Marketing in Thailand – Jaime González

Jaime González has been working in Thailand for more than two years. He came to this country with the idea of ​​spending a few sabbatical months after working six years as a Project Manager for Pixmania in Paris. This expert in digital marketing ended up falling in love with the Asian country, where he has established his residence and current workplace. We take advantage of Jaime’s experience to ask him about all the peculiarities that characterize the Thai market.

From how digital marketing works in the country to what we have to take into account to expand our business in Thailand. We talk about cultural differences and also about the formulas that work best in our titles and meta descriptions. On the other hand, Jaime also shares with us his knowledge of international marketing. Reflect on the importance of language, whether we should bet or not on native agencies in each area where we want to expand ourselves or on the power of link building in international brand strategies.

How did you end up working as an ecommerce manager in Thailand?

Before coming here I spent more than 6 years working as a Project Manager for Pixmania in Paris. I loved the city, I made very good friends and I think that I learned a lot from the job, but I had wanted to change everything for some time and in 2016 I decided to it. At first I came here with the idea of spending a few sabbatical months before resuming a job, but Thailand is a country that engages. The climate, the culture, the food, the quality of life and the finding of my current job position made these few months more than 2 years.

 

How does digital marketing work in Thailand?

Thailand is the world first country in use of mobile phones. It is normal for digital marketing to focus on them. To give just one example, here are many companies that use Instagram + Line as one of the main ways to attract customers, communicate with them and build loyalty.

On the one hand, Instagram is great as an online showroom, it’s free and on top of that it acts as a virtual word of mouth. On the other hand, Line is a kind of Asian WhatsApp that, in addition to serving to communicate with your customers, has many more features such as a wall to publish your products or stories, a payment system, complementary apps, configurable bots and even several APIs for Business. It is a tandem that works very well and with which I have seen selling from clothes or cosmetics to luxury apartments.

 

What do we have to take into account if we want to expand our business in Thailand?

The Thai market is very competitive. Bangkok is full of shopping malls and shopping is one of their favorite pastimes, but it is not easy to compete with the prices offered here. In general, the western products that are usually seen are products related to luxury, high quality or gourmet products. In any case, whatever the kind of business, I would recommend starting by consulting the ICEX website. There you can find a lot of information about the country, its particularities and business opportunities and I believe that they have an advisory service for SMEs that want to expand.

 

What are the peculiarities of SEO for international ecommerce?

Its complexity. Position is already dificult and, when you have to do it in a place where you are not familiar with the language, things get complicated. Sometimes I have seen how a single and simple landing page optimized for SEO in another language was positioned well and relatively fast, but it iis not usual. The normal thing is that SEO has to be cooked using low heat and with good and varied ingredients. Before investing resources in SEO for a new country, I always dedicate the time it takes to identify markets with real potential and to test them with Adwords campaigns.

 

What should we know about Thai culture to access their markets?

Thai culture usually gets along well with ours, but it’s quite different. If we are going to deal with Thais, to inform us about these differences beforehand is not a waste of time. You have to understand things like that here, despite how friendly they may seem first, hierarchies are very marked. This makes the courtesy and respect remain very important, not as in Spain where the treatment is usually more informal.

There are also some important concepts to assimilate, such as “losing your face”, which is a particular way that Asians have to understand honor and which implies, among other things, that direct confrontation is not well seen, much less in public. The refusal or open discussion about something, as we Westerners usually do, is frowned upon and it is easy for it to cause some tension in the environment. One of the problems of this is that sometimes is inevitable to have to face positions and we will have to try to do it tactfully.

“The Thai market is very competitive. Bangkok is full of shopping malls and shopping is one of their favorite pastimes, but it is not easy to compete with the prices offered here. In general, the western products that are usually seen are products related to luxury, high quality or gourmet products”.Jaime González

What kind of formulas usually work best in our titles and meta descriptions?

The page titles have to give an accurate and useful description of the page using few words. Search engines pay more attention to the words we put at the beginning of the title and it is the first thing that potential clients will see; that’s why I usually use the most important keywords at the beginning of the title and our brand at the end. Meta-descriptions do not directly influence Google’s algorithms, but they do influence the CTR.

To write them I try to put myself in the mind of the possible client and in 3 or 4 short sentences I will try to answer those 3 or 4 things that are important for him and that could convince him to click on my link instead of on others. Finally, whenever it makes sense, I will try to include figures, such as the number of products, percentages or prices. It is easy to stand out among so many words and get the CTR to increase a little.

 

Would you recommend us to bet on a blog to support our brand? How should we approach it?

Of course! You know that before choosing you I was investigating many other agencies and I think almost all of them had a blog. In addition to positioning you use it  to show your point of view on issues of SEO and Digital Marketing.

On how to approach it, personally, I find blogs that speak not only of generalities but also of practical cases or real marketing experiments very useful. I understand that you need more time for this type of articles but, if you publish some of them from time to time, I promise to be there to follow you.

 

Is the language important to expand our business internationally? What recommendations can you give us in this regard?

The importance depends of each country and sector. When it comes to attracting B2B clients, there are countries where is common to choose English than the local language, such as the Netherlands, for example, and others where most of our new clients have come to us through advertisements and pages with content in the local language, such as Spain or France.

I think it’s when it comes to keeping those clients where the language is even more important. In my experience I have seen how a good customer service or a sales team in the buyer’s language transmits confidence, facilitates their loyalty and has a positive impact on sales. As a tip, if we are just testing a new market and we need to translate campaigns or content but we do not have a budget for a specialized agency, we can find very competent remote workers on freelancers platforms like Upwork. For now it has given me very good results and the prices tend to be very competitive.

Do you recommend us to bet on marketing agencies of each country in which we want to position ourselves or opt for an international marketing agency?

I work with both. I like to have someone I trust first, that I already know  and that I do not have to explain again about our business or the website. It’s what I was looking for when I started working with you and I think we’ve done very well. It gives a lot of peace to have someone to whom we can ask any questions or start any new project that emerges almost immediately. From time to time I also consult agencies from other countries, but usually it is more to help us optimize or prepare PPC campaigns than for SEO.

 

What do you think of linkbuilding for brand strategies at an international level?

Linkbuilding is probably the most important of those ingredients that I told you  when we were talking about preparing our international SEO strategy. When it comes to doing it, international or not, we must take into account the relevance and authority of the site that links us. The authority is the weight of that web, how popular it is on the internet, and the greater the better for us. Relevance measures how is the web related to ours. For example, if we sell electric bicycles it will be more relevant to link an online cycling magazine than an architecture one. And if we want to sell such bikes in France or in Italy, obviously, we will be interested in getting links that are oriented or based in those countries.

The ideal is that our content is so valuable that these links reach us naturally, but we can also order the creation of links to a specialized agency or do it by ourselves. If we decide to do it, we can start by using the national search engine of that country (connecting through a proxy) and try to find related pages, forums to comment, blogs to contact, directories to list us, etc. It may seem quite heavy but the results are going to be worth it.

 

In the same way, what do you think about the collaborations with influencers to promote the products of our e-commerce?

Influencer Marketing has a lot of potential, it is growing and there are more and more options. I do not think it’s just for and for the younger audience. There are influencers in many social media and for almost all types of topics, although it is not always easy to find them. To do so we can search on Google, directly on social networks or through platforms such as Famebit. When we have identified those that have to do with our niche, we will have to study them and contact them one by one.

I always try to adapt my message a bit to the personality of each one and, personally, I prefer to avoid the influencers-mercenaries and connect only with those who I think will really give a more or less founded and sincere opinion. The opposite I think is not good for the company, or for our customers and I also think it’s wrong to promote a practice that in the long run may end up hurting us all as Internet users.