Beyond Borders: Facing the Challenges of Multinational Data Sourcing

We are living in a world that has gotten so much smaller thanks to technology and global commerce. We’re also living at an incredible time in marketing, where the opportunity of addressability at scale enables much more personalized, value-added experiences for customers across the world. Direct outreach to new prospects can be a powerful tool for companies looking to expand into new or grow current international markets.

Moving or expanding into international markets is a natural step in driving growth, especially as companies look to repeat the success they’ve had locally. The domestic success of a line of business is always more than just the product or service itself, but entails its entire marketing, sales, and engagement model. When a company looks  to move into new international markets, it typically hopes to leverage the marketing campaigns, the pricing models, the sales processes, the offers, etc., that made the product a successful seller locally. Whether the strategy is to “land and expand” (i.e., find successes with test markets and then grow the program) or “market activation” (i.e., build awareness of a new offering in an already established market), there is usually a desire to export what worked in the domestic market to acquire customers. Most companies, though, find it isn’t quite as simple as “cutting and pasting” their existing customer data strategy into new international markets. Whether looking to optimize international operations or enter a new market, Global CRM implementations present some common, unique challenges.

Infrastructure issues

Customer data may be lacking, inconsistent or absent altogether. Data quality and integration may be difficult across regions as different countries have different levels of maturity in available data and data integration capabilities. Managing and monitoring the quality of the data across the globe is generally not synchronized and thus problematic.

Experience creation 

Channels that are deemed “culturally acceptable” often vary from country to country, and different channels require different types of data to execute. They typically need an understanding of the local language and culture and consideration of the appropriate levels of personalization by country.

Organization 

Often the organization considers some countries riskier than others and lacks the corporate alignment to adjust for each country. Brand reputation and level of awareness vary from country to country. Equally important are alignment of organizational functions — IT, marketing, etc.

Privacy 

Laws will vary by country and each organization has to develop its own strategy for how it wants to operate on the continuum. Demands can vary by legislation, culture, reputation, and your company’s approach to privacy. This ever-changing environment needs to be closely monitored at a country and media level.

Customer strategy 

Companies must align or apply their overall data strategy to local markets. For example, an enterprise-wide customer segmentation strategy may be difficult to apply across markets, but it can also be an intensely powerful customer value currency — one that will create competitive advantage — if developed and adhered to properly.

Financial management 

The right budget structure to support the organizational structure must be determined (i.e., global vs. local), and companies must understand, commit, and align to how the costs will be allocated and behaviors will be conducted in order to achieve desired financial results.

While many of the challenges marketers face are internal, much of the strife is driven by the state of a challenging international data market. The data provider market is both cluttered and fragmented with most reputable data providers covering only a single country or small portion of a region. There are typically different levels of data detail available by country. Some countries have very robust data (e.g., person or individual level information, company attributes, and contacts) while others only have a bare minimum (e.g., company, name, address, and industry). There are typically great variances in the data collected, including availability, quality, completeness, and different privacy regulations and requirements.

While every company, value proposition, program, and campaign has its own unique requirements, at Merkle, our experience has found that there are practices that can form a strong foundation for program exploration and planning.

Keys to mastering international data sourcing

To further explore the challenges and considerations in multinational CRM, join SiriusDecisions and Merkle for an on-demand webinar as we share some of the obstacles facing multinational marketers and innovative approaches for driving lead acquisition, advancing customer data, and ultimately converting those leads into new, high-value customers — using a “Think Global, Act Local” approach.

In our next post, we’ll share best practices for multinational data sourcing success, so check back soon.

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