Expats love the Internet and especially social media – it’s how they communicate with their loved ones at home, or connect with like-minded people who speak the same language and who face the same challenges abroad.

When expats first arrive abroad they usually don’t have any brand loyalties. Either they buy the first product they see, ask colleagues for recommendations, or they research options online. This means online marketing, in particular content marketing, is an essential way of reaching expats.

Here is our advice for creating engaging content for your expat blog or website.

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A few decades ago, the massive majority of countries had a pretty limited amount of non-nationals resident. Out of those, many were long-term residents, so for the purposes of marketing were ‘assimilated’ and homogenous with the rest of the population. With the exception of very specific products, such as long-distance calling or flights, foreign residents were treated the same by marketeers; sliced and diced by age, gender, income, interests and other very standard demographics. This is no longer a wise strategy. Why?

Today, we have entered a period of hyper-mobility, especially in Europe. The EU’s Erasmus programme started in 1987 with 3,244 students going between 11 countries. In 2011-12, more than 250,000 students plus more than 46,000 staff took part in exchanges between 33 countries. Studies show that many of these students, in addition to many other young professionals, are then country-hopping in search of interesting opportunities and new experiences. When you add in legal immigration from the rest-of-the-world based on visa schemes and people living and working without official leave to stay, the numbers grow. There is also the more recent phenomenon of investor-based visas: €143k ‘invested’ will get you residency in Latvia, €300k for Cyprus and more countries are jumping on the bandwagon. These are popular with oligarchs and rich residents of unstable or repressive places – it has been reported over 1,000 Chinese nationals got Schengen residence permits in the last year through the Cyprus scheme. The rest of the world is also a very mobile place as there is a strong trend towards increased personal mobility, especially among the under-45s.

Why does this matter?

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Working out the effectiveness of marketing activity is a tough challenge. The increase in the number of devices a user might have over the last few years has made this even harder.

In the past, a user may have used a PC at work and at home. In many cases, people might do their research or encounter potential providers at work and then complete an enquiry or purchase at home. Today, many individuals at least have a smartphone, if not also a tablet or another device they use. Tracking the multiple touch-points of a campaign and arriving at any conclusions about attribution is a hard problem.

Google are doing a lot of work in this area and have just announced ‘Estimated Total Conversions‘ – which will help marketers running AdWords on Search to get benchmarked estimated conversions for their campaigns. It looks like they are working to be able to feed this data back into the bidding system for AdWords in the future. This is positive development for campaign evaluation and will provide a useful set of data-points for when it comes to overall campaign evaluations. Good further comment on this development here.

Facebook Forums
Facebook vs. forums for expat marketers.

Having thrown themselves into a new situation, expats are naturally on the lookout for information which can aid them in their foreign life. This demand helps to fuel strong expat communities within which information is shared and people are generally keen to help each other.

Starting afresh in new surroundings takes away opportunities for brand loyalty, which means as a marketer, if you manage to get one expat onside you’ve got the potential to get many more as a direct result. Because of this, expat communities provide a unique opportunity for expat marketers.

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Multilingual SEO
Multilingual SEO can drive new clients to your expat website.

When establishing a website directed at expats, your target market won’t always be English speaking or even monolingual. In the current Internet age it is easy to forget that only 56% of global website content is in English. By effectively utilising multilingual search engine optimisation (SEO), your website can achieve greater visibility, thus driving more traffic to your site.

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dameJOB - trabajo en Alemania
‘The situation in Spain has changed and it is difficult for them to look to the future and plan what to do.’

As unemployment levels in Spain are nearing 25% while Germany desperately needs to fill worker shortages, timing couldn’t be better for recruiting company dameJOB to fill this gap.

Expat Marketing spoke to Marta Epelde, a Spanish expat living in Munich who has recently set up an online recruiting company. The company acts as a go between, linking the demand from the job-seeking unemployed Spanish with the German demand for employees.

How did dameJOB begin?

I decided about six months ago with my husband to start the company dameJOB. Later we met with another German/Spanish mixed couple who had the same goal in mind of starting up this type of company. We have helped friends and relatives in the past to come over to Germany, therefore we decided to “officially” help Spanish people by creating dameJOB and providing them with the information and the help they need to find a job in Germany.

I am a project manager for an online marketing company and so I had the knowledge to start up this type of company with my husband.  We had nothing to lose as we all have a lot of experience in online marketing and the Spanish and German job market.

In fact, our initials spell out dame, meaning give me (jobs) in Spanish.

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property real estate SEO
Independent property agents need to be on top of SEO to beat off competition in search results.

According to data from Google and the National Association of Realtors (NAR), housing searches on Google.com grew 253% in the last four years. NAR reports 90% of home-buyers used the Internet to search for their next property.

It wouldn’t be surprising to find the majority of soon-to-be expats make similar property searches for their new home abroad. Making your real estate site stand out among the hundreds on the web can be a challenge, one that major estate agents can spend millions solving. The question is, is it worth all the effort, not to mention the money?

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Felix Baumgartner
More than 8 million people watched Baumgartner’s descent to Earth. This is just the latest of Red Bull’s famous campaigns.

Viral marketing offers many advantages to companies who have a clear objective and simple product, by using online methods to target expats.

Many expats around the world are known as ‘netizens,’ or citizens of the Internet, an ever growing community of regular Internet users.

Two of the most notable recent examples of viral marketing are that of Red Bull and the Stratosphere stunt, involving millions of dollars, NASA and a live video feed; and the Christmas advertising campaign from John Lewis, who are well known amongst expats, due to their ability to deliver their products to over 30 countries worldwide.

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The City Hospital caters to Western expats in Dubai.

In a community where topics such as self breast exams are taboo, marketing healthcare to expat women can prove to be quite a challenge. Yet because of her passion and experience, long term expat, Cynthia Beermann, has become very successful at it.

Cynthia Beermann started working with The City Hospital in Dubai as a marketing communications specialist during the hospital’s launch four years ago. Her job title includes a number of things, she said, but in general, can be summed up by saying she works with the public.

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advertising expats christmas
Targeting expats at Christmas time can be tricky, here two British retailers have shared their tactics with us.

Companies who are targeting an international, expatriate market this Christmas will be facing additional challenges attracting and capturing their audience. Of course, the normal problems apply – how to reach your audience or which media to use. But at Christmas, you find increased competition and a relatively shorter time period to capture your target group.

For most marketers, Christmas planning gets underway in September/October, or sometimes even earlier. John Lewis, a major British department store, has already launched its online Christmas shop, which allows expats to buy their gifts and decorations at an early stage.

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