international B2B lead generation strategy. It’s critical to include brand awareness in your global strategy. Brand confidence will increase in your target markets, as well as the frequency trusted sources within each locale talk about you.
This builds confidence in your brand, which can give you an edge over existing local brands and other global competitors. An omni-channel approach to global brand awareness will solidify your international lead generation efforts – and position you to fill your pipeline with high-quality MQLs.