In this article, Kateryna points the main differences between marketing to U.S. and European audiences, with an emphasis on language barriers and culture, the proper use of consumer data, and the concept of a strong call-to-action.
In marketing, there is no one-size-fits-all strategy for advertising products around the world. Continents and countries alike have different customs, which means that advertisers need to take into account many factors that lead to a successful ad campaign. Having said that, it is a task that requires in-depth research and an understanding of how cultures differ globally.
E-commerce is well established in the US, with people spending around 36% of their shopping budget online. While this is well known by advertisers, Europe is showing significant annual growth in the industry. Last year alone, e-commerce in Europe was worth €534 Bn (around US$605 Bn).
The continuous increase on both parts has caught the eye of advertisers around the world. The next step is to comprehend how the US and Europe differ culturally, as well as laws that affect marketing and the ways messages are conveyed in both places.
The language barrier and the role of culture in effective advertising
Europe is divided into 50 countries, 28 of which are part of the European Union. What’s more, there are 24 official languages in Europe, compared to the US, where English and Spanish are the most spoken throughout the country. Many EU countries share the same currency, but not the same language and traditions.
Studying national characteristics before launching a marketing campaign is an essential step in understanding a client base. In the US, people speak the same language and consumer purchasing habits are not fundamentally different. Market research companies like PwC, KPMG, and McKinsey & Company have detailed reports which contain valuable information about consuming habits of Europeans and US customers.
Advertising must follow legal requirements, because EU member countries have their own laws. Inability to cover wider audiences with the same advertising campaign is a serious disadvantage. Reaching new audiences provides the opportunity to grow professionally, expand knowledge boundaries, and become a valuable marketing specialist. Advertisers with experience in digital marketing in North America could succeed by implementing inbound marketing strategies in the European market. Factors such as the living conditions of the consumers as well as popular payment methods also contribute to establishing a strong campaign.
Personal data usage and the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)
European consumers tend to pay more attention to their personal data usage, as they prefer to be anonymous online. American consumers, on the other hand, feel comfortable receiving push-notifications, tailored messages, and product recommendations based on their previous shopping experience.
Still, a deeper understanding of end-user expectations can help find the right marketing approach. To solve this paradox, marketers need to personalize ads using minimal user data. It’s important to use personal data wisely, and attract customers with valuable information in the form of personalized messages. Companies should explain to customers how personal data will be used and that it’s collected to provide better personal approach. As such, brands have a chance to gain more trust from European consumers. While this is already underway due to the newly implemented GDPR, other regulations like the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) should also be considered, as they have similar rules.
In comparison, building an ideal customer profile is much easier in the US. American consumers are less conservative and willingly share their data if they understand the purpose of doing so. With this, companies can create more effective targeted advertisements and avoid irrelevant leads. Furthermore, consumers improve their shopping experience by getting relevant product recommendations.
Advertisers aiming not just to enter the market but to strengthen their position within it should understand the importance of market research for deeper end-user understanding. Finally, marketing strategies should comply with the GDPR.
Staying away from a forceful call-to-action (CTA)
Using aggressive CTAs like “Buy now”, “Upgrade my plan now”, and then overtly pushing a product more often deters European consumers instead of converting them. Advertisers should inform audiences and allow them to learn more about a product before trying to upsell. Learning how to write strong CTAs also helps increase conversion rates.
As previously mentioned, Europe unites different cultures, and that’s why consumer purchasing behavior may differ. While a German consumer reads reviews and compares prices, Spanish consumers make purchase spontaneously. Europeans are more sensitive to the value and cost of a certain product, so marketers should inform them as to what is so unique about the product, and give customers a clear understanding of the value of the product.
Appealing to unique selling points of the product would work better for Europeans, rather than appealing to emotional selling points. For example, selling a handbag based on its great anti-theft design is more effective than advertising it on the basis of saying that the brand understands what it’s like to be a working mother of three.
When it comes to holiday campaigns, marketers need to do research in advance and find out what incentives work better. Incentives include free shipping, free gifts with a purchase, discounts on the next purchase, and gift cards or coupon codes.
In the end, advertising campaigns rely heavily on the marketer’s ability to learn about the place where a certain product is being advertised. The ability to understand different cultures and knowing which strategies work best is essential to succeed in international advertising. In our increasingly interconnected world, we will continue to see a gradual shift towards e-commerce as a major shopping outlet. While advertising internationally presents its own set of challenges, tapping into new markets has the potential to generate profit for brands around the world.