Originally published on August 12, 2015 in the AMA blog, Elevate.
When it comes to enriching customer data for CRM initiatives or conducting new customer acquisition campaigns using a channel like e-mail, U.S. marketers have the benefit of working in the most prolific, efficient data market in the world.
The U.S. has more than 200 times more data available per capita than any other market. CMOs and senior marketers in the U.S. can count on the ideal combination of market dynamics:
- Low hurdles related to data privacy and data compliance
- A vast array of data providers offering specific, comprehensive, granular data options
- Relatively inexpensive and consistent pricing across the board
- The ability to obtain and deploy the data quickly, and with very few executional problems.
With the exception of the U.K., that same combination of ease, consistency and abundance is not present in almost any market across Europe, Asia or Latin America. Data privacy legislation is significantly more stringent and limiting, with some markets imposing jail time or fines of $1 million per day for errant data collectors.
The quantity, diversity and specificity of data available in international markets is a fraction of the inventory available in the U.S. ecosystem. Pricing is a full-on adventure for which one should always have an experienced guide, and the turnaround time to execute on a project often is two to three times what it would be in the U.S.
Yet, as many corporate behemoths know, we live in a truly global marketplace in which the highest growth rates often are coming from markets outside the U.S., requiring marketers to quickly adapt to a new set of rules and, in the process, re-set nearly all of their U.S.-derived expectations. Here are three best practices for bringing your brand into the global spotlight:
1. Understand local data privacy legislation. Local data privacy legislation, which controls what marketers can and cannot do, is changing very rapidly—and sometimes onerously—in many parts of the world. The free-wheeling, “anything goes” data mentality in the U.S. is not shared by other governments, many of which apply increasingly strict limitations on data collection methodologies, data storage and security requirements, data transfer outside the borders of their country and to third parties, and the permitted use of personal data for marketing purposes.
Collecting consent from a data subject is far more complex than ever before, and requires data collectors to monitor things like the context in which the consent was collected, and the “reasonable expectation” of how the data would be used.
All of this may seem daunting, but it’s actually entirely manageable as long as marketers are working with partners who are experienced with international programs. Start by looking at existing privacy legislation to understand what is and is not allowed in that market. Then check out the data source(s) under consideration for the project and whether their data does or does not comply with local legislation. Finally, look closely at how the data collector obtained the consents from the data subjects, and be sure that the current campaign approach is permitted given the nature of those consents.
2. Re-set your turnaround time clock. Americans are known for their expectation that everything will be done on an emergency basis. The rest of the world rarely operates on our expedited time scale, so before building your execution plan, assume that your activities will take two to three times as long as they would in the U.S. This goes for everything in the project, including identifying and selecting local partners or sources, negotiating with partners or sources for the project, and deploying a campaign or getting enriched customer data back from a processor.
Factors like radically different time zones also create serious problems when trying to manage to a tight timeframe: The time difference between Chicago and Sydney is 15 hours, leaving a very small window of time to conduct conference calls. In some cases, interpreters are needed to refine project specifics and that can gobble up precious days in a tight plan. Local conventions can throw U.S. marketers for a loop, too: Many Middle Eastern markets take their weekends on Fridays and Saturdays instead of Saturdays and Sundays, rendering that Friday deadline for your project in Dubai pretty unworkable.
3. Don’t export your U.S.-based assumptions. We worked with a client recently who wanted to execute a telemarketing campaign in parts of Europe, basically taking its U.S. approach and replicating it in five Western European markets. We were able to convince the client that the markets would not react well to this campaign via telemarketing. Instead, they used a different approach that was less costly and brought a much higher overall response rate and return.
Direct mail can be a very effective medium in certain markets. Many Latin Americans respond extremely well to good mail pieces, but the postal services in many countries in that region, overall, are notoriously unreliable. In some Latin American countries, only 50 to 60% of the mail pieces actually make it to the mailbox. To remedy that, marketers can reach out to private mail delivery services like Sky Postal, which we’ve seen add a 40% lift in response rates simply because virtually all of the mail pieces actually were delivered.
E-mail is many marketers’ medium of choice in the U.S., but in markets such as China, e-mail isn’t the best option, given the way that the population consumes media. Social media platforms are more effective, but since Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and YouTube are all banned in China, marketers must use locally built platforms such as Weibo, China’s biggest social network; WeChat, a free messaging and calling app; Youku, a video-sharing site; and Sohu, a gaming, media and search site.
The key to success with these platforms is working with partners who have huge followings and can reach millions of individuals with a marketing message. This is very doable, and can bring some impressive results if marketers are willing to go with what works in a given market.