Globalization becomes more irresistible by the minute. As the rapidly developing world offers increasing opportunities to boost revenues, more companies in developed countries are looking beyond their own borders for a piece of the pie. But despite the obvious benefits, some are slower than others to increase their global footprint. What’s stopping them?
We got a glimpse of the reasons behind this hesitation from recent research conducted in partnership with Econsultancy. When asked to provide insight on the main challenges hindering expansion of their local market websites, leading and mainstream companies (set apart by their ability to internationalize digital content) had very different perspectives:
A lack of business case and/or understanding of ROI is the main hurdle slowing down mainstream companies. While most believe their content strategies are delivering value, they stumble on challenges linking content investments to sales flow and wind up with little data to back this hunch up. Leaders, on the other hand, are confident in their ability to monetize content. These companies, inspired by data suggesting the commercial benefit of expansion, are more likely to invest in a greater number of markets. Where leaders hit a wall, however, is where investment potential is stifled by deficiencies in technology.
So what does good technology look like?
The new, standardized approach
According to companies excelling in content internationalization, the best technology stack in today’s global marketing landscape is one that is “fit for purpose,”—that is, a “modular, extensible, and standardized tech platform that facilitates expansion into other markets.” Almost two-thirds (63 percent) of content leaders have this modular technology in place, compared to only 12 percent of the mainstream.
“From an internationalization perspective, this entails a modular design that can be leveraged across different countries and which is able to handle multiple languages,” said Dr. Nitish Singh, Professor at the Boeing Institute of International Business and Program Lead for Brand2Global’s Certification in Global Digital Marketing and Localization. “This allows companies to localize different types of content and to create brand consistency. The alternative is to have, for example, 100 different sites which are going to take up significantly more resources and time.”
At Lionbridge, ours is a fairly common B2B marketing technology stack: CRM (Salesforce), CMS (Sitecore), marketing automation (Marketo), content operations/marketing (Kapost), predictive analytics (Everstring), analytics and insights (BrightFunnel), web personalization (Marketo RTP), social (Hootsuite), and web analytics (GA). The key is how these tools interconnect to seamlessly support an expanding web presence. With a global, standardized approach, Singh goes on, “your costs, including maintenance, will be significantly less because you don’t need to make changes across multiple locales. It will also enable more seamless integration with modern content management systems.”
A shift in budgeting
Given content leaders’ tenacity in linking budgets to revenue impact, it was no surprise to find them more enthusiastic than the mainstream to sacrifice resources for expansion. Leaders are planning to increase budgets across all categories of spending in the next 12 months:
Yet centralized technology infrastructure is the clear winner—which highlights just how important standardized tech has become. Six in 10, almost double the percentage of mainstream respondents, plan to increase their content-related budget in this area. Epson, Jupiter Asset Management, and other contributors to this report cite standardization and consolidation of their technology platforms as their biggest priority this year. By investing more into their marketing technology stack, some stand to improve efficiencies in content management, while others aim to improve content effectiveness through automation and personalization.
At the same time, leaders aren’t centralizing IT systems at the cost of local units. More than half plan to increase budgets for local market technology. This backs up what leaders know about the 80/20 rule of “glocalization”: that for global content to be effective, 20 percent of its production and delivery should come from local teams or third parties with in-market expertise.
“It’s not effective enough today to create content that delivers the customer experience that consumers expect,” said Clint Poole, SVP and CMO at Lionbridge, in a recent interview. “You still need language services expertise, either in-house or outsourced externally… These experts can help you leverage the efficiencies the technology provides to reduce costs and time to market, yet still ensure language quality.”
The bottom line
From this research, it’s clear that a consolidated technology stack is the foundation stone in overall content structure. Without it, global content initiatives are unlikely to succeed. A lack of confidence about or constraints in technology are huge factors in hampering experimentation or expansion of web presence for leading and mainstream companies alike.
Of course, while sophisticated technology is fundamental to building a global brand, its capabilities won’t go far without a centralized strategy and operational team.
“Marketers themselves are still learning how best to use these systems. One challenge is overcoming the organizational silos that can exist between the subteams within functions,” said Poole. “Although the tech now connects teams to seamlessly serve the customer, new processes and governance models need to be adapted in order to realize the systems’ full potential.”
How to nail the centralization of content teams is whole new ball game (another blog post for another time), but the report provides interesting insights on how leading companies handle this, too. To learn more about this area, download a free copy here.