Targeted International Content Marketing Key to Reaching Local Audiences


Motoko Hunt

For effective international content marketing, understanding local interests and audiences is key.

Much has already been written about the importance of content for website and online marketing. Whether you believe content is king or not, what is important is ensuring the effort spent creating quality content responds to the needs and interests of the readers.

The volume of content being created or how often it is pushed out isn’t the priority for great content marketing. Creating quality, user-engaging content is not easy. Creating content that responds to the needs of readers requires a lot of research to understand the target audience. Oftentimes, these efforts are poured into the main/home country site, but little to none of this brilliant content is pushed to international websites created for other countries, as they are usually nothing more than “snapshot in time” translations of the main/home country site.

While it is easy to say, “create content for local readers,” we also need to be asking, how different are the local needs of international websites?

Understanding the Differences

Below are the lists of the top 10 destinations in Japan searched in Google – by foreigners and by Japanese.


While Mt. Fuji is still a popular destination for Japanese tourists, a Japanese-language website should be more focused on amusement parks.

With the advancements of communication technologies and especially with the Internet, the world seems to be more connected and people share the same information. But that doesn’t mean that people are interested in the same things at the same time. TripAdvisor’s Top 20 Attractions in Japan by visitors from different countries shows how varied different audiences can be in their searches.

Here are the differences in the interests between American tourists and Chinese tourists.

TripAdvisor’s Top Five Japanese Attractions by American Tourists:

TripAdvisor’s Top Five Japanese Attractions by Chinese Tourists:


It seems American tourists’ interests are shifting away from Tokyo, and Chinese tourists are definitely interested in visiting shrines, temples, and castles. It is likely that the content for all of these popular places is already on any travel website. But the important aspect is ensuring an educated decision is made as to what content should be more visible to which audiences visiting any tourism website based on research and business objectives.

This is not unique to just travel. Here is an example of the top five jobs searched for in the U.S. and Japan, based on a Google keyword tool search.


In the United States, most jobs are filled on an as-needed basis to fill a vacant seat or to handle additional work demand. In the United States, people are looking for jobs throughout the year except for seasonal positions such as ski resort jobs. In Japan, however, many companies announce available jobs in the summer and fall to fill those positions in April, when their new fiscal year starts. This is why there are big differences in what jobs people are searching from season to season in Japan, and you don’t see people searching for government jobs and post office jobs year-round.

Another great way to understand local interests and trends is to talk to local offices, representatives, and partners. Their input will be especially helpful for B2B business owners.

Prioritizing Content Creation and Justifying the Resources

Localizing an entire website in all languages of the audiences being targeted is ideal but not always realistic – with limits on budgets or other resources. However, by understanding the differences in interests among the target countries, you can better prioritize the content creation and the content localization.

For example, rather than localizing the top 10 most popular places to visit by foreign tourists, start by localizing the top 10 most popular places visited by Japanese tourists on the Japanese website.

You can also use the data you collected to justify the resources necessary to fill the content gap, and to localize additional content. If you don’t have content for “House Tembos” or “Oedo Onsen” on your English site, you can show the data supporting the high interests for these places among Japanese tourists to get the budget allocation.

For example, China had the most tourists visiting Japan in 2013. If you need data to support your budget request to localize those shrines, temples, and castles in Japan for a Chinese website, look for the statistics and data published by the various tourism and government agencies. If the key to successful content marketing is understanding the reader’s interests, and providing quality content to satisfy their needs, the key to successful online business is how well you utilize the data to organize, prioritize and create the content for each of your target country that drives incremental revenue.