Brexit and Export Marketing; Implications for your Digital Strategy

Having founded Inspiration over 17 years ago now, I’ve had extensive experience developing digital marketing strategies for clients exporting globally (yes – that old; but it’s good in business, right?)

Many of the companies we work with are wondering what now in terms of their export marketing and digital marketing so we decided to do a little round-up of some digital considerations but if you’re running out the door and don’t have time to read this short article….

Brexit Bottom Line for B2B Digital Marketing – nothing much to report right now!

Naturally many of the broader Brexit issues such as new barriers to trade, currency fluctuations, legal frameworks etc have an impact on your marketing strategies and digital tactics however these are only marketing tools of your overall business strategy – which may have to change considerably – and quickly.

But in terms of any immediate impact on the digital landscape, nothing much has changed in reality, but here’s two thoughts to bear in mind……..give us a buzz if you want to discuss any of these considerations or other topics mentioned in our newsletter in more depth, in relation to your own export marketing.

Will Border Controls Apply Online?

Jeez I hate to sound like a politician cos I’m sick of listening to them and it’s been a bit of an unpleasant blood sport watching things unfold in the UK in recent weeks, but the answer to this question is – yes and no.

We all know that social media activity has no customs officials stopping traffic at national or EU borders; if it’s out there, it’s out there. Though this statement should be slightly nuanced by the fact that pertaining legislation in different countries has some influence on what’s published.

Similarly if your website is available online then it’s generally available globally, although again there are exceptions to this; China is infamous for its “Great Firewall” system of internet filters and blocks, and the U.S. has extensive legislation too; Irish companies selling tobacco and alcohol products into the U.S. have to block availability of content on their sites until the user identifies themselves as being over 18 or 21 for example. In the EU, we have extensive data privacy legislation which influences site content and availability and the latest update will apply to all EU countries by May 2018 (yes the UK will still be In at that stage – just about)

But what if you’re an Irish exporter with localised websites for regions that include the UK, maybe some European countries and further afield? You may be wondering will Brexit affect the way your site is set up in terms of Google. Well Google (think God for internet visibility) does operate in line with national borders. Google.ie will throw up a different search result than Google.co.uk when the same search is done. Btw when I mention visibility I mean your company’s website being found in Google when someone searches for a relevant product or service you offer – search for “stainless steel tanks” in Google.ie and you’ll see Spectac comes up first in the “natural” or organic listings – this is achieved through Search Engine Optimisation. I would share UK examples but as your set-up is probably defaulting to search Google.ie and your IP address will be identified as Irish – you would get a different result than someone searching in the UK, for example.

So a site well optimised for the Irish market specifically cannot be equally well-optimised for the UK market – they are different “search” areas in terms of Google; though you may have made a decision to effectively “float” your site across both markets, in which case you may well achieve good visibility in both instead of excellent visibility in one market. We have clients that have gone both ways – Spectac International has an Irish and UK site (and French and German) while King & Moffatt have one site to cover both the UK and Irish markets.

spectac kingmoffat

If you only operate in the UK and Ireland, it’s probably worth having two sites but remember you can’t have duplicate content so the text needs to be separately edited for each site. Also you then have to promote and update both sites over time, with fresh content; if you’re not going to put the resources into working on both sites, realistically you’d be better off sticking to one.

I digress; to get back to the question of the impact of Brexit – at present this will not have an impact on how you optimise your site or set it up for the UK – because the “EU” in itself is not a defined region recognised as a discrete search area by Google. So the “status quo” applies in terms of best advice right now.

Having said that, if you’re one of the relatively few companies promoting your business across Europe with the Top Level Domain “.eu” and the UK is a key market, you may want to consider how you are going to handle your online marketing strategically when Brexit happens in a few years.

Targeting New Markets

However many Irish businesses are now wondering are they too dependent on the UK market. With Brexit, the future is looking a little uncertain and you may want to consider researching overseas opportunities further afield. One useful research tool that businesses overlook is google search traffic stats. We can take any geographical target market (bar China of course where Google is banned), and establish how many people are searching relevant terms. For some reason I find a lot of resistance by Directors of Irish businesses to using these stats as a reliable indication of demand for B2B products and services. Yet the clients who have done digital strategies – where relevant demand is often uncovered quite easily from this type of research – know that this is hugely valuable information which can positively influence plans for future target marketing. Better still, we often (though not always) find that manufacturing competitors in B2B markets overseas are very poorly optimised and the opportunity is there for the taking for Irish businesses to effectively make a land-grab for visibility in Google overseas by investing in Search Engine Optimisation, thereby stealing a march on their competitors.

Irish businesses can drive export enquiries by out-performing their competitors in overseas markets in Google. Many have already. And the depth of digital marketing expertise in Ireland is probably second-to-none, in part thanks to a positive spin-off from having the likes of Google and LinkedIn here in Dublin.

Why not take this opportunity?

Read All About It!

Read Cathy’s Comment on Brexit and find out about the supports Enterprise Ireland is offering here. But most importantly, if you want to talk through your own digital marketing, why not give us a shout! We look forward to your call.