To make your website relevant to whoever is visiting it. Getting the payment details, search terms, language, and legalities right to gain your customers’ loyalty, from wherever they are visiting your website.
To think of yourself as an international company with local customers, rather than a local business with international customers.
How to go about it
Increase your searchability
Localizing your international SEO strategy isn’t just about translation. Having recommendations for keywords which will perform well in each market is not enough. You will also need to learn how your new users interact with your market, and the best ways to help them find you.
Consider currency and payment
It’s vital your prices are localized as having to convert currency will deter some customers.
Different countries have different payment preferences. 30% of global online shoppers say they would be discouraged from completing a purchase on a site which doesn’t offer their preferred form of payment.
Even though credit and debit cards are the most popular payment methods in many European countries, in Germany only 25% of the population prefer using credit cards. The electronic direct debit payment method ELV is preferred by 38% of German consumers. In Sweden and Poland, 35% of people prefer online banking for e-commerce transactions. A further 20% of the Swedish population use open invoice. In Poland 15% of customers use cash-based methods for online purchases. In the Netherlands, 55% of Dutch customers make online payments using iDeal, which is a similar method to Germany’s ELV. Chinese consumers prefer Alipay, Tenpay, even cash on delivery.
So it pays to know your new market’s payment preferences. Remember to regularly recalculate your prices so they are in line with exchange rates.
You don’t have to be a chameleon when you expand your product or service into new markets; you don’t need to rewrite your brand or change your products entirely. With Market Finder all the data and insights you need are right at your fingertips. It makes researching new markets both easy and practical, and will make your customers feel that they’ve just met a local.
Keep the customer satisfied
An important key to company growth is customer service. If done well, it drives higher sales and lead generation. So, it’s a major factor to consider when going global.
At the very least, your new customers must be able to ask about products and services, or return items in their own language. If you plan a significant presence in your new market, you'll need a native-speaking support team. But, if you are starting small, there are low-risk, low-cost options, such as multilingual help desks, real-time chat translation, multilingual forums and communities.
Make it legal
Research and understand the regulations you’ll encounter. In these complex areas, nothing can beat the knowledge and experience of a local expert. Consider areas including:
Licences and permits — do you need special permission to sell your product?
Taxes — should you show prices inclusive or exclusive of tax? What taxes should you pay and what tax exemptions should you know about?
Trademarks, patents, copyrights — do you need to apply for any of these, or at least check you’re not infringing on them?
Data privacy — will the privacy laws allow you to collect your users’ data?
Age restrictions — if you sell age-restricted items, what are the verification requirements for e-commerce platforms?
Business insurance — think about general, product, professional and commercial liability. What insurance is mandatory or needed to protect you?
Packaging and labelling — what are the restrictions or requirements?
Advertising — what’s allowed and what’s not?
Using the World Bank’s Doing Business Index, you can get a heads-up about the ease of doing business in a country. It ranks on a scale of 1 - 190 based on how easy it is for a business to set up and run a local firm in each of the world economies. Ten topics are assessed to gain the score. Some of these include the ease of getting electricity, the ease of getting credit, and the potential for cross-border trade.
Take a look for yourself here.
Build on your branding
Global brands communicate consistently, with one logo, one vision and one set of values. This makes them easy to recognize anywhere in the world. Think of your organization as a person, and your brand as its personality. Your brand enthusiasts would not want your brand to change from what is familiar and important to them. Your aim is to keep your brand looking, feeling and acting the same no matter where you are in the world. But, it’s also essential to localize the brand to maintain its searchability for each new market. It’s a balancing act.
Speak your customer's languages
Around 75% of consumers are more likely to buy from websites in their own language. So speaking your target market’s language is crucial to global success. Consider all of the variables. For instance, countries like Switzerland, Canada and South Africa are multilingual. Languages like Chinese, Arabic, Spanish and others have various dialects.
If you have an app, it’s also worth checking:
- Your app's installs, user feedback and social media to find markets where there may be demand
- Optimization Tips in the Google Play Developer Console to see if there are countries where your app is
already gaining popularity
- Language selection page in the Google Play Developer Console, where you’ll discover:
- The top languages and countries where apps like yours have been installed
- The percentage of installs that come from users of those languages
- Further information to help inform your go-to-market plans for these countries
Think about the language your chosen market speaks, but only localize when you have to. For instance, 87% of Dutch people speak English so you may not need to translate your site for them. However, in Poland 95% prefer websites in Polish. Researching local preferences and managing multi-regional and multi-lingual websites is made a lot easier with Market Finder. It gives you all the support and tools you need including in-depth guides and insights about localizing in your new market.
Use Market Finder to identify key markets to expand into.
Learn more: For more free hands-on support from Export Development Canada, check out this list of resources.