Last Updated: August 13, 2019 3:56PM
This is the fourth in a 10-part blog series on “Going Global.” Over the next 10 weeks, we’ll offer tips and tricks gleaned from 20 years in the business. Today: your company has decided to go global…but where, exactly, are you going?
If you’re here with us and have been following along in our Going Global series, it likely means something: your business has decided to go global. But once you’ve made that decision, you immediately have a new one to grapple with: where, exactly, are you going?
To globalize successfully, you need to select your first international markets carefully. In a literal world of options, how do you choose?
Start with what you have. Thorough research into your current site analytics and customer behavior, plus detailed analyses of your competitors and your ideal prospective customer, will guide you to the ideal first global markets for you to target.
What happens once you make your choice? Keeping your localization process focused in scope but wide in impact—i.e., small…but broad—will be the most efficient use of or your globalization budget.
So, follow along for our tips on how to figure out where you’re going—and how to really resonate once you’re there.
Analyze your Analytics
First, examine your current funnel to see where you’re already (perhaps unwittingly) capturing attention in foreign markets. A simple, effective place to start? Your website analytics.
Site analytics present a treasure trove of information for global marketers to tap. You can discover demographic information, like the age of your average visitors, or data on which sites are referring traffic most often to your page. Plus, you can find out the location of visitors’ browsers, as well as their language preferences. Visit and abandon rates will tell you both how many people from potential new markets find your site and how many are interested in your business—despite the language barrier that currently exists without localized sites for given markets.
Do you see a pattern emerge among visitors from certain countries or who speak certain languages, who are interacting with your site despite cultural and linguistic obstacles? Take note—these countries and languages should be the first stop on your globalization journey.
Narrow the Field
Once you have a menu of market options, you can narrow it in two ways. You can analyze the competition, and/or you can tap into consumer research.
When examining the competitive market, keep two things in mind. First: claiming unoccupied market share is easier than fighting for it against a brand already established in the market. Second: you can learn as much from failures as from successes.
The toughest competitor to beat in a new market will be the one born in that market itself. These adversaries already have in-country experience, plus the benefit of intrinsically understanding the social and cultural norms of their local customers. Established competitors still have some name recognition advantage. How can you compete? Offer a better product or experience—or lean into localization and upend another outsider who’s made a splash.
What if the market you select has no current competitors? Before you celebrate, consider why. Did another company try to expand there and fail? Why? Make sure you fully understand the landscape before you leap.
(Interested in learning more about how to tackle your competitive research? Tune back in for next week’s post.)
This is where research on the consumer side comes into play. Don’t just examine the customers that exist in the new market now, but also consider the trends of the future. For example: a bicycle accessory company probably has a bigger market in Berlin, “a cyclists’ paradise,” than Cairo, where biking is often dangerous and carries a social stigma. On the other hand, the growth opportunities in Cairo for such a company could be huge: the local cycling club grew from four people to hundreds in just five years.
If possible, form a few study groups of potential consumers to ensure you understand how their demands differ from those of your original market.
Maximize your Choice
With analytics, competitive research, and consumer details on hand, you’re ready to pick target geographies and languages. Here, you should start small, while optimizing your eventual ability to scale.
This applies to the localization process itself. Create a complete customer experience in a single other language before you add multiple languages to the mix. This same mentality also applies to which language you choose. In both cases, you need to be specific with your choice but thorough with its implementation.
Some target markets may have a common language that is broad enough to feel accessible to prospects from multiple geographies—think, for example, of Spanish. Each Spanish-speaking country has its own dialect, and in many cases, multiple dialects. But it is possible to speak in a broad, general enough Spanish so people in multiple countries will relate to the content. Even if you decide to invest advertising dollars in a very specific area, choosing a language that can appeal to multiple regions helps you collect information on the feasibility of future markets. As with all business decisions: test, analyze, and revise to improve your next globalization choices.
For help with this process, you can always turn to a language services provider that offers strategic guidance rather than just implementation. And for more tips on going global, be sure to check out the rest of our series.
Missed our earlier posts in the series? Check them out below.