Over the years, as a digital marketing agency in Asia gaining experience working with several businesses in various industries in different countries in Asia, we have come across some “traits” that appear to be quite specific to Asian businesses and can sometimes create “barriers” that can restrict them working with businesses with a more Western focused business culture.
So with this in mind, we decided to create this list of recommended digital related business approaches that can help to ensure that an Asian centric business can be positioned on an international level and potentially help to engage with more Western focused businesses that result in more fruitful relationships and can often lead to more business revenue growth.
Here are 10 digital focused approaches that can be adopted to create a Western B2B digital marketing strategy:
1. Use a Business Website Domain Email Address
It can be quite common in certain countries in Asia for people communicating within a business to use a generic email address such as an @gmail.com, @yahoo.com or another email domain extension that is associated with a personal email address by a Western business audience.
A potential customer who is used to more Westernised business communication may view a non-company domain email address as being less professional and it may create a negative perception of your company. They may get the perception that your company is “too small to work with” because you don’t have an email address with your company name as the domain.
The main reasons that non-company domain email addresses are sometimes used in Asian business can be due to:
- Prioritising a businesses Instagram or Facebook account as the main face of their business (instead of a website)
- The business website being less important for potential customers who are Asian focused businesses
- Businesses in Asia being more comfortable having business related communications via messaging platforms such as WhatsApp, Facebook or Instagram messaging
It can often be the case that someone in a more Western focused business may prefer to have business communication via email rather than an instant messaging platform because they have a clearer record of the communication trail and there can be less chance of key information being missed or getting lost.
One of the main reasons we often see as to why businesses choose not to use a company domain based email address is because they don’t know how to technically configure their email address to be the same domain as their company website domain.
Configuring your email address on your company domain can be done in the following two main ways:
Company Email Domain Setup Solution 1
Set up a webmail account within your web hosting control panel, where your website domain is hosted. It is likely that the web hosting company you host your web domain with manages your hosting through something called cPanel and if this is the case you can then set up a company domain based email address via the cPanel.
Once setup, you can set up the webmail address features to access your email inbox or if you’d prefer to use a full email client that can be accessed as an app on your phone and on a desktop, we’d recommend using a free email app like Bluemail and learn how to configure your email account within the app so you can use it as an inbox.
If you currently don’t have your company domain hosted online, then we recommend Fastcomet as our preferred hosting as they provide hosting for small businesses at a low price, have great support and offer hosting within data centers in Asia.
Company Email Domain Setup Solution 2
An common alternative to using webmail within your web hosting account and linking your email hosting details to an email app client is to link your company domain to a third party email service such as Google Workspace (previously known as GSuite), which enables you to use a Gmail interface to manage your emails but instead of having an @gmail.com address you can use a company domain based email address.
Using this cloud service will cost you 6 USD per month but can be worth it if you use the online cloud storage that Google provides you in Google Drive. Once you have signed up for a Google Workspace account you will need to add your company domain to link it to the Google Workspace and start using it within the Gmail interface.
To ensure you can use Gmail fully and send and receive all email via your company email address you will need to activate Gmail in your Google Workspace, which involves placing specific MX records in your web hosting DNS settings, this can be done by following these instructions if your web hosting uses cPanel.
2. Ensure You have a professional and modern looking website
It’s important that your website looks professional, uses a design and colour scheme relevant to the industry your business operates in and uses a https SSL security protocol to demonstrate that your website is secure.
A Western business is highly likely to view the perception of your website as a very important factor in their decision making on whether to approach you as a supplier.
Understanding what constitutes good international web design is a very important part of an international business strategy.
As part of a good web design strategy, you could consider analysing how users currently use your website by including a user analysis analytics tool on your website such as HotJar, which enables you to watch videos of people using your website and also to review heatmaps of how users interact with specific web pages on your website.
3. Ensure Your Website Contains the Most Up to Date Information
It’s common for some businesses in Asia to have inconsistent information across their online assets. For example, a company may include a set of services and pricing on their website that is out of date and only have the latest and correct version of the information on their Instagram account (or other social media profile accounts).
If an international business makes an inquiry through your website and references out of date information, which you then have to update them on, they may lose trust in your business before you have even had a chance to develop a potential relationship.
4. Showcase Testimonials and Case Studies on Your Website
If a Western business is looking at working with a business on an international level and in Asia, then the decision makers within those businesses will want to see signals of competence and professionalism, so being able to review testimonials and read case studies of products and services your business has delivered on previously will help to show that your business has those qualities.
Including such content like galleries and downloadable pdf documents help to provide a point of future reference for businesses going through a procurement process.
5. Have an Active Presence on LinkedIn
LinkedIn provides a platform for international business, to network and communicate with relevant potential and existing customers. A professional presence on LinkedIn should include the following:
- An active LinkedIn company page with relevant content posts each month
- Clear information about your products and services in the About tab section of your LInkedIn company page
- Post regularly about your business’ key events on your personal LinkedIn profile
- Look to regularly connect with other international peers in your industry, as this will help you portray your business as being more internationally focused
- Where relevant, use LinkedIn’s messaging feature to develop new potential customer relationships and consider moving conversations over to email, when suitable
- To help you participate on LinkedIn more efficiently, consider using tools such as LinkedIn Helper that can help semi-automate the execution of your LinkedIn strategy
- If you have the available marketing budget, then promoting any industry insights or commentary included on your website could be considered as an good advertising strategy option.
- LinkedIn Ads enable you to target specific profiles in certain industries, companies and with specific job titles, allowing you to create a very targeted promotion strategy.
6. Build an Email List
Western businesses typically use email as their primary method of business communication, so building an email list that includes relevant advocates, peers, customers and future potential customers, should be considered as a primary digital business strategy.
You can build a list by offering insights and information that require people to submit their business email address to gain access to the premium information you are offering.
Creating online industry surveys and creating subsequent industry reports are excellent ways of increasing the amount of contacts on your main business email list(s).
7. Write Industry Articles Specific to Solutions You Can Provide
Creating content to demonstrate your industry expertise on an international level can help to demonstrate the high quality knowledge and high levels of competence of your business.
Articles can be optimised to be found in the organic search results by international businesses and if found and read can often impress key decision makers in international, Western based businesses and help establish trust and confidence for a potential international buyer looking for an industry supplier in Asia.
When deciding what topics to write articles, we recommend researching what kind of search queries are used on search engines, related to the topic you plan to write about.
Using tools such as Keysearch and Answerthepublic provide a very cost effective way of finding out the search volume levels for relevant industry niche search keywords used in search on a worldwide level and specifically within the countries you wish to gain the most exposure for your content.
Writing content in article based format is a quick and efficient way to produce content for your website. However you could also consider longer content formats such as guides (as pdf eBooks) that can be provided in return for business details via a lead capture form.
8. Understand Business Culture in the Countries You Wish to work with the Most
If you can gain an in-depth understanding of the business culture and customs in specific countries you wish to gain more business within, then this can help you to adapt your communication processes and style, as well as understand how best to negotiate with potential international customers.
Business practices can vary significantly from country to country, so studying resources on the following websites could be of great benefit:
These resources provide excellent insights into how you can adapt your business style in order to mirror other international businesses in certain countries that you wish to work with.
Many businesses in Asia are already very savvy on how to do businesses with Western originated businesses. However, as a small business, this information can act as a checklist to ensure you are doing all you can to advance your international business strategy, if you so wish.
To recap, our recommended approach can be distilled into the following best practices:
- Use an email address that includes your business website domain name
- Ensure your website looks as professional and up to date as possible
- Make sure you have testimonials and case studies on your website
- Make the time to build and nurture a LinkedIn presence for your company profile and your personal profile
- Consider building an email list over time that can allow you to keep advocates, peers and potential future customers updated with your business offerings
- Produce insights based content to include on your website, that demonstrates your business expertise and why international businesses should work with you
- Have a clear understanding of the business culture and typical traits that people from certain countries may have, so you can adapt your communication style with a certain business in certain country or region
If you’d like to discuss some specific international B2B digital marketing strategies that your business could use then Get in touch with us.
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