While there is no doubt that most businesses can see the value of expanding their reach to new markets, many assume international expansion will expensive and time-consuming, so rule it out on that basis. And sure, if you decide to launch a 200 page website in 150 countries that will be the case however there are ways to go global and develop and international website without breaking the bank.
You don’t have to conquer the world overnight. Start small, with just one or maybe two countries. This enables you to find out what works and what doesn’t, before you then try and rollout further. You’ll keep costs down but also be able to focus on making sure your first target markets are successful.
Targeting a new market doesn’t mean replicating everything you do and have in your home market, you can be selective.
This can be the products you sell –your entire product range of 650 items doesn’t have to be available everywhere. Research the market to understand what is most likely to be popular, any gaps in the market and start there. You can always expand your offering later.
It can also mean the content you have available. Again, it might not be necessary to translate your entire website, and localise every blog post you’ve ever written. Choose the most relevant content and start with that – it could be as little as 1 landing page to begin with, depending on what you’re hoping to achieve.
Just because every day you see an article or tweet claiming that “China is huge” and “online spend in China beats the rest of the world”, it doesn’t mean that China is the best market for you to target. There are multiple factors to consider when it comes to making the decision about where to target, and it’s worth collating this in a scorecard, which lets you compare multiple countries and factors easily.
This example shows that you might have analytics data to suggest you get a lot of interest from Russia, however there is a lot of competition for your product and the logistics of actually delivering might be difficult. Equally, there is little competition in Brazil and you have a Brazilian native as part of your core team but the keyword research tells you there is also no demand for what you offer there. France, however, seems to have the demand and you have the capabilties – so that may be a good place to start!
These are just some examples of the factors you could consider but the message is don’t base your decisions on just one factor – look at the bigger picture and be strategic in your activity.
Share and Share Alike
A common gripe amongst international marketers is the assumption that you can use the same content and approach for countries which speak the same language – which of course isn’t the case due to language variances and cultural nuances. However, that doesn’t mean that that there aren’t commonalities and ways to scale efforts across countries. From keywords to ad texts to web page content, identify what works well in one market and share that with other markets with the same language – you may have to adapt elements but it will be more efficient than starting from scratch with an entirely new language.
Be realistic about what you can do yourself in-house and what you need to outsource. Get help where you need it and don’t sacrifice quality for cost saving; if you’re going to make the move to international, you need to give it the best chance of success. There will be costs and there will be time investments, but you’ll reap the long term benefits if you plan and execute your rollout properly from the start.
Also be realistic that, like anything, international success will take time. You need to establish a presence and build aware and trust with a new audience, which doesn’t happen overnight. But hang in there, it’s worth it!