Thanks to digital advancements taking place all around the world, global strategies are more accessible than ever to enterprise and even mid-level brands. New corners of the world can be reached through mobile technology and high-speed internet access, and many companies recognize that a strong, local market can be complemented by incremental growth of its brands in international markets.
So, consider this: as VP of marketing for a company working primarily in domestic, English-speaking markets, you’ve recently been asked to develop a video marketing strategy for international audiences.
This is a big task: every international audience will present a different set of cultural and language barriers. Language alone can put certain types of content at high risk of being ineffective, unless you include individual translations in your strategy—and even then, supporting the writers, translators, and editors needed to produce this content en masse may not be sustainable.
Video has an advantage in that it is primarily visual, which means it can help bridge language gaps. It isn’t the cheapest form of content—but as production costs go down, video has some interesting cost advantages that give it a leg up where global marketing is concerned. Already, brands are finding ways to leverage video as a medium that helps brands cross borders and language barriers to meet new, interested consumers.
It’s no secret that video continues to gain prominence as a major driver of online traffic. In developed markets, this is because high-speed internet access, along with video-friendly mobile devices, makes it easy to stream video content from any location.
This high-speed infrastructure has been slower to come to developing parts of the world, but it is reaching these consumers nonetheless. According to the Cisco Visual Networking Index Complete Forecast, video is projected to account for 82 percent of all global consumer internet traffic by 2020. Between 2015 and 2020, the average broadband speed experienced by global internet users is projected to nearly double. More than four billion people will be connected to the internet, and they’ll be watching video more than ever.
Brands have recognized this change and they’ve invested in video marketing strategy accordingly. In many cases, though, these strategies are still built for English-speaking audiences. Language does create certain limitations, but some brands are finding ways to make video content more universal.
Creativity is a great asset when building video strategy for multilingual audiences. The language barrier is a top concern for tourism brands, which inevitably cater to audiences spanning the globe. In this department, Vienna’s tourism channel on YouTube is a shining example. They release videos on a regular basis to drive tourism and interest in Austria’s capital city. These videos reach a global audience by being produced in several languages: it is the same video content, only with the narration and in-video text changed.
These videos aren’t only available in Viennese German and English, but also less-common languages, like American Sign Language.
In other cases, brands are leveraging video by encouraging user-generated content. Of course, it’s very on-brand for GoPro to lead by example. The company has become a global sensation by mass-producing the hardware needed to capture exotic experiences from the firsthand experience of brave, adventuring souls. This is an easy use of video for GoPro because the experience of its content isn’t bound by language—you don’t need to know English to appreciate a video of a Swedish man enjoying a little run of snowmobile paragliding:
Meanwhile, video-based demonstrations and instructional videos can be educational and useful to consumers even if they have to rely on the visual. As Forbes points out, San Francisco’s Blue Bottle Coffee has produced a run of video content that teaches consumers the finer points of making coffee, including demonstrations on how to properly roast and prepare coffee beans.
Even if these videos are produced in another language, the consumer might still be able to use the video to learn simply through his familiarity with the product and a focus on proper technique. Brands can aid these non-native speakers by making sure that the visual step-by-step demonstrations are clear and strong, so that they can see what’s happening from one step to the next, even if they can’t understand the accompanying words.
Measurement is important for any campaign, but video targeting international audiences can be a little tricky. Certain tracking channels will need their own adjustments to serve the larger campaign. While analytics solutions like Google Analytics (GA) provide strong, basic data that can track conversions and microconversions driven by your video content, you will need to do the work of creating channels that GA can track to get a better sense of your video engagement efforts.
Strategies like tracking email sign-ups and website browsing are great, and they’re good for supplementing actions like YouTube channel follows, if you’re making use of such a publishing platform. Other calls to action built into the video can be tracked through analytics. Most importantly, your analytics tool will need to be able to segment by country or region so that you can see how global marketing strategy is working in different parts of the world. Poor performance in a specific area can be due to lack of interest, the language barrier, or any number of reasons.
Your brand might be focused on a few select countries and regions rather than the world at large, so it isn’t necessary to target peak performance in every case. But poor performance in a country you have prioritized will demand that you take a second look, not just at the quality of the content itself, but also what cultural variables may be inhibiting its engagement with that local audience.
As a channel that can leverage language, visuals, music and other types of content to build a connection with consumers, video is uniquely positioned as the global marketing strategy of the future. As high-speed internet reaches further around the globe, expect video consumption to stay on the rise.