Not too long ago, taking your business global was a daunting prospect requiring massive amounts of work, resources and expertise. Now, it’s just a few clicks away.
But while it’s possible to ‘go global’ simply by running an international Facebook ad or translating the copy on your website into a few other languages, in order to be successful with international expansion, it’s important to have the right strategy in place.
Just like your current online marketing plan, your international strategy needs to touch every facet of digital marketing. Here are a few points to consider for each.
You likely have stumbled across websites with the option to switch to other versions in different languages. And while making your content accessible to non-English speakers is a minimum requirement for going global, it’s important to realize simply translating the copy most likely won’t bring the results you’re seeking.
Even if you hire native speakers to translate your site, some things just don’t translate – and the same goes for marketing tactics. What comes across as appealing and persuasive in one culture can seem off-putting or even offensive in another, so it pays to do your research and create customized versions of your website for each international market you enter. From the content you include to the images, graphics, and even the colors you choose, each version should reflect your research into that culture’s values and sensibilities.
Similarly, customize your search engine optimization efforts for each international market. SEO keywords aren’t just single words – they’re the complete phrases people use to search for things on Google and other search engines. So once again, familiarity with the culture and its idioms is key for optimizing your site, creating content and running paid ads.
Another important consideration is the search engine itself. While Google holds a position of prominence internationally, it’s not on top everywhere. In China, Baidu is the search engine of choice, and in Russia, it’s Yandex. If those are your target markets, some research into those engines’ algorithms is called for.
Marketing internationally via social media is another area where research into cultural norms and preferences is needed. From the images you use on posts to the kinds of posts considered appropriate, in-depth research - or even help from a local - is recommended to ensure you make the right choices for each audience. And in order to make each of your social media pages as welcoming as possible, have one in each different language of your target markets. Wading through a page where only every other post is understood gets old quickly.
Social media advertising presents another sticky international situation, since laws and regulations for advertising differ from country to country. Be sure you’re clear on what’s allowed and what’s not before you create your first international ads.
By doing research into your international target markets, getting help from locals, and then customizing each aspect of your online marketing strategy for each culture, you’ll enjoy much more success from your efforts. While some things remain a constant – your website as marketing hub, the importance of SEO, and the effectiveness of social media marketing – the way you approach those tools will differ from culture to culture. Tapping into those differences is what will help you stand out from your competition, and make a splash on the international stage.
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About Shama Hyder
Shama Hyder is a visionary strategist for the digital age, a web and TV personality, a bestselling author, and the award-winning CEO of The Marketing Zen Group–a global online marketing and digital PR company. She has aptly been dubbed the “Zen Master of Marketing” by Entrepreneur Magazine and the “Millennial Master of the Universe” by FastCompany.com. Shama has also been honored at both the White House and The United Nations as one of the top 100 young entrepreneurs in the country. Shama has been the recipient of numerous awards, including the prestigious Technology Titan Emerging Company CEO award. She was named one of the “Top 25 Entrepreneurs under 25” by Business Week in 2009, one of the “Top 30 Under 30” Entrepreneurs in America in 2014 by Inc. Magazine, and to the Forbes “30 Under 30” list of movers and shakers for 2015.LinkedIn named Hyder one of its “Top Voices” in Marketing & Social Media. Her web show Shama TV was awarded the “Hermes Gold award for Educational Programming in Electronic Media” and most recently she was awarded the “Excellence in Social Media Entrepreneurship” award for 2016 by Anokhi Media.
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