Online marketing in Germany: common misconceptions that can mean your efforts get you nowhere
Picture this: you’ve decided to expand your solopreneur business beyond your own country’s borders. And you’ve opted for Germany to start your exciting international business journey, because you know it’s one of the most promising countries to choose from when going global.
You know you have to speak the language of your new customers when you want to sell to them and have even set up your website in German to provide a convenient shopping experience. Great.
But for some reason, you don’t seem to really be making an impression on your German audience. Conversions and sales are much lower than you expected. And you start to wonder: Why don’t Germans like my products?
You might have fallen into the trap of sticking to your usual online marketing strategy that was designed for a completely different region.
In this article I’ll share three common misconceptions about marketing your products to Germany online – and what to do instead.
You think your German customer is just like your domestic customer, just in another language
One of the most common mistakes made when starting to market products internationally is that people stay in their domestic market mindset. They simply assume that customers from another country are just like them, but speak another language. While the language part is of course true, there’s more to it than just that.
You simply can’t compare your German customers to your English-speaking domestic ones, whether you’re selling from the UK, the US, Australia, or another English-speaking country.
They’ve grown up in a completely different cultural context and lead different lives, have different habits and preferences. And if you’re using the exact same online marketing strategies for them as you are for your domestic customers, chances are those strategies will miss the mark, which in the end can become rather frustrating for you.
So, as a solopreneur business trying to market your products online to Germans, your first job is to detach yourself from the idea that your new German customers are just like your domestic ones. You need to work towards an open mind that acknowledges and even embraces the fact that they’re different.
Invest some time into learning more about the culture, lifestyle, habits and preferences of your German customer to get a feel for them. This will mean you’re so much better prepared for your international business journey and will stop you getting frustrated and throwing in the towel altogether.
To give you a head start, check out this blog article full of super useful resources to learn more about your German customer.
You think you only have to translate your copy and content into German to reach your German customers
Another misconception when marketing products to Germany is that you can just translate your copy and content word for word into German without any adaptations.
Again, we have to keep in mind that our new customers are different and so have different needs and expectations when browsing our website or consuming our content.
So, simply translating the words you wrote with your domestic customers in mind won’t get you very far.
But what exactly are those needs and expectations? Well, for example:
- The images and colours you’re using might elicit different emotions in your German customer compared to your domestic customer.
- Germans might prefer different payment options to the ones you offer on your website.
- Your German customers might need different or additional information to convince them to buy your product (we like facts and figures, for example).
- Since Germans are very risk-averse, they might need more reassuring elements and information on your website (like the ssl padlock symbol in front of your url).
- Your overall communication style might be too salesy and aggressive for Germans, who prefer a more tuned-down and neutral way of communicating, especially in marketing.
- Translating product reviews written by your domestic customers into German might be counterproductive, since both customer groups focus on different things when buying.
So, try to find out about the preferences of your German customers when shopping online and browsing a website and tweak your online presence accordingly.
Tip: Check out this article in which I share six insider tips on how to sell to Germans more easily.
You think you can use the same marketing channels and tactics
Another misconception when marketing products to Germany is assuming you can use the same online marketing channels and tactics as you do for your domestic market.
Keep in mind that user numbers for different online marketing channels and online marketing trends can differ from country to country.
Instead of using the exact same marketing channels for your German audience, find out first if those marketing channels are as popular with Germans as they are with your domestic British, American or Australian customer.
Also, don’t simply copy your online marketing tactics and campaigns over to your German market. While a social media competition with discount coupons for the 4th of July might massively drive sales in your domestic American market, creating an equivalent for the German national holiday will probably make Germans raise their eyebrows (the German national holiday is usually not celebrated).
Instead, try to find out which occasions or seasons specific to Germany are most suitable for your special offers – and create your marketing strategy around that.
The same goes for newsletters, blogs, YouTube videos and other kinds of online marketing channels. Before implementing them into your online marketing strategy, try to find user statistics for them and identify preferences to make sure you’re on the right track.
Stepping into the German market to grow your solopreneur business can unlock massive potential.
But simply assuming that you can use the same strategies and elements as you do for your domestic market for your German online marketing can mean you take the wrong path and get absolutely nowhere.
Your German customers speak a different language. But they also have a different cultural background and so have different online shopping preferences and expectations. And user numbers and preferences for online channels might well be different.
The key to success here is to embrace the fact that your German customer is different, learn about those differences and use them to your advantage when marketing your products online.