International Business Strategies

For Telecom, Does ‘New Markets’ Mean New Marketing?

Learn how savvy telecom companies can adapt existing marketing content for new global customers.

Dominic Dithurbide's avatar
Dominic Dithurbide

May 11, 2016


Telecom companies are among the world’s most brand- and marketing-savvy organizations. But when these corporations expand into new markets, that undisputed skill and craft can lose its clarity. Do new global markets require new marketing? If so, by how much? A tweak of creative here and there, or something more far more systemic and expensive?

For well over a decade, MotionPoint has helped the world’s largest telecom companies enter new online markets with translated and localized websites. Along the way, we’ve discovered insights on how to cleverly re-purpose and modify a telecom company’s primary-market online messaging for global markets. This can reduce costs, while still wooing new consumers.

The need to expand into new domestic and international markets is obvious, and critical, for telecom companies. The stakes are high: as wireless carriers saturate their ultra-competitive primary markets with marketing and ad spends (and increasingly find their market share stagnating or slipping), new frontiers in overseas markets now represent untapped sources of revenues and loyal customers.

Much of the telecom industry’s growth will happen in emerging markets. Analysts continually report that “developing countries will experience phenomenal growth in mobile take-up” between now and 2020. (This is also likely contributing to the surging value of global wireless telecom stocks in recent years.)

“We are opportunistic within a defined area, but it’s within emerging markets,” Ernst & Young analysts recently wrote in its 2015 Global Telecommunications Study. “Our general view is that you have to keep an eye on large markets in Middle East, North Africa and Asia-Pacific.” So how can telecom organizations savvily adapt their primary-market marketing content for new domestic and global customers? Some heavy lifting is required … though not as much as most marketers might think.

We consider linguistic fluency—meaning, translating online content for international customers—as “table stakes” when engaging new markets online. This practice of literally talking the talk is the mission-critical first step, but walking the walk—communicating in ways, and in channels, that are relevant to these consumers—is essential to long-term success. For example, it’s important to invest legwork into understanding locally-preferred social media networks. (Facebook isn’t the most popular network in many global markets.)

Simply translating the content of your primary-market’s website as-is will generate interest and engagement with your new customers, but we’ve found that some content customization—aka localization—makes all the difference in making your site resonate in-market. We’ve found that localizing about 10% to 20% of your global site is enough to really move the needle, in regards to boosting engagement, traffic and conversion rates.

Some analysts call this practice “glocalization.” As one marketing agency advised, “Actually, it’s almost necessary to be ‘glocal’ with your message when targeting an international audience. It’s not only important to understand the cultural and language barriers and adjust your message for each market, but it’s also crucial to understand all cultural references and significant events and holidays. … The brands that do global marketing well have a local identity but remain consistent across borders.”

We’ve helped our telecom clients generate notable success, thanks to this tactic. In 2013, we launched an A|B experiment designed to determine if one of our Spanish-language sites (serving a U.S. telecom client’s Spanish-speaking clientele) could generate more revenue if international calling plans were more aggressively promoted. This seemed like a sound hypothesis; after all, many U.S. Hispanic residents have extended family living overseas.

Using our exclusive Market Manager technology, we placed a homepage banner highlighting the company’s unlimited international calling plan page. About half of the Spanish site’s visitors saw the homepage promotion.

The campaign was an unmitigated success. Among customers who saw the banner, visits grew by 850%. Revenue rose by 117%. Average order value increased over 40%.

The services we provided another U.S. wireless carrier also generated powerful results. After the company rebranded and redesigned its primary-market English site, we translated and localized this content for its site serving U.S. Hispanics. This Spanish site saw an 11% increase of time on-site, a 3% decrease in bounce rate, and a 125% surge in conversion.

In fact, data suggests our translations and localizations helped this Spanish website convert customers at a higher rate than the company’s English site!

Indeed, understanding the needs of consumers in new domestic and global markets is key—just as it is in your company’s primary market. Virgin Mobile recently wanted to convey a message of “friendliness and approachability” to its target demographic, 18- to 24-year-olds. By partnering with Buzzfeed, a site popular among these consumers, the company was able to create relatable content that transmitted the appropriate brand message, and created enthusiastic engagement among customers.

This proactive approach applies not only to on- and off-site marketing content, but also a telecom company’s conversion funnel. We often closely monitor conversion rates on the global sites we operate, and recommend tweaking translations in A|B tests to generate upticks in conversions when necessary. By testing the effectiveness of creative translations against others, companies can quickly identify the most effective messaging to capture a target market’s imagination.

This tactic works. We recently applied one such test to a client’s checkout flow, and observed that such meticulous variations in word choice yielded higher conversion rates. Without this locally-minded Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO), our client was missing out on revenue growth.

Another MotionPoint telecom client saw a boost with a similar CRO program. Our conversion-funnel localizations increased visits to promoted content by nearly 15%, and generated a nearly 20% increase in conversions.

Ultimately, “be aware of what your target market values,” one of our analysts recently wrote. “The primary feature of your offerings in your flagship market may not be something your next target market cares much about. Instead of pushing what you think is valuable, conduct market research to determine what these new consumers want—and make it clear you offer it.”

This research can benefit more than your company’s local marketing efforts; it can also inform product development.

Last updated on May 11, 2016
Dominic Dithurbide's avatar

About Dominic Dithurbide

Dominic Dithurbide is a creative, goal-driven marketing leader that’s dedicated his career to the translation industry. Dominic brings proficiency in global marketing, demand generation, and go-to-market strategies to MotionPoint’s marketing team.

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