Identifying the best digital strategy for Germany

When approaching a new market, companies invest in analysing market opportunities to define the most effective (digital) strategy. With increasing digitalisation the online approach is often copied from the home market. The assumption is that marketing channels are identical. Therefore, investment levels and the approach should be the same as well. But this can be a fallacy. While the technical mechanisms and many functionalities may be the same, the cultural differences apply to the digital playground as well. Just look at the comparably big need for security and familiarity in Germany. This is also reflected by the high demand for open invoice payment. Missing out these seemingly smallish differences can result in significant underperformance.

So how do digital marketing channels in Germany differ from those in other countries and how does it affect the digital strategy?

  1. Website

The need for security in Germany goes hand in hand with trust issues. Especially if you are new to the German market, customers want to know who you are and if you are trustworthy. This can be reflected in basic features like the usage of language. If customers feel that you don’t care enough to provide a fully translated webshop why should they trust your services? After all, phishing mails typically feature poor language. The devil is in the detail and that is especially true for website usability, where it is important to consider those cultural differences. For more information please click here for our Website Audit Guide.


  1. CSEs & Shopping Sites

Shopping sites or CSEs are perfect examples for differences in digital media across countries. While these are less relevant in the UK or in France, they offer great opportunities in Germany. The reasons may lie in cultural differences (information gathering for security, browsing habits, price comparison etc.) but also in the way CSEs are structured. Thus, shopping sites in Germany like Stylight or Mybestbrands are often backed by big media companies (ProSiebenSat1) or retailers (Signa Retail) and therefore provide high reach and/or access to special marketing opportunities such as co-sponsored TV spots. For successful market development you need to know about all these opportunities in order to make the most out of your budget.


  1. Affiliates

After the consolidation of Germany’s affiliate market, new and smaller networks regain in importance as they provide greater service and flexibility. An appealingly easy solution of “one account fits all” does not necessarily deliver good results, especially for the affiliate channel. Despite a great degree of automation (tracking, datafeed, creatives), direct contact is still essential when it comes to cooperation setup, negotiations as well as campaign optimisation. Needless to say that local market knowledge and social networking skills are essential to establish successful partnerships.


  1. Paid Search, especially Facebook and Instagram

The big social media platforms are obviously the same across country borders. However, specific features are often varying when it comes to the introduction of new features and their rollout timings. Despite these smaller aspects, there are some more severe parts that need to be looked at. Thus, it makes sense to have a local team that handles the company’s Facebook page as they know how to address the user and how to adjust wording or idioms.

A main advantage of using local knowledge comes into play when looking at social media ads and targeting options. While demographic targeting can be easily set up across countries, a more specific and promising targeting option like competitor or media targeting, requires deep market knowledge and specific networks. The whole ecosystem may look completely different and the users that are interested in your product may be browsing completely unknown pages you’ll miss out on when holding on to what you know from your home market. Successful campaigns rely on knowing the user and the market. So centralising paid search may bring solid results initially but less so in the longer run. This makes a great difference when you plan to achieve aggressive KPI targets.


  1. PPC, especially Google Ads

Similarly to Paid Search, successful Google campaigns strongly rely on language and market knowledge although the easy account handling across countries may lure marketers to leave it centralised. But despite language skill requirements the competitive environment may look completely different. The German market could be highly competitive for your product compared to your home market with different players and different rules (e. g. legal restrictions).  Therefore, your strategy may need local adjustments when it comes to market approach, bid management and content strategy.


  1. Digital PR & Influencer Marketing

As Germany’s media landscape greatly differs from the UK or France, digital branding options are varying accordingly. Operating as a performance catalyst for all marketing channels, a country-specific PR strategy can definitely be a key driver for growth. Please click here to get more details on the characteristics of the German PR and influencer markets.


What are your next steps to set up or improve the digital market strategy for Germany?

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Connected Topics:

Website Audit Guide

Scenarios for Local PR Support in Global PR Campaigns

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