Image by pixagraphic via Flickr.

Image by pixagraphic via Flickr.

Over the last several years, digital marketing has become fragmented, with silos sprouting up around SEO, ad sales, PR, social media, inbound marketing and other areas of the industry. The phrase “content marketing” has become so hot so quickly because it seems to make sense of it all.

Content marketing is the glue that holds all these interconnected elements together. But its rise has sent many companies scrambling to rethink and redefine their marketing strategies.

International brands in particular are struggling with how to effectively execute content marketing strategies across multiple regions. Content marketing on a global level requires far-flung regions and departments to collaborate more closely than ever before.

Here are three key considerations for global brands and agencies looking to adapt to the content marketing era.

Understand local differences

Just because something worked in one country, does not mean it will work globally. Content creation should be coordinated and developed in collaboration with multiple regions. This ensures global alignment, with due consideration of regional variance.

HSBC’s “Think global, act local” campaign is a perfect encapsulation of this philosophy.

MasterCard also localizes its marketing for different regions and countries.

“Priceless” is a global strap line, yet the stories the MasterCard brand uses to engage audiences and the promotional incentives it offers vary locally, from NBA basketball experiences in North America and European Football Championship games in Europe, to fashion shows and music concerts across China.

Localize channels and keywords

LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and Google are not market leaders in all countries. Baidu has more than 70 percent of the search market in China, Yandex has two-thirds of search in Russia and Orkut is the social networking leader in India, with 40 percent of the market. International brands who don’t localize their marketing channels do so at their own peril.

Because we live in a world where search ranking can still make or break a brand, content can’t just be translated: It must be localized. Keywords need to consist of terms that a native speaker may actually search for.

Even within English the process of localization is critical. Compare the U.K. terms “auto,” “shopping centre” and “holiday” with their U.S. counterparts “car,” “mall” and “vacation.”

This Google Trends graph shows the popularity of the term "shopping centre" (blue) over the word "mall" (red) in the U.K.

This Google Trends graph shows the popularity of the term “shopping centre” (blue) over the word “mall” (red) in the U.K.

They have the same meaning, but widely different search volumes in different countries. Likewise in Spanish, “coche” is the preferred term for car, yet in Latin America the word can refer to a child’s push chair (or “buggy” or “stroller” depending on where you come from).

Central control, local motivation

The final point is that content does not have to be developed by a single team and then pushed to other regions. Effective content marketing on a global scale empowers local execution and taps into regional market knowledge.

Smart global brands understand this. They have a corporate and brand value, along with a creative idea that resonates globally. But they allow the flexibility for regional marketing teams to create messages and use channels that resonate deeply with local audiences.