In today’s interconnected world, countries made of various communities offer rich tapestries of cultural nuances. We all know how the world has changed – from accepting differences to pushing them back. It seems essential to include everyone; this is probably one of the most critical ethos a marketer should have.
For digital marketers, understanding and respecting these nuances isn’t just an ethical imperative—it’s a business one. Brands that can adeptly navigate this terrain can create resonant campaigns that genuinely connect with their target communities.
What are the potential tactics to engage with target communities?
While tactics should be adapted to each audience and industry your brand is part of, there are some directions you should keep in mind when targeting communities:
Geo-Targeted Ad Campaigns
For instance, targeting ads to regions with a high percentage of Spanish-speaking households in the U.S. if your product or service is relevant to them. You may define a new online customer journey for that target community.
Cultural Calendar Awareness
There are many cultural celebrations across the world. While some communities might have left those behind, others will take them to their new home country. Promoting products during Diwali for Indian communities, for example, as long as those products are relevant to this culture, can be an excellent way to connect and engage with the target communities.
Localized Landing Pages
I can already picture many marketers panicking while reading this section, thinking they must translate their entire website into different languages. It will make sense to target a foreign country where the language and legal requirements are different (in France, a website should be in French to promote it). To effectively target communities, landing pages can be enough. For example, a skincare brand targeting the South Korean community might emphasize products aligned with Korean skincare rituals through a landing page with a nicely crafted infographic.
Engage with influencers who resonate with the target community. Influencers can be of all sorts – macro or micro – and can be their followers. Diversity is vital, and engaging with an influencer who understands the struggles, pain points, or just the priorities of their community can be a significant asset for your brand.
Diverse Representation in Content
This is a straightforward way of ensuring each community is included and, yet, underused. An international university might use testimonials from students of diverse nationalities, and a product can be showcased with imagery that can represent various communities.
Multilingual Content & Customer Support
This is the tricky one. Unfortunately, many brands don’t offer customer service in various languages unless they target a specific country – and this practice follows two principles: legal requirements and SEO requirements since major search engines classify and render content based on language relevancy and location. However, targeting specific communities and offering them support in their language can significantly benefit your brand awareness and retention. We always suggest our clients to check whether their staff can speak other languages. Chances are high that they do, but you did not know it!
Community-Based Groups and Forums
This is one of the low-hanging fruit. You can easily connect and engage with forums and groups on social media where your target community interacts. For example, engaging with specific dietary practices like Halal or Vegan diets through dedicated forums is a fast and easy way to connect and to hear feedback. Be aware, though, that each forum or group has their own rules, and you may discuss with the admin the possibility of promoting your brand without disturbing the group!
Feedback Loops and Surveys
Understanding your target community is endless work. You must identify each touch point and see if those users drop anywhere. We’ve often seen brands giving up on community targeting because “it was not working.” It WAS working, but they still need to identify the gaps. For example, checking and offering the preferred payment methods in a community can drastically increase sales.
Culturally Relevant Content Marketing
Content is king – well, of course, as it is the backbone of any successful communication exercise! If you think about your brand, what it offers and the added value, you may consider further and see how to engage with a specific community. As a tourism industry brand, writing articles on “Top 10 Ramadan-Friendly Travel Destinations” can work very well, but you need to think further – would the Muslim community travel during Ramadan, or would they stay with their families close by? Who are the ones travelling? Are they in our target personas?
With the increasing use of Augmented Reality, you can offer an interactive experience to your target communities. For example, a footwear brand might offer an A.R. experience during Brazil’s Carnival, or during the Holi festival build-up, a brand could offer a very colourful experience on one of its products!
Targeting communities can benefit your brand and strengthen the inter-community relationship by having a common point of reference (your brand!). However, you can also encounter serious, damaging pitfalls like any marketing approach.
What are the pitfalls to avoid?
Cultural Insensitivity or Stereotyping
Misusing cultural symbols without understanding their significance can lead to more damage than benefits. You may discredit your brand for your lack of knowledge and cultural awareness.
Over-Generalization and Not Seeking Local Insights
We all look at the world through our own cultural lenses. The brain and its cognitive activity classify other cultural factors in boxes. While we can differentiate preferences, habits, and beliefs from our culture, we tend to group other cultures as one block. Understanding a different culture creates a community full of different people, so you will only treat some community members as having the same preferences or experiences.
If you are serious about targeting a different community, you must put effort into it. Including diverse groups without genuine engagement can be damaging and make your brand a no-go for that community. Remember, bad experience tends to be shared more quickly than good ones. For example, how often can we see a “halal” restaurant that does not correctly follow the cultural rules? How often can we see those “hip” restaurants offering vegetarian food but cutting their meat on the same board? Engage and care.
Neglecting Regional Differences
This one often comes along with point 2 above. Thinking a community is made of the same people, with the same behaviour or belief, is a recipe for disaster. Overlooking nuances between communities within a larger group will prevent your brand from failing.
Poor Translation or Localization
If you choose to target a community using their preferred language, great! But remember to make sure your translations recognize cultural context.
Over-Reliance on Digital Stereotypes
This is a common mistake, whether you are targeting a specific community or not. Making assumptions about platform preferences based on age or other demographics can lead to a failed campaign. Do your research properly!
Dramatically changing brand identity to cater to different communities by swapping colours, fonts, etc., to make it more “community-oriented” is incorrect. The principles of branding and marketing should apply here. Consistency is key.
Failure to Monitor and Adjust
Ignoring feedback from a specific community will lead you to failure, too. Let’s face it: you don’t come across input from your customers often – and those who get them should listen and see how they can adapt their approach.
Over-Promising and Under-Delivering
Let’s be clear: promising to cater to a community’s needs and not following through will also damage your brand. Follow through if you think your product or service will add value to this community. If you just want to find another opportunity to make money by targeting a new audience, refrain – you will not only get a very minimum ROI, but you might also damage your brand reputation in other audience segments you are reaching out to.
Now that you know the tactics and pitfalls, are you still considering reaching out to specific target communities? If so, terrific! Now, let’s make sure your brand is ready for it.
Is your brand ready to manage multiple community engagements?
Brands need a careful strategy to manage multi-community engagement without alienating any group. The political climate can trigger a sense of abandonment for those already targeted communities when you introduce another community target. Below are some tips to make sure you avoid this matter or control it better.
- Unified Brand Values: Core brand values should remain consistent across all campaigns and should not be changed according to the audience you are targeting but should apply to the new audience.
- Inclusivity Over Exclusivity: Ensure tailored campaigns don’t exclude other communities.
- Transparency and Communication: Clearly convey the brand’s intent and reasons for targeting specific communities, especially if your product is beneficial to all.
- Broad Campaigns with Niche Sub-Campaigns: Have overarching campaigns for wider audiences and niche campaigns for specific communities.
- Rotate Spotlight Between Communities: Diversify the focus to include different communities over time.
- Encourage Cross-Cultural Appreciation: Educate one community about another’s customs and celebrations. Anger and frustration are usually triggered by fear, misconception or misunderstanding.
- Responsive Feedback Handling: Address any feedback or concerns from communities promptly – don’t bury your head in the sand; a tiny spark can turn into a destructive fire.
- Culturally Diverse Teams: Include representatives from various communities in decision-making teams. We advise targeting communities you feel comfortable with because you think you or your staff know them well enough to reach out to them.
- Consistent Community Engagement: Show genuine interest in communities outside of sales campaigns. If you care for that specific community, show it to them.
- Educate, Don’t Appropriate: Approach cultural elements with respect and an intent to educate. This one should be applied to day-to-day life!
In conclusion, the diverse communities within countries like Canada or the USA present both an exciting opportunity and a challenge for digital marketers. By leveraging the right strategies, awareness of potential pitfalls, and consistently showing respect and genuine interest, brands can build meaningful and lasting connections with various audiences. If you are interested in exploring community targeting, contact us!