Marketing to the European culture

Marketing to the European culture

Europe is a continent that has a rich and diverse cultural history. From the music of Austrian composer, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, the paintings of Italian artist Leonardo Da Vinci, or the writing of William Shakespeare in England, or Anne Frank in Germany, every country has contributed to this incredible diversity.

Different countries also have their own cultural personalities. Some of these are easily identified in stereotypes, however flawed - the passionate Italians, the liberal Dutch, or the hardworking and serious Germans.

But how do their rich histories and unique cultures effect how you market to a given culture? 

This user-friendly guide will give you all the top tips for marketing in the European Union. It covers how to do so SEO in different languages and with different cultures in mind, guest posting, and multilingual translation. The guide will help you sell your products and/or services to various European cultures.  It also has dedicated sections on the specific cultures, laws. social media channels used and standard formatting recommendations for:

The magic solution is to research your desired consumers and how they differ from your existing ones. Our cross-continent cultural differences make us great, but they can make SEO tricky because you’ll need to traverse languages, laws, and daily life when marketing to people in other countries.

There may be EU-wide marketing laws, but they are enforced differently in each country. The United Kingdom has also now left the EU and may change its laws soon. That doesn’t even get into country-specific laws. For example, there are laws in Germany restricting promotional offers because of anti-competition rules designed to stop big companies pricing out smaller ones.

With all that in mind, it might be worth outsourcing your campaign to our SEO agency, which has a proven track record for success and decades of experience marketing in Europe.

 

How to market to the European culture

EuropeThe most important thing is to create content that people want to consume and share. Of course, for this to happen, the consumer needs to be able to understand and enjoy what they are looking at.

Europe is not a monolith. Marketing to several countries (and all of the different sub-sects of people within them) with one style of content probably will not work. You’ll make an impossible task for yourself trying to market, which won’t garner the desired response, but you might also violate a marketing law in a country that imposes harsh penalties or alienate potential consumers by using the wrong level of tone or references they don’t get.

That’s why, when doing SEO for Europe, you should focus on the different countries individually. Know the primary language spoken there, how formally they like to be addressed, their units of measurements, and the cultural norms held by that country.

Hopefully, this demonstrates that there’s no way to just translate your content from English to French, or whatever language you’re trying to target. Instead, it has to be rebuilt from the ground up, so that it meets the expectations of the people there.

As an added note, while many Europeans have learnt English as a second language, they generally don’t like being addressed in English in marketing. There are also various languages within countries, with Spain having Galician, Catalan, and Basque as co-official languages in certain regions.

 

Making your website multilingual

After doing the relevant research (there’s a cheat sheet below for six European countries), it’s time to make your site multilingual. As you know, this is not something as simple as translation, so we’ve given you a step-by-step guide to the process.

  • Decide if you want to keep your existing Content Management System

Some modern CMSs allow you to make several websites in different languages using a shared database. The benefits are that this reduces hosting space, simplifies stock control, and updates all site redesigns at once. If you don’t already have this ability, now could be a good time to make the switch.

  • Choose how to structure your site

There are five ways to set the correct country and language for your site, all with advantages and disadvantages, but the best options are either country-coded top-level domains (for example, .it for Italy) because they boost your Google rank in that country, are great for branding, and allow you to translate a keyword-rich domain name for each country. Another option is to use an international domain name (.com or .org for example and use sub-domains.)

Although, it’s also worth allowing the user to alter the language or currency with cookies, in case they live in Spain but German is their first language, for example.

  • Use a native speaker for website translations

As mentioned above, it’s vital to have the content created by a native speaker because potential consumers need to trust a brand before they will purchase from them. A good way to lose trust fast is by making mistakes in copy that the people reading it will easily catch. For example, using the wrong version of there/their/they’re in English. Remember that grammar counts for SEO now, so no forced keywords in pieces of content (i.e. “Spain hotels”); although it’s okay to use them in URLs and metatag titles.

When doing an SEO translation the best strategy is to do keyword research first and put together a master spreadsheet that matches up important keywords in the website's original language (probably English if you're reading this in English), and match these up with relevant keywords in the language to be translated into.  This way you can match high volume keywords in the new language, ensuring you're using optimised keywords that will generate traffic.

 

Multilingual link building

Now that you have a multilingual website and know how to do marketing in the European Union, it’s time to do some multilingual link building.

Why is this important? Well, because this is the top factor when it comes deciding your Google rank. So if your French site has plenty of links from German-language sites, it will rank higher in Germany than in France, which is unlikely to help your business grow.

What is multilingual link building?

It’s a process of introducing your business to potential customers and establishing yourself as an expert through various forms of media, from guest posting to infographics to social media. Here, someone reads a piece of media related to the field that you operate in and has a link to your site.

So, if you owned a BnB in the Lake District, the blog post could focus on luxury travel in England or best spots to get back to nature in the UK or places that inspired Taylor Swift songs, depending on the audience you want to attract.

How to do it:

  • Create something unique that people will want to share
  • Have a native speaker translate content for you (or better yet, create it themselves)
  • Put quality first
  • Submit content to sites that already perform well off your keywords and accept free guest posts

Of course, for this campaign to work, your URLs must be structured properly. First, make sure that your multilingual site is hosted in a separate sub-folder (i.e. example.com/sp for Spanish or example.com /.uk for English) or, better yet, a separate domain (i.e. example.fr for French).

When choosing a separate domain name, you do have the chance to use language-specific keywords and create a new home page, which can be better for your European SEO.

 

SEO for Western Europe

As mentioned above, research is key when it comes to European SEO. In this section, we’re going to give you some basic knowledge about six of the biggest markets on the continent, including population, internet usage (and social media sites to use), formality in written marketing language, and some unique laws that could affect what is distributed.

For each country, internet usage statistics are taken from Statistica and population statistics are taken from Worldometers unless otherwise mentioned.

France

France SEO

Total population: 65,293,375
Language spoken: French

 

Internet Usage Statistics

As of July 2020, 50.74 million people in France use the internet at least once a month. This is expected to rise to 53.92 million by 2025.

There are currently 47.18 million smartphone users in France, but this is set to rise to 49.78 million by 2025. Regarding how time is spent on mobile devices, 90% of people primarily use apps, while 40% use a mobile device for online purchases.

 

Most popular social media sites

The three most popular social media sites in France, as of late 2019, were YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram, with 80%, 76%, and 47% respectively of French internet users visiting the sites on a regular basis. However, it’s important to note that most YouTube visitors aren’t interacting with non-entertainment brands on there and if you don’t make video content, then the platform won’t work for you.

The fourth most popular social media site is Snapchat with 35% of internet users visiting regularly, but this has a much younger demographic and might not be ideal for your marketing strategy.

Again, research on your potential customers and what content you want to produce is key.

 

Formality

French customers prefer formal but friendly communication, using the formal “vous” unless appealing to teens or children, in which case “tu” is fine. Marketing campaigns can be more playful, but never when addressing customers individually.

 

Unique Marketing Laws

  • All marketing material must be translated into French, rather than just the native language of the business (i.e. English).

Country

Currency

Measurements

Date**

Time**

France

9,99 €

Metric

31/12/1999
Except:

1999-12-29 for Breton, Basque, and Interlingua

23:59 or 
23 h 59

Germany

German marketing

Total population: 83,820,834
Language spoken: German

 

Internet Usage Statistics

Some 86% of Germans used the internet at least once a month as of 2019, while 73.18 million people used a smartphone as of 2020; something expected to rise to 75.6 million in 2024.

 

Most popular social media sites

As of 2019, the most popular social media platforms in Germany were WhatsApp, YouTube, and Facebook, with 79%, 77%, and 64% of respondents respectively saying they used the sites. However, people don’t routinely connect with brands on either of the top two platforms. For digital marketing purposes, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter are the most popular sites.

 

Formality

Most products and marketing materials are presented in an informal way, sometimes verging on playful. However, financial and legal products and services require a more formal tone.

 

Unique Marketing Laws

  • There are restrictions on promotions, like Buy One Get One Free,  because of anti-corruption laws

Country

Currency

Measurements

Date**

Time**

Germany

9,99 €

Metric
Occasionally pounds (lbs) are used for weight

31.12.1999

23:59 or 
23.59

The Netherlands

Netherlands culture

Total population: 17,140,086
Language spoken: Dutch

 

Internet Usage Statistics

A huge 94.6% of Dutch people (16.3 million) used the internet at least once a month as of 2020, with this expected to rise to 97.5% (17.1 million) by 2025.

 

Most popular social media sites

The biggest social media platforms in the Netherlands are Whatsapp (12 million users), Facebook (10 million), and Instagram (5.6 million users), with the first two being more popular with Millennials and people aged 18-21 preferring Instagram and Snapchat.

 

Formality

The level of formality to adopt depends on your audience, but generally if addressing an older audience or speaking on a serious topic, it’s best to use to the term of address “u”. For younger audiences, the informal “je” is preferred.

 

Unique Marketing Info

Most Dutch professionals will speak English so for B2B it can be acceptable to use an English brochure as long as the client knows it’s not a Dutch company they’re dealing with. For SEO and B2C it’s preferable to translate content into Dutch.

Country

Currency

Measurements

Date**

Time**

The Netherlands

€ 9,99

Metric

31/12/1999

23.59 uur or 
23:59

Spain

Spain

Total population: 46,757,263
Language spoken: Spanish

 

Internet Usage Statistics

As of December 2018, there were 42,961,230 internet users in Spain, which is 92.5% of the population.

 

Most popular social media sites

Local social media site Tuenti has the highest number of users, but Facebook and Twitter are the most popular sites.

 

Formality

Most Spanish marketing is informal and friendly, using the “tu” style of address unless it is about a financial/legal product or service.

Country

Currency

Measurements

Date**

Time**

Spain

9,99 €

Metric

31/12/1999 Except the Basque region: 1999/12/31

23:59 or 
23.59

Italy

Italy culture

Total population: 60,449,660
Language spoken: Italian

 

Internet Usage Statistics

In Italy, 70.4% of the population (or 43.49 million people) used the internet at least once a month in 2019, with this percentage rising in the north of the country and metropolitan areas. It’s predicted that this will increase to 47.01 million people by 2025.

 

Most popular social media sites

Facebook is the most popular social media site in Italy, with 90.4% of internet users logging on, while YouTube in second place with 57.8% and Instagram coming third with 46.1% of users.

 

Formality

Most marketing in Italy is presented informally unless it’s a financial or legal product/service.

Country

Currency

Measurements

Date**

Time**

Italy

9,99 €

Metric

31/12/1999

23:59 or 
23.59

United Kingdom

UK SEO company

Total population: 67,935,254
Language spoken: English

 

Internet Usage Statistics

There are roughly 62.1 million internet users in the UK as of 2020, with 46.6 million logging on daily. The internet user penetration rate there is 95.53%, while the number of people accessing the internet on a mobile device is around 61.3 million (90.3%).

 

Most popular social media sites

Roughly 66% of the population uses social media, which is above the global average, with women slightly more likely than men to have accounts (78% vs. 73%). The three most popular social media platforms are Facebook (55%), Instagram (46%), and Twitter (42%), which all lend themselves easily to digital marketing.

 

Formality

Most of the UK’s marketing content will be presented informally unless it’s a serious product or service.

 

Unique Marketing Laws

  • Prices must be displayed accurately, including VAT and subscription costs.

 

Standard Formats

Country

Currency

Measurements

Date**

Time**

UK

£9.99

Metric officially*

There are several exceptions (see below)

31/12/1999

23:59 or 
11.59 pm

 

**In most instances, you can leave off the initial zero in date, month, or hour, so 09:15 on 04/09/2020 becomes 9.15 on 4/9/2020.*Imperial measurements are used for speed limits, journey distances, glasses of beer/cider, bottles of milk, and body measurements. The history of metric measurements in Britain is a little complicated, but it was a requirement upon joining the European Economic Community (EEC). With the UK leaving the EU, the country may revert to imperial measurements. 

 

The formatting rules shown above are the official ones for each country, however it does not mean that everyone will follow them!

 

Our SEO services in Europe

If you want to improve your SEO strategy, but don’t have the time or experience to do it justice yourself, then why not hire a European digital marketing agency with a proven track record of success for small to medium enterprises?

We offer a range of services to improve your international SEO, with all of our image-rich content placed on relevant high authority blogs, that get a lot of traffic, using our relationships with various bloggers and sites. This gets more people to your site, sharing your content, and buying from you.

Here’s what we can offer you:

Website Translation

We offer translations between English, French, German, Dutch, Italian and Spanish, with fluent, native speakers educated to degree level or higher. We can either work with your own web developer, or if you have a site in Drupal or WordPress, complete the translation ourselves, including all the fiddly bits. We also offer copywriting to expand and develop your site in each language.

SEO Audits

We offer multilingual SEO audits with an expert review of the fine details of your site. The output of this will be a detailed document with precise recommendations on how to improve your site to rank better in search engines and improve your conversion. We can also ask native speakers to review your site and provide feedback.

High Authority Guest Blogs

Original articles created by native speakers with your site, field, and keywords shaping the content. These link back to your site to boost your SEO and win you referral traffic. We regularly work with webmasters throughout Europe who will post these guest blogs for you.

Infographics

These combine text and data to educate readers on a subject in your field, which will have your company’s branding on it to direct them to you.

Social Media Marketing

Sometimes it’s hard enough to run your own social accounts, let alone a business one (or several in different languages). That’s why we can run your company’s social media profiles, sharing images, content, and posts that engage potential customers.

Our European SEO agency can deliver real results that aren’t just a flash in the pan, saving you time, effort, and money.