When you think about growing your business beyond the borders of your home country, it probably feels like a daunting task: you have to consider language translations, currency conversions, cultural sensitivities, not to mention navigating a potential maze of local laws and regulations. However, depending on where you are located and how customizable your website is, taking the first step may not be as difficult as it seems.
Let’s say you run an online business in a country where English is the primary language, such as the United Kingdom. Your website and content are already in English, so why not begin by targeting customers in other English-speaking countries? If you’re in the UK, that means looking at the US, Canada and Australia, for starters. If you are not already doing this, why not? These countries not only speak the same language, but have similar cultures, meaning you’ve already overcome two of the biggest hurdles to global expansion. You’ll still need to understand local laws in these countries – including regulations covering taxes/duties, advertising and sales tactics – but you’re already pretty far down the road.
So, what are some of the things you can do to put your content in front of these potential customers outside of your home country? A few options to consider include:
Google ads: Google is an easy place to start creating advertising that targets particular countries. Create individual campaigns for each country you want to target, starting with text ads for search terms relevant to your business.
Announce your presence: Research local blogs and other publications that cover your industry and reach out to them to announce your business’s availability in their region.
Social media: Don’t underestimate the value of social media. Many platforms are global. Write up your announcement, post it on your blog and share it on social media, using hash tags and key words that target certain markets and countries as best you can, to make it easier for your content to get picked up and shared in those different markets.
Blogs/forums: Once you’ve identified the local blogs and social media accounts in the countries you are targeting, follow them and read their content. Post replies, linking back to your own blog or to landing pages (where appropriate) with relevant content in hopes of getting backlinks to your site. Avoid blatant promotion, though. The more constructive and relevant to the topics your commentary is, the more credibility you’ll be given, and the better chance people will seek you out as a valued provider.
Tailor your site and offerings
Once your content is in front of a global audience, give yourself the best chance of converting them into customers. What does this mean? Well, for starters make sure you have landing pages appropriate for the region of the person visiting your site. For example, if you’re marketing from the UK to Australia, make sure you’re not using slang that is local to the UK. Although your cultures are very similar, you still want to do some research to see if you can make any relevant local tie-ins.
Look at what other businesses – including your competitors – are doing in a particular market. If you see a certain type of product offer emphasized, or humor being used, etc., consider customizing your own messaging accordingly. While it’s tempting to save money by running the same ad to all people, remember that each market has its own nuances, and small tweaks for each country can pay larger dividends.
Take payment in local currency
Next, make sure visitors have the option to pay in their local currency. One of the biggest reasons a foreign visitor will not buy is if he or she doesn’t have the option to pay in their local currency. Many payment processors, including SegPay, can automatically display prices in local currency based on the visitor’s home region, while also providing the option for the buyer to check out with another currency – as well as to view the payment page in another language, just in case the visitor is not an English speaker (speaking of language, ask your payment processor if they can offer your consumers multilingual customer support. Many do.) You can customize the experience for each visitor by using browser variables to determine someone’s location and what their preferred language and currency are going to be.
When selling into Europe, make sure you also accept direct debit payments as an alternative to credit cards. Direct debit is the second most popular payment option in Europe and, again, SegPay and many other payment processors enable you to accept it.
More ways to get exposure
To build brand awareness in new markets, consider sponsoring an event or a charity in another country to get exposure and develop some goodwill for your product (while actually doing some good!)
Searching for popular and trending keywords in specific countries can give you an idea of which countries your product is likely to be more successful in. Go after the countries with lots of organic searches for your keywords where they speak the same language as your primary website.
So don’t be intimidated, start now to take advantage of a global marketplace by making incremental changes, and eventually expand to more markets as your comfort level grows with each new step forward.