Advertising in North Korea can be difficult.
North Korea's sluggish broadband connection speeds, network restrictions, and sanctions present marketers with a unique set of challenges. As a result, international businesses often find audiences in North Korea difficult to reach.
Ultimately, this means marketers working outside North Korea often find themselves unable to raise awareness effectively, generate leads, and build the kinds of datasets they need to do their best work.
GoConvert's step-by-step guide to advertising in North Korea can help.
We've broken it into two parts: infrastructure and campaigning. The first part is based on our experiencing launching localized marketing assets in North Korea. The second is based on customer campaigns we've run in North Korea and elsewhere in the world. Together, we hope this guide not only adds to the growing body of work concerned with North Korea marketing but stands as the clearest and most comprehensive North Korea marketing guide available.
Learn how GoConvert helps customers launch marketing assets, conduct paid ad campaigns, and track the ROI of ad spending in North Korea.
Step 3: Content
There’s no shortage of payment processing solutions available. PayPal/Xoom, Stripe, Square, Payoneer, and others can all help you accept payments from customers around the world. If you find your preferred solution doesn’t operate in North Korea, find an alternative in this list.
Translate all site copy and SEO resources/meta tags into To reach the greatest number of people in North Korea, translate all site copy and SEO resources/meta tags into Korean. Google Translate can help create a first draft. However, before launching your site, have a native speaker and/or localization professional review the translated copy to ensure it communicates clearly and reads comfortably.
Localize Social Media
The restrictions North Korea places on internet usage can make it challenging to reach audiences on social media. However, you might review this list of social media sites to find any that are popular in North Korea (and that allow foreigners to set up accounts).
Remove Non-North Korean Links
Youâ€™ll want to remove any outbound links to non-North Korean sites from your marketing site. Even if a site outside the national network isnâ€™t explicitly blocked, your North Korean audience will often see performance issues and loading errors when trying to link out to sites based elsewhere in the world.
Scan Site for Sensitive Content
Because of political sensitivies and cultural preferences, authorities in North Korea are likely to block sites that contain certain keywords or content. Before launching your site in North Korea, youâ€™ll want to review it thoroughly and ensure it doesnâ€™t contain this sort of content. To see what kinds of content may be at risk, review this list.
Step 4: Development (Launch Prep)
Google Analytics is free, and adding it to your site will give you granular insight into a range of website activity including where your traffic comes from, how long visitors spend on your site, and which (and how many) pages they view. If you’re unfamiliar with Google Analytics, Moz has a helpful beginner’s guide.
Because of the restrictions North Korea places on its national network, Google Analytics may not always work there. However, since there's no local equivalnet (like Baidu in China), add the tracking code anyway. The results may be inconsistent, but the output will be better than nothing at all.
Use Google Search Console to manage sitemaps, review indexing frequency, check for crawl errors, &c. (Bing has a similar solution.) If you’re unfamiliar with Google Analytics, Moz has a helpful beginner’s guide.
Like Google Analytics, Google Search Console (formerly, Webmaster Tools) might also not always work in North Korea. However, again, since there's no local equivalent, integrate it anyway. It's better to have some results than none at all.
Make sure your images are less than 50k, that you’ve minified your front-end code, and that you use caching mechanisms. If your organization can make do with a static site or landing page for North Korea (vs. a database-driven CMS), you’ll improve your page load time and harden your security.
Step 5: Development (Post Launch)
After you launch your site, you’ll want to test site forms, chat applications, and any other third-party integrations to ensure they’re working normally. Moreover, you’ll want to review these regularly to ensure they haven’t suddenly stopped working. Marketing automation tools, data tracking solutions, custom fonts and icon sets, embedded maps and videos, API integrations — these can put upward pressure on site load time and, if the connection fails, make your site render incorrectly or prevent it from loading altogether.
This article lists a few resources that will allow you to test your site’s load speed. Google Analytics and Google Search Console will also help you identify any performance issues.
How does GoConvert help customers market to North Korea?
By combining the self-sufficiency of an application with the expertise of an agency, GoConvert uses four actions to help customers quantify results, maximize ROI, and achieve their marketing goals.
GoConvert uses all available data resources — ad vendor data, social media intel, analytics, contact information, and other digital signals — to continually fine-tune our customers’ audiences. We always know whom we’re speaking to and how well we’re resonating with them.
GoConvert uses audience intelligence to build highly-relevant marketing collateral. This helps ensure content topics, social media channels, and ads align with known audience variables. Now, marketing spending has the potential to generate exponential returns.
Lead Generation & Nurturing
We use audience-specific marketing assets from the first section to generate a steady stream of leads for our customers. This allows them to nurture prospects along a well-defined conversion path and creates additional front-line intelligence we can use to fine-tune our various audience hypotheses.
Measuring, Analyzing, Reporting, Learning & Fine Tuning
We use engagement data and other digital signals to constantly learn from our marketing efforts and improve our audience models. This allows us to fine-tune collateral resources, improve lead generation, hone conversion workflows, and improve overall marketing efforts (on- and offline).
When running ads that target audiences in North Korea, marketers don't have a lot of vendor options. Generally, GoConvert uses low-cost initial spends to identify the highest performing channels. Then, once we find the channel or channels that deliver the best CTR, CPC, and lead/customer conversions, we steadily increase spending with those vendors.
North Korea Native
North Korea is virtually ad free. However, if you do want to try to reach audiences there, you might try Chinese ad vendors like Baidu (Chinaâ€™s Google), WeChat and its parent company Tencent, and Sina Weibo (Chinaâ€™s Twitter). This article lists four other vendors, including Youku Tudou (Chinaâ€™s YouTube). Language barriers and high minimum ad buys can make these vendors challenging for non-Chinese companies to work with, but they're probably the best option for marketers who want to reach audiences in North Korea.
When systems allow it, GoConvert automatically aggregates data from these kinds of vendors. When this isnâ€™t possible, we manually import it. Either way, weâ€™re able to use native ad data to build effective funnels for our customers.
CTR & CPC
When marketing to North Korea, it’s critical for marketers to track click-through rates (CTR) and the amount they pay per click (CPC). Luckily, no matter what ad vendor you’re using to raise awareness, these work the same way in North Korea as they do elsewhere in the world.
And your goal is the same as well.
Fine tune audience data, and use that intel to improve the alignment of channels, messaging, and creative. This will maximize the number of clicks and minimize the amount you pay per click.
We call this the “virtuous gap.”
It’s marketing in its most harmonious state: putting sustained downward pressure on CPC (red) while simultaneously putting upward, even exponential pressure on CTR (gray). More often than not, the virtuous gap has positive collateral effects on lead flow as well.
By automatically aggregating marketing data, GoConvert helps customers build models like these, whether they’re marketing to audiences in China or elsewhere in the world. This helps our customers build powerful trend models, reveal actionable insights, and maximize the ROI of marketing spending.
North Korea Lead Generation
To generate leads in North Korea, marketers can rely on the same CRM, marketing automation, and form solutions they use elsewhere in the world.
Collect Leads Locally
Third-party, embeddable form solutions like HubSpot and Salesforce will generally fail in North Korea. If they appear at all, these forms usually wonâ€™t write data properly to servers located elsewhere in the world.
Even when we create our own forms with our own simple mail processing scripts, we find messages donâ€™t reach our inboxes and/or those of our leads. Either server-level email processing fails or messages arenâ€™t able to flow in and out of North Korea's national network.
Third-party scripts, emails, analytics â€” itâ€™s best to avoid forcing any data to enter and exit North Korea's national network. At best, the results are unreliable. At worst, data tends to get lost in the transition. Itâ€™s almost always best for marketers to treat their North Korea marketing assets as independently-operating, siloed entities.
When it comes to lead generation, youâ€™ll see your best results if you write all form data to a simple CSV file stored on your North Korea server. Periodically download the file, and import it to your CRM, email management solution, &c.
If you must use third-party forms and/or server-level email processing, the CSV can serve as a valuable backup and auditing tool.
Win Rate & ROI
When marketing to North Korea, it’s critical for marketers to track both win rates (the percent of customers you convert vs. the number of leads you generate) and ROI of their efforts (the amount of income you generate for every dollar you spend). Luckily, these metrics work the same way in North Korea as they do elsewhere in the world.
And your goal is the same as well.
Boost the ROI of your marketing efforts by increasing efficiency and decreasing waste, using actionable insights to keep ad creative and content well aligned with your audience’s interests, and bringing qualified leads into your funnel. This will help you build a returns-driven, holistically-healthy funnel.
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