Ready for international expansion? Scale your business abroad with Leverate Media
Leverate works with a multitude of start-ups and fast growing companies with a digital business model (e.g. e-commerce, apps, and e-services). Many of them need to scale their business rapidly in order to succeed in a highly competitive environment. One way to do that: international expansion.
Once a business is established and thriving in its domestic market, it is often seen as the right time to expand the business into new territories. This is very often initiated by decreasing growth rates and increasing acquisition costs in a saturated home market. Expanding into a new market can be an effective way to leverage your core business for growth. Once you’ve made the decision to enter a new market, you must carefully plan your market entry approach and properly assess the associated opportunities and risks of a particular market.
Marketing and media are two very important components and key drivers for a successful market entry. After all, your reason for international expansion is new revenue sources which requires buyers of your product. This is especially true for companies with a scalable, digital business model that is all set to be fully leveraged by the right media setup.
Proven roadmap for market entry
Leverate has years of experience supporting companies, such as Spotify, Secret Escapes, and Freeletics, as they launch and scale in new markets across Europe, Asia and North America with an efficient advertising campaign set-up based on our proven market entry road map. The road map is sketched out below, consisting of three crucial steps in a market entry with the optimal media setup to support rapid growth:
(1) Ramp-Up Phase
The ramp-up phase is the fundamental first step. It is a crucial step to ensure that everything is aligned and resources dedicated for the soft launch phase to provide the necessary value in the form of media testing and data generation to maximize the media efficiency and scalability when entering the launch phase.
The ramp-up phase contains of, first, a detailed and holistic market entry road map including all involved business partners (e.g. creative agency, distributors, web programmers etc.), timelines, milestones, objectives and media and sales KPIs;. Second, a series of kick-off meetings with all involved parties is needed in order for Leverate Media to ensure that individual work is completely aligned with the greater project objectives and complement each other. Third, a project management setup consisting of members of your team and Leverate’s ditto will be sin charge of monitoring milestones, objectives and deliverables. Finally, a tech audit will take place prior to the start of phase two, the soft launch, by technical experts at Leverate and your company to test and guarantee the functioning of all technical necessities (e.g. tracking pixels and page load).
(2) Soft-Launch Phase
The soft-launch phase is similar to a “beta start” with the aim of testing and optimizing digital functionalities, operations, ad creations, delivery and media performance by conducting relevant test scenarios. This phase builds the foundation for a long and meticulous data-driven path of scaling your ad activities. Combined with learnings from other markets, the growing amount of insights generated in the soft launch phase about what works best in the new market in terms of, for instance, messaging, targeting, and bidding, will result in a more efficient scaling of your business in the launch phase.
Our experience is that the best performing and most efficient media channels in the beginning of a market entry are digital channels, such as search, affiliate and Facebook/Instagram. Especially Facebook provides you with deep and comprehensive insights about potential target audiences, best performing creatives and product preferences in the new market. All existing insights from the domestic market or other previously launched markets should be taken into account for the test campaign setup, of course. However, it is not uncommon to learn during the beta start tests that the target audience may differ significantly from your home market or that the brand messages need to be slightly altered to be compelling to an audience with a different cultural background. “New and ground-breaking” may not be as great a selling point as “Tried and Tested”, depending on your audience’s culture.
All test campaigns within the soft launch phase have very competitive and ambitious targets (e.g. ROI, CPO, CPL, CPI). In order to achieve these ambitious targets, a distinguished and intelligent campaign optimization process is necessary. Leverate´s campaign optimization approach is based on test-and-learn sequences to acquire the insight necessary for both performance (how do we reach our target KPIs?) and scalability (how do we maintain performance once we ramp up the campaign scope?).
The optimization approach is designed to identify the best performing combinations of image, copy, targeting and several other criteria that ensures your campaign hits the desired KPIs. Once we know what ads and channels perform best, we do not stop. In order to be able to scale the campaign in the launch phase, several best performers are required. New testing sequences are done based on the best performer in the soft launch phase. Our scaling process is designed to reveal even deeper insights and granular combinations of audiences and ad creatives, allowing further scaling while maintaining the target KPIs.
Besides the digital performance channels, Direct Response TV (DRTV) can be an important channel for entering and scaling rapidly in a new market. Leverate recommend that you start a DRTV test campaign once the digital channels (especially Search Engine and Facebook) are working efficiently. The TV test campaign should not be too minimalistic (few spots, few networks) nor should it be a full-blown TV campaign where you risk wasting money by replicating what works at home or planning for reach and branding only. It’s a fine line to tread and Leverate can support you with identifying the perfect TV budget and plan for a DRTV test in line with your needs and objectives.
(3) Launch (Scaling) Phase
This third and final step is the start of scaling your business in the new market. Absolute efficiency and scalable media performance are essential in order for you to meet your mid- and long-term sales and growth objectives, which make the foundation you built through the prior phases more than crucial. In the scaling phase, multiple yet holistically aligned online and offline media channels will provide you with massive high quality traffic that needs to be converted perfectly. Furthermore, not only will it boost sales, it will also have valuable viral and branding effects to bring you an established brand in your new market. This is the tipping point. From here on its pure dedication that is necessary to extract the maximum and to truly multiply the effects. Relentlessly optimizing all media channels, combining performance and branding media, as well as coordinating online and offline channels will make the difference in gaining significant market shares to get ahead in the competition.
This blog post is an adapted version of an article that featured in Leverate Media’s company magazine ‘Leverate ONE‘.