local and global signs

Your goal is international growth. Which type of digital agency is right for you?

If you’re looking to expand your business into international markets, you might be looking for a digital agency to help you achieve that. But what type of agency is right for you? Let’s explore the options.


First, there’s a difference between a UK-focused agency and an international agency

You might have a UK-focused agency already in place. They might be doing a great job of running your UK campaigns and now, perhaps you want them to help you expand internationally. In fact, you’re far better off working with a specialist agency whose model and area of expertise is focused on international expansion, with a track record of helping UK businesses expand into new markets. This is for two reasons:

1. How consumers understand and search for your product or service will vary across cultures. A UK-focused digital agency might simply translate your English keyword list and optimise around that. However, consumers in your target markets might search for your product or service using completely different words and phrases. An internationally-focused agency will take the time to understand local audience intent and subtle cultural distinctions and optimise your website and campaigns accordingly.

2. The search landscape varies around the world. An internationally-focussed agency will know which platforms to target in each market, and how to optimise for those platforms.

A specialist international agency will bring an international mindset to your online campaigns, through their understanding of the cultural, linguistic, and digital nuances of your target markets. Without this international mindset, it’s easy to default to a UK or US-centric mentality – which may mean you fail to capitalise on the biggest international opportunities or make costly mistakes.


But what kind of international agency is right for your business?

Having decided that an internationally-focused agency is right for your business, the next decision is what type of agency (or agencies) to choose. Do you go for:

  • An international agency located in the UK, with a central office which manages a team of experts based in-market around the world. Typically, as a client, you deal directly with the UK HQ, and they manage international resources on your behalf.
  • Or, individual agencies based in each of your target markets. For example, a French agency for France, a German agency for Germany, and so on.

Oban is based on the first model. We have a central team based in Brighton, UK with an international network of Local In-Market Experts – who we call LIMEs – made up 450+ digital specialists in 80+ countries around the world. We put together bespoke international teams based on our clients’ requirements, with all campaigns project managed and quality assured by our central team based in the UK. Typically, our clients deal with their UK-based account team as a central point of contact.

This model offers you advantages over dealing with multiple different agencies or network offices based in each of your target markets, including:


Language and cultural differences
Most overseas agencies who are offering their services to UK companies will communicate in English, but conveying the nuances of your company’s strategy and objectives may be more challenging in a market where there are linguistic and cultural differences to consider.


By using a collection of agencies based around the world, you introduce scope for more campaign and brand variation. While localising for each market is the key to the success, you don’t want to lose sight of brand consistency or risk different markets going off in completely different strategic directions. By using one agency based in the UK, with a network of overseas experts, you are more likely to generate campaigns that retain brand and strategic consistency, while being tailored appropriately to each market.


Reduced overhead
By using a centralised agency in the UK, you’re only paying for one account team of client partners, account executives, and project managers. If you use multiple agencies in different markets, you will probably rack up account management fees for each separate agency. Using a centralised team eliminates account management duplication and saves you money.


Time differences
Depending on where your overseas agencies are based, there may be a time difference. Obviously, the greater the distance from the UK, the bigger the time difference. If you need to get hold of your team urgently, this might create headaches.


Face-to-face meetings
Post-pandemic, we’re all used to working remotely and using video conferencing tools like Zoom. But it’s still useful to be able to meet your team face to face occasionally and work collaboratively together. It’s easier to meet in person when you’re based in the same country.


The best of both worlds

Using a digital marketing agency based in the UK which specialises in international growth and has access to an extensive network of in-market talent in diverse countries offers the best of both worlds. This model combines the control and economies of scale of centralised marketing with the market knowledge and responsiveness of a localised approach.

. . .

Looking to grow your business internationally? Oban can help. Get in touch to find out how.

Oban International is the digital marketing agency specialising in international expansion.
Our LIME (Local In-Market Expert) Network provides up to date cultural input and insights from over 80 markets around the world, helping clients realise the best marketing opportunities and avoid the costliest mistakes.

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