As a company you reached the point where you are king of the hill in a region or vertical industry, so the next step is start preparing for an expansion in a new market where the product or service can deliver value.

As you start researching market expansion tactics, a few points immediately come across as we have already seen in our previous article: Market analysis, checking entry barriers, reviewing local competition, and identifying potential partners are just a few.

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There are a few options to do this: contract external consultants to do market research, hire a new go to market team, or involve your management team and a few key employees in the process. Many companies choose involving their management team, which is a good way to ensure you maintain a strategy consistency, however you will soon understand that the effort involved may keep them away from delivering and executing on the current business road map.

Valuable information is available all around the web on how to open a new market, but we found it too generic. We have been working with a few clients on developing and researching new markets through online tactics, so it was natural to look for a simpler way that can deliver the same results with a smaller team of people and through our core expertise: inbound marketing. Our clients are usually looking for a cost effective way to collect strong data points from multiple potential target markets as well as customer insights, which are highly valued.

We decided to use our marketing experience to analyze new markets.

Inbound Marketing For Market Evaluation & Research

Inbound is usually used to reach an audience, educate them on your solution, convert them into leads and clients, and maintain them as happy and loyal. Today, it is a growing practice for reaching customers online. But we believe it is worth looking at this methodology for market evaluation as well.

When using this approach for opening a new market, the focus should be more on attract and convert. In this stage your goal is not to sell, nor is it to maintain loyal customer base. The purpose is to see which of your target markets are looking to solve the problem you developed a solution for, and what are they interested in.

Implementing an inbound strategy can help shape the buyer profile and narrow down the market by analyzing the interest and engagement of the visitors. Conversion should also be seen different from a regular sales cycle. In this stage, conversion can be considered when potential customers engage with your content and show interest. The more information you can get from these prospects, the better you understand the new market. As an example, converting visits into feedback could be more important than converting into sales, as it will offer insights on better and more effective marketing messages and strategies.

Second, you can use this same approach to evaluate the interest and feedback from potential re-sellers, distributors, or partners.
Using inbound marketing to diving into a new market might not be the most obvious choice, but it can deliver even greater results in building up a partner and distribution channel for example, when compared to the traditional fairs or trade missions approach.

Preparing The Research And Evaluation

  1. Buyer Personas

Look at current clients and create a buyer persona if you do not already have one. Once that is in place, research the new market for potential differences and update the persona accordingly. Check if the user profile has the same characteristics in your new market, e.g. do they belong to the same age group? Is their income level higher or lower?

  1. Local vs. global online distribution platforms

It is important in inbound marketing to have a good distribution channel for your message. Review the preferences of the local buyers on social & professional networking platforms. Ask yourself: Are the new buyers using the same channels as the ones I am currently selling to? Is there a specific / localized platform that works best? For example, LinkedIn is good for business users, but Xing may be a better alternative for some industries in the German markets. Or did you know that architects have 5 different options of social networks for architects?

  1. Define measurements and segmentation from the start

Segmenting the users and their behavior from day one is a sensitive thing to do, as it will provide insights into their behavior. You might be used that buyers go to your homepage, then check your features or services, then pricing, and last hit the contact button. You might find it strange then that no one contacts you when you launch a local version. But that does not necessarily mean they are not interested, but could be in fact that contact forms do not work well for the culture, and a phone number, or a personal email from the company is much more trustworthy in the new culture.

  1. Setup goals on traffic, leads, etc.

Make a plan and set a goal for your new market. Identify the size of your market, look for data on how many potential users are online, check if you find how many use internet for purchasing. Then decide how long will you run the campaign, and how many users are enough to validate your assumptions. Provide relevant content, (white papers, case studies, blog posts) and analyze if your initial assessment is correct.

  1. Gather the right data

Translating an old case study might help, but remember that not everyone is interested in the global market or what happens across the globe. Make sure the references, statistical information, and key data is being localized as well, to provide comparison that users relate to. When it comes to blog posts, make sure that show case local data and information. Research what is the local information that they might be interested in, and start testing ideas, titles, value propositions to see which message conveys more.

Applying Inbound for evaluating the market

Using marketing techniques to evaluate a new market, and prepare your market expansion, should start as a simple action list, that develops into a complex strategy over time.