Setting-up and managing a lead generation campaign on an international scale can appear daunting at first. However, with careful forward planning and market insight (rather than just marketing instinct!), it need not be more taxing than a national-based campaign. The most significant areas to consider which impact on the success of your campaign are discussed below.


Advertising using multiple foreign languages is an obvious starting point. When communicating marketing messages in native tongues, avoid attempting to slavishly follow direct translations, otherwise the advert can appear stilted and unnatural.


Don’t be tempted to adopt standard advertising messaging across same language territories without taking cultural attitudes into account.  Be especially careful using humour or over familiarity in advertising, if you do not have expert local knowledge. From personal experience when recruiting panellists across Europe for a global market researcher in which  the panel was aimed at younger men using gadget prizes are an incentive to join – so far, so good. However, the brand name itself, imagery and wording were far too blatant to be considered a cool brand by the UK target audience. This translated into below par conversions in comparison with similar market research brands which were able to convey more positive brand associations.

In addition, local privacy laws must be contrasted with your existing privacy policy to ensure your data collection programme is compliant across territories. Certain sectors such as financial services are potential minefields where both consumer attitudes to terminology and additional legal requirements are taken into account.

Maturity of Lead Generation Markets

In Europe alone, some counties are streets ahead in terms of lead generation adoption and market maturity. The UK is the most mature market closely followed by Germany then France, Holland and Spain, with Poland and other eastern bloc countries still developing. This will directly affect the breadth of lead generation channels at your disposal. In the most developed countries, marketers are increasingly turning to newer channels such as premium display, mobile, social and video for performance campaigns, whereas in less mature countries there is more traction to be gained from affiliate and email channels. These discrepancies in the types of lead generation inventory available will force you to adopt a country-specific channel plan, rather than a blanket market strategy. For example, in contrast to the UK, spend on telemarketing lead generation in Germany does not feature highly, representing only c.6% of the total spend in Europe versus an overall c.11% share of European spend. This is illustrated in the chart to the left.


The platform you use must be flexible enough to handle the demands of an international campaign providing the required scale and customisation for optimum results. Features to look out for are:

  • Local currency pricing (although US Dollars is commonly used)
  • Foreign data capture and hygiene processes, i.e. zip versus postcode
  • Database management – standardisation/customisation across countries
  • Add-ons – integrations with local products may be desirable, i.e appending additional data from national files to leads
  • Superior reporting – multiple country versions of adverts, forms and lead management processes add additional complexity

Fortunately, there are numerous outsourced global SAS performance marketing platforms, if you don’t have the necessary in-house resource.

The Local Consumer AKA the Lead

The most important factor determining success are peoples’ reaction to how they are being asked, where they are being asked and who is asking them to opt-in to marketing communications is the key to success. Problems can appear in unusual places too, as I found when running a sign-up campaign for a rewards site across the UK and US. The proven UK model on sign-up was to issue a temporary password rather than ask consumers to type it (and risk losing the conversion). When this model was rolled out in the US, poor conversions led us to conclude that US consumers were not comfortable being issued with a temporary password (to be changed later)  and instead preferred to key it in personally.


The ideal marketing model is to remain alert and flexible to the problems that may arise. At the outset, if you are unsure what is best to roll-out, go with what you know works in your own country, but be prepared to tweak things quickly as soon as you see under-performance or adverse consumer reactions.

The biggest wake-up call in international lead generation is the fact that your marketing instinct will be of limited benefit in these other countries. Assume nothing, go back to basics and employ a test everything n’ learn approach to yield the best results in lead generation spanning different countries.