One of the many benefits the Internet has unlocked is the ability to expand into new markets. The lack of palpable borders means that customers can shop across countries and continents without so much as noticing where their latest purchase is being shipped from.
Expanding your advertising efforts internationally can be a great opportunity to maximize sales and reach customers that may not otherwise discover your brand, products or services, but there is more to it than just announcing that you ship to other countries.
If you are thinking of venturing into unchartered territories, here are four tips to help you achieve international success.
1. Do your Research
Spend time researching the market – look at the local economy, your competitors, and be sure that there is a demand for your product/service.
According to Claudio Perez-Korinko in his article “Four Steps to International Market Entry,” the best indicator on whether there is a market for your product is the ‘presence of similar technology, manufacturing processes and material sources’ in the target country. You’ll also need to identify any cultural, religious or political factors that could impact the design of your website, product packaging, or communications with your customers.
2. Be ready to translate
Language barriers can present challenges for global businesses, but with advancements in technology, it is now cheaper than ever to incorporate multi-language functionality into your website, - having said that, you shouldn’t give in to the temptation to use a free translation service such as Google Translate. The software cannot render accurate, intelligent translation and at best, conveys the most basic meaning, and rather badly at that.
Poor translation gives an overall impression of lack of professionalism, which will most likely annoy your audience. It is worth turning to a professional translation agency or a freelancer that understands your ‘brand voice’.
3. Collecting payment
Investigate which payment options are most popular in the markets you are targeting. For instance, consumers in the US and Canada are frequent users of credit cards, while Russians favor cash transactions and rely on services like Qiwi Wallet. In short, offering inadequate payment methods is a sure-fire way to alienate your target market.
4. Understand Regional Laws
When marketing to a global audience, your business should be aware of regional regulations on products, advertising and sales tactics.
Advertising: In some regions of the world, advertising related to certain types of products are subject to approval by governing bodies. For example, in many countries, advertisements for pharmaceuticals must be approved by local health ministries.
Product Laws: If you sell your product online to an international audience, it is subject to product development laws regarding chemical makeup, safety, and performance. These vary from country to country.
Sales Tactics: Promotional tactics such as contests, sweepstakes, and deals (i.e., buy one, get one free) are usually regulated differently across borders. Make sure your desired tactics don't conflict with local laws before running them.