International Expansion Strategy: How to Target Specific Countries

December 13, 2022
Contributor: Francesco Papagni

Devise the right international expansion strategy to target countries with the most growth potential.

International expansion may seem daunting if you're a B2B software business looking to go global but uncertain about the countries or regions to target. The dilemma could be about whether you should target developed or emerging markets, focus on the language of the country you’re targeting or design a local marketing approach.

Implementing the right global expansion strategy is the key to ensuring you're targeting the most promising and profitable countries. Your strategy should not only measure economic indicators such as gross domestic product (GDP) growth but also assess factors such as market competition, cultural differences and legal landscape.

According to Gartner research[1], while 70% of tech CEOs have some experience with international market expansion, many of their management teams do not. To ensure you're making the right decision when expanding your software company globally, it's critical to have a tactical expansion strategy that you can change as needed. Read on to learn about the factors to consider when crafting your strategy and how to go about targeting specific countries.

Why should software companies go global?

Since the adoption of new technology has become a global demand now, entering international markets can be a strategic move for you. However, before deciding which location to expand into, you must set a motive or goal for the move. For instance: 

  • Want to grow revenue? Tapping into new markets and customer segments can boost your top line and get you more revenue.
  • Looking to increase market share? You can do just that by competing in new markets and winning over customers from local competitors.
  • Want to diversify risks? Spreading your business across different regions can insulate you from country-specific risks such as economic recession or political instability.
  • Want to expand the customer base? Catering to new customers in different countries can lead to a virtuous cycle of increased customer base, better revenue and higher market share.

How software companies should target specific countries for expansion

Keeping factors such as market size, GDP growth, competition level, cultural differences and legal landscape in mind, here are some critical ways to target specific countries for global expansion:

5 ways to target specific countries for global expansion

1. Prioritize nations with large software markets

According to Gartner Digital Markets’ 2022 Global Software Buyer Trends Survey[*], 66% of businesses globally spent more on software in 2022 compared to 2021, and the numbers will only continue to increase. The reason? Enterprise software is becoming an increasingly essential part of businesses, as it helps automate and streamline operations.

With this in mind, prioritize countries such as Japan, Germany, Brazil and France that have large software markets. These countries offer the greatest potential for revenue growth and market share expansion by providing a larger addressable market for your software company.

Tips to target nations with large software markets:

  • Research the software markets in different countries to identify which ones offer the greatest growth potential for your software company.
  • Use market intelligence tools to gather insights into a target country’s market size, growth rate and competition level, among other factors.
  • Use intent data to identify companies, in different countries, actively researching and considering enterprise software solutions.

2. Research your target country's business and cultural norms

Cultural differences can significantly impact how you operate in different countries. For instance, Asian countries have different cultural norms than European or North American countries, so what works in one country may not necessarily work in another. 

Research a country's business and cultural norms to understand how to tailor your offerings to better meet the needs of local customers by understanding their preferences and expectations. With a better understanding of the local business environment, you'll be better positioned to identify potential prospects and build strong relationships with them.

Tips to research a country's business and cultural norms:

  • Conduct a Political, Economic, Social, Technological, Legal and Environmental (PESTLE) analysis of the target country to better understand its business environment.
  • Familiarize yourself with the target country’s local culture and customs to understand your prospects better.
  • Talk to people who have done business in the target country to get first-hand insights.

3. Develop a marketing strategy that resonates with local buyers

Once you decide which countries to target for expansion, emphasize creating a well-thought-out marketing strategy for local buyers. This is important because how you market and sell your products and services in different countries might vary considerably. For instance, what works in the United States might not work in China, and vice versa.

Some factors you'll need to consider when developing your marketing strategy include the local language, culture, customs and norms. Leverage market intelligence tools to gather insights into the local market, such as consumer preferences and buying habits, to ensure your marketing strategy is effective.

Tips to develop a marketing strategy that resonates with local buyers:

  • Tailor your messaging and positioning to appeal to local markets and audiences.
  • Establish an account-based marketing approach to focus on the prospects who are interested in working with global companies.
  • Use local influencers and opinion leaders to reach out to your target market.
Marketing strategy framework

4. Consider partnering with local organizations

When it comes to expanding into a new market, it’s critical that you rely on local, native marketing experts to optimize your keywords and messaging for local audiences in addition to product feedback. Ensuring consistency and understanding international SEO to best localize your marketing strategy in addition to the product itself is why partnering with local organizations is important for entering a new market. This is because, with a local partner, you can tap into their existing network and resources to quickly establish a presence and reach a larger target audience in the new market. Your partner can also help you better understand the local business environment and cultural norms, such as language, customs and laws.

Tips to partner with local organizations:

  • Do your research and conduct background checks to find a reputable and trustworthy partnering business.
  • Draft a partnership agreement that is clear and concise and outlines the roles and responsibilities of each party.
  • Monitor the partnership closely to ensure it is meeting your expectations.

5. Have a solid localization strategy

Localization is the process of adapting a product or service to meet the needs of a specific market. This includes translating the user interface, content and documentation into the local language and customizing the product or service to meet local preferences and expectations.

Localization is important because, without it, your products or services are likely to be perceived as foreign and not relevant to the local market. This can hinder your ability to penetrate the market. Therefore, always emphasize localization when expanding your business globally.

Tips to create a localization strategy:

  • Hire a professional localization team well-versed in the target country’s language and culture.
  • Work with them to create a glossary of terms to ensure consistency in translation.
  • Translate all user-facing content, including FAQs and user manuals, into the local language.
  • Monitor feedback from customers in the target market to ensure your localization is on point.

Tips to minimize risks and ensure successful global expansion

There are many proven ways to achieve success in global expansion, but there are also various risks and challenges you need to be aware of. These five tips can help you minimize risks and maximize the chances of successful expansion:

  • Go slow to go fast: Take your time, and don't rush into things. Try to establish a beachhead in one country first before expanding into another. This will give you time to learn about the local market and make any necessary adjustments to your strategy.
  • Know when to pivot: Be flexible and willing to pivot your plans if necessary. The market landscape in any given country can change rapidly, so you need to be prepared to adapt your strategy on the fly.
  • Adapt your marketing assets: Don't just rely on your existing marketing assets. Adapt them to the local market, culture and language. What works in one country may not work in another.
  • Appoint a local promoter: Consider appointing a local promoter who can help you navigate the new market and make necessary introductions to get your foot in the door. This step is invaluable to establishing your business in a new country.

Expand profitably with the right international expansion strategy

When expanding your business internationally, it's important to have a well-thought-out international expansion strategy in place. This will help you avoid some of the common pitfalls businesses face when expanding into new markets and maximize your chances of success. 

Be aware of potential risks such as differing regulations and standards, language and cultural barriers, infrastructure disparities and pricing issues. And lastly, use the tips we’ve shared to navigate any new global market you’re planning to expand into. With the right strategy in place, you can successfully expand and take advantage of global opportunities.

Global Software Trends and Buyer Behavior Insights 2022

Ebook: Global Software Trends & Buyer Behavior Insights 2022

Learn how to match the shifting preferences and behaviors of B2B buyers.

Francesco Papagni

Francesco Papagni is a Marketing Director of International Marketing at Gartner Digital Markets, where he helps companies grow faster and scale their operations efficiently. He has 14+ years of experience in international, omnichannel marketing and expertise in multilingual digital strategy and execution. Connect with Francesco on LinkedIn. 



Gartner Digital Markets’ 2022 Global Software Buyer Trends Survey 

Results presented are based on a Gartner Digital Markets study to understand business challenges and approaches to technology and software investments. The primary research was conducted in October 2021 among a total of 2,501 respondents in the following countries: United States, Canada, Mexico, United Kingdom, India, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Italy, Portugal, Brazil, Colombia, Belgium, Poland, Netherlands, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Norway, Ireland, Singapore, South Africa, Spain, Germany and France. 

Respondents were screened for having recently purchased technology and decision-making authority. Respondents were required to be responsible for making decisions on purchasing technologies for their organization.


1. Improve Market Expansion by Addressing 3 Blind Spots for Tech CEOs, Gartner

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