Building the business in your home market is hard enough so the thought of taking your company global might be a little intimidating. There is a myth that going global is a massive project which takes intensive planning and only the big enterprises can succeed internationally. However, don’t panic when thinking about extending your business outside your comfort zone. Going global is a path that any companies can go, you just need to keep these key steps in mind:
Begin with your website localization plan
To a foreign company, website is one of the most important channels to communicate with customers. Your website needs to be adapted to the target language of the local market. User experience, SEO or SERP are also the aspects you need to invest in when you enter another market.
Begin your internationalization process with a website localization plan and you can avoid a lot of issues when going global. To work with multiple languages, your website must use Unicode to ensure that it can display correctly the characters of any writing systems in your content. The way your website is designed, developed and coded will deeply affect the website internationalization. Therefore, it’s crucial to think ahead and equip your website with the right coding for further language adaption.
Be culturally appropriate
When going global, the images used in your marketing materials and promotions are very important. Make sure that you have done some research on local culture, habits and beliefs so that you will not offense your local customers. Remember that all the little details like colors, icons or gestures can bear different meaning and implication in different countries.
The image of a sexy girl in your advertising poster may inspire US customers to buy your products. However, it might get negative response in Asian and Arabic markets. So, be careful when it comes to the use of illustrations and models in your marketing materials.
Your brand name matters
The name is like the representative factor of your brand. It’s the thing that define who you are and distinguish your from other brands. Depending on the type of name, you will have it translated or not.
If your brand name is something you invented yourself like Instagram or Google, it will not be a trouble when you go global. However, it might sound like a not-so-good word or have different meaning that you want to avoid. Even big companies faced brand name issues when they entered new markets. For example, the giant soft drink brand Coca-Cola had such issue when they expanded to China. Its brand name was translated to “Bite the Wax Tadpole” in Chinese.
If your brand name is a generic phrase like Mountain Dew or Gee Your Hair Smells Terrific, you may need more careful translation to make sure that whenever the name is called, it sounds just right.
Remember that even when your brand name sounds really fancy and catchy in your home country, it might turn into something hilarious in another market.
Do not overlook user experience
A study by Compuware found out that nearly 90 percent of all downloaded apps are used just once and then deleted by users. And only 16 percent of people are willing to try out an app more than twice. To provide the best user experience, besides attractive design, your apps or websites have to run fast without freezing or crashing.
All the contents on the website need to be perfectly translated, culturally appropriate and visually appealing. Don’t overlook even the smallest details in your website like weights, dates, time and so on. Try to make the localized version of the website look and feel like the original one. Good user experience will result in more traffic, better conversion and lower bounce rate. As a business owner, if you put yourself in customers’ shoes, you can achieve global success.
Focus on customer service
After you have studied the local culture, internalized your website and enhanced user experience, it’s time to make a hit in the market. But don’t forget to establish your customer service. You can provide customer support via phone calls, email, SMS or online chat. The more responsive you are to customers’ enquiries, the better they will feel about your company and of course, the more products you will sell. Thanks to the Internet, you don’t need to have a representative office in every city or country you go. However, you need to have a group of staffs who will timely respond to your customers. Be available so that customers can reach you, that’s an effective way to build trust and customer loyalty.
Going global is not something out of hand or too difficult. It’s a strategic plan that needs thorough research, careful preparation, and a long-term investment. Even when you are just a small firm with low budget, it’s not impossible to expand globally. Success will not come overnight. You have to take one step at a time and be patient before your brand earns a place in another market. Remember that localization agencies are always there to help you conquer a local market and you are not alone on the path to global success.