With Peter Larkin, Vice President of International for True Influence.
B2B sellers who want to win new customers in international markets face some distinct challenges. Obviously, they need to engage with buyers who are actively interested in their products or services. But concerns over privacy, particularly the EU’s new General Data Privacy Regulation (GDPR), and the imperative to create compelling, personalized messaging for IT decision-makers in their native language add layers of complexity to international B2B marketing strategies.
It’s worth the investment — the potential for B2B sales growth in international markets is enormous. Gross merchandise volume (GMV) for B22 ecommerce in Asia last year was projected at more than $6 trillion USD, about six times as that in North America. In the B2B technology sector — a core market focus for us here at True Influence — more than three-quarters of online purchase research originates outside North America, with Europe and the Middle East generating well over 40 percent of search activity. Even back in 2014, more than two-thirds of B2B tech searches in English came from outside the U.S. and Canada, according to well-publicized research from Google.
At True Influence, we’re focused on supporting customers who already incorporate demand gen and other account acceleration services as they try to win new international business. These are companies that are doing great in the U.S. and want to extend their successful programs, including Account-Based Marketing (ABM) strategies, into global markets.
I’d describe these customers’ demand generation priorities as falling into three major categories.
This is the top priority for any demand generation program, whether your target market is international or domestic. It all starts with accurate contact info and demonstrated interest in your product — if you can’t reach the prospect or they just don’t care about your message, all other concerns quickly become moot.
This boils down to verification and quality checks by your demand gen service provider. We triple-check our TeleLEADS and ContentLEADS products to ensure we pass along current business contact information for prospects that are actively evaluating a purchase. We’re also able to identify and engage interest around fairly niche topics in specific regions.
Again, there’s really no difference in domestic and international markets when it comes to the importance of data quality. It’s simply so vital that it must be at the top of your demand gen checklist — everything starts with verified, engaged leads.
If your company is engaged in data-driven B2B marketing, you’ve been reading up on the impact of the new GDPR, which affects any company that does business in the European Union.
GDPR went into effect about two months ago, I’d say there’s still a lot of confusion about the exact responsibilities of third-party lead providers and B2B marketers under the broad-ranging data and privacy regulations. This article at threatpost is a little less generous, calling GDPR compliance a “quagmire,” at least for now. It notes that less one-third of U.S. companies in a recent survey by Compliance Point said they were fully aware of GDPR; 26 percent said they were unaware of it entirely.
In my experience, OEMs and our other demand gen customers want to be confident that the leads they are getting from third-party providers are absolutely locked down under GDPR guidelines (the threat of literally billions in fines over serious data breaches tends to grab people’s attention.)
Much of the confusion over GDPR stems from its definitions of different roles and responsibilities for parties who handle personally identifiable information. These basically fall into two categories: Controllers, which collect data, and Processors, which process data on behalf of Controllers.
Back in January, our Craig Weiss offered a solid overview of how GDPR affects B2B marketers — essentially, you have to make it perfectly clear to consumers that they are opting into a marketing program, and you must must give them explicit control over any personal data you gather, including easily and permanently opting out (this is commonly referred to as the “right to be forgotten”). You also must maintain clear records of how data is gathered and secured, and catalog response protocols if a privacy breach does occur.
B2B demand generation customers, particularly those who want to do business in the EU, need full visibility and iron-clad assurances that every lead they onboard is compliant with GDPR, particularly in the areas of consent and opt-out. At True Influence, we’ve dedicated a cross-functional team to ensure our own GDPR compliance and to continually monitor and improve our practices and policies.
This continuous process is key. GDPR won’t be the last privacy regulation B2B marketers have to deal with — other international markets, and perhaps even the U.S., will follow. Protecting personal data and privacy is essential, and after all, if a B2B prospect doesn’t want to consent to being contacted, you have nothing to gain by adding them to your CRM.
For now, everybody is trying to get to GDPR compliance. It will happen, but it’s going to take some time.
In-language Content Marketing
I mentioned earlier that most English-language searches on B2B technology terms come from outside the U.S. and Canada. English is still the defacto language of the B2B technology market — again, this is a core audience for us here at True Influence. And English-speaking workforces have fueled the growth of many international markets, such as the Philippines.
But successful ABM campaigns are about connecting with prospects on a personal level, and a key differentiator here is presenting your marketing collateral and messaging in the market’s dominant language.
Surveys have historically shown that consumers favor being able to read about products in their own language over even price as a factor in their purchase decisions. And English is no longer the dominant language across the Internet — more than half of Web site visits are to pages that are not in English.
In the competitive, high-touch B2B marketplace, you must present your content in your prospect’s language. You can’t take an English white paper on virtualization or data backup to Germany or Mexico and expect to win new business. And your third-party demand generation provider must have the same commitment to providing high-quality, in-language content to engage leads.
This goes beyond simply translating blog content and transactional pages. The telecenter team that verifies and enriches third-party leads also needs to communicate with prospects in-langage.
It’s a clear differentiator that you simply can’t afford to overlook.
International Markets are Primed for Growth
Business is truly global. The B2B growth opportunity in international markets is enormous, and it’s going to keep growing. To successfully tackle these opportunities, your B2B marketing team and third-party demand generation providers must be committed to the basics of lead quality, complying with privacy regulations like GDRP, and providing high-quality in-language content marketing assets.
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