6 of the best digital marketing tools to reach new overseas customers

Fiona Parnell
International Digital Marketing Adviser
3rd May 2018

On Wednesday 25th April, I went to an IoD event (Wednesday @ 6pm) where I had 6 minutes to talk about my role as an International Digital Marketing Adviser, as part of the Department for International Trade’s Export for Growth project. In order to make it a useful few minutes, I decided it would be more interesting to focus on what digital marketing tools I use on a day to day basis to help businesses reach their customers overseas. As there was a ‘6’ theme going on, I also decided I would discuss my 6 favourite (most useful) tools! 

So where does one start in the highly technological world of digital marketing? Well, I started in probably the most obvious place; with Google. Love it or hate it, Google has some amazing tools to help inform businesses about their markets. You will see Google popping up repeatedly in this list! 

Google Trends

I find Google Trends fascinating; a tool that allows the investigation of internet all around the world (minus China of course). This is particularly useful if you have a searchable product or service for helping with market selection and campaign planning, and it is very easy to use. At the simplest level you can type in a variety of keywords and see the trends of searcher intent over time (see below for craft beer vs cider). Then you can start to dig down into different markets and see where the highest interest in the search term might be; by country and even at state/regional level within the country. If I am interested in selling my craft beer into Canada, I can find out that the West coast has the highest levels of search interest. Plus, I know when the highest searches are throughout the year, so I can start to plan my geo-targeted ad campaigns. 

Google Analytics

When I ask the businesses I am working with if they are looking at their Google Analytics regularly, the majority are not or if they do it is very infrequent. There seems to be a real barrier because of all the numbers, graphs and charts, but again I love this tool. Google Analytics is your friend.

Top line information will tell you:

  • Where your traffic is coming from in terms of developing your business overseas - where there is significant traffic, there is a potential market to investigate.
  • What your most popular pages are - is the content on your website resonating with your audience? 
  • Where your traffic is coming from in terms of your digital marketing - if organic search is important, then you might need to focus on your SEO. If Instagram and Facebook are important, then you need to know this to see that your efforts are paying off. You could also consider upping your activity on these platforms and use paid advertising to support your organic social media.
  • How the traffic is flowing through your site - where are people dropping off? Can you improve your content/navigation/calls to action to reduce this?
  • Which devices are important to you - if you are a B2C business, over half of your traffic will probably be coming from a mobile device and the analytics tell you if your mobile version is working effectively. 

Plus you can do all this over time to see how your digital activity has developed. Is it working, what is working best and what do you need to work on? If my clients aren’t comfortable using it I will always do a hands-on session looking at their analytics.  

Google’s Keyword Planner

This is a great tool, accessed via Google AdWords (you will need an account, using the same Gmail address as your Google Analytics). It will help you understand and identify the most relevant keywords and phrases for your business, their search volumes and cost to bid on these words. Excellent for planning your keywords for SEO (search engine optimisation) and PPC (pay per click) campaigns. You can also filter keywords by country, which means you can start to build up a picture of the searcher intent in different regions and plan how much it might cost to reach them.

You don’t have to actually advertise to use this tool but when you are entering a new market and your Google Analytics are telling you that your organic search is a large part of your traffic referrals, I would seriously consider looking at PPC to develop your business in that market, while your organic traffic develops over time.

More information on Keyword Planner 

Custom Audiences/Lookalike Audiences

This is a tool within Facebook advertising (you can also do this in Google). You can upload your email database and create a custom audience using this information and then advertise directly to them. You can also create a custom audience of visitors to your website over the last 3 months. You can then run campaigns targeting this audience. Even more interestingly from an overseas perspective, you can ask Facebook to create a lookalike audience based on the characteristics of your custom audience, but specify the location to your intended export market.

Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn have similar functionality for customer audiences.


If you select a custom audience of ‘website visitors’, you can create retargeting campaigns. It is effective (retargeting ads are 76% more likely to be clicked on than a regular old display ad*), but comes with some health warnings. It can be expensive, so keep an eye on your spend. It can also be annoying to be followed around the internet (particularly if you bought the product that is being advertised to you. In this case you need to create a ‘website visitors that have not purchased audience’), so make sure you limit the number of times the ad is shown to your audience.  

*source: Wordstream


We all know about Amazon, Ebay, Etsy and other popular platforms, but there are many marketplaces around the world that provide a trusted and safe platform to sell your products on. The Department for International Trade has a platform to search 41 of the biggest and most successful global and overseas marketplaces, and has agreed special terms for DIT clients for a large number of them. 

So where do you start? If you know from your Google Trends and Analytics that you are getting significant traffic and there is significant interest in your products in South America for example, you might want to investigate further into the dedicated selling platforms for that region.

Things to consider:

  • The purchasers on these platforms are not your customers, they are the customers of the marketplace, so if you don’t meet all the customer service requirements or you break the rules, you could (and probably will) get kicked off! 
  • They can seem expensive, with platform fees, commission rates and fulfilment fees. 
  • Always factor in budget for advertising your listings. Remember, you are on a platform amongst thousands and thousands of other products. You need to stand out and get noticed. 
  • You will have no selling history and reviews, so you need to develop this as soon as possible. Advertising will help. 

Despite these concerns, many UK companies are successfully using platforms to reach new customers overseas and they are worth considering.

More information:

DIT database of marketplaces

Blog on ‘the complete list of marketplaces’

There are lots of free digital marketing tools to help you find new markets to sell your products and services to, but there are also really clever tools that will help you reach potential customers in these markets as well. You may need to pay for advertising, but by using these tools you can make sure you advertising is as targeted and effective as possible. Final piece of advice, don’t be frightened by the numbers, just dive in and start to investigate. You might be surprised by what you can find, and of course to finish where I started, you can always Google it!

For further information on the Digital Marketing, plase visit the Export for Growth website.

  • View the Export for Growth website

Do you want to join the conversation?

Sign up here
  • Boost your international sales

    Learn the latest tools and platforms in international digital marketing and ecommerce by getting in touch with a digital marketing expert.

    Call our team on 01275 774 456