With the uncertainty of Trump’s next move combined with the UK’s looming exit from the European Union, the international marketplace is experiencing a rare flux – and it is opening up opportunities for savvy businesses to get ahead in their globalization plans.
By Sergio Afonso
It’s almost the perfect storm. Existing relationships with world super powers are in jeopardy and the UK’s upper hand on Europe are together presenting US businesses with an interesting opening to fill this void in the EU marketplace. Historically, an opportunity would be one too risky to really pursue, but now the digital resources available at our fingertips allow for this chance to be tried and tested without posing too much of a risk to your existing successful business.
With over 18 years’ experience in working with international brands from the Apple to the BCC, CEO & Founder of Absolute Translations, Sergio Afonso, shares simple, cost-effective ways to “go global” that don’t require a painful outlay.
1. Use existing social media insights
There is a wealth of untapped knowledge sitting within your Facebook Page and Audience Insights. First, re-adjusting Page Insights to focus on a specific country outside of the UK to view who is already engaging with your brand socially. Ideally, this data will expose potentially unknown, but interested, markets who are already aware of your brand.
In the case that there isn’t an extensive foreign audience interacting with your brand on Facebook, Audience Insights are available to expose potential customers. The feature offers aggregate and anonymous user information on demographics, page likes, Facebook usage and most valuable: their location, language, purchase activity (i.e. having gaming) and purchasing preferences (in-store, online).
Comparing these data sets can reveal users who have an interest in a product or service (shown via page likes and activity) but are unable to purchase these in their preferred format or location. This easily accessible information that you many already be using to target local audiences has the ability to give you a clear direction on which new market you should take on first.
2. Translate onsite website content
The digital age cost of opening up for business in a new market is of a striking contrast to the traditional bricks and mortar expansion. Even for those with that as an end-goal, online translation to make your website more accessible to international audiences is a good way to test market viability for your product or service, without the necessary commitment. If you gain inquiries through your website post-translation, you’ll be able to better judge whether there’s a demand for your business.
Translating onsite content, however, is not simply the process of adjusting the words from Google Translate suggestions. If you are within the 40% of websites that are built from a CMS system, your system will have some localisation capabilities, though they do vary in proficiency. Some have in-built management features (Drupal, Joomla, EPiServer) and others, like WordPress, have plug-ins to manage this. Using these features will aid for the website navigation and core functions but, in a world where customers expect intimate and personalized content, these automatic features will not cut it for vital descriptive content areas, such as ‘about us’ or product descriptions. Opting for content to be transcreated rather than just translated by an actual human fluent in the language and not a computer, ensures that the essence and meaning behind the brand are communicated, and not just the verbatim.
3. Optimize for the new market
Once you have diversified your content into another language, your website will automatically have an increased likelihood of being more interesting to not only foreign audiences themselves, but their all-important search engine algorithms (hint: it’s not always Google). Conducting website optimization tailored to the new market is the finishing touch in making you as digitally visible and accessible to potential customers as any competitors, regardless of physical location.
The necessity of transcreated content is amplified when it comes to keyword research. Direct translations don’t work when considering the actual phrases people use to search. For example, Italians are more likely to search for ‘voli low cost’ when looking for low cost flights, choosing an English / Italian hybrid rather than the straight Italian translation of ‘voli a basso costo.’ Researching the specific audience is significantly more effective than creating a like-for-like. Further to this, ensure research is being conducted on a country-specific level and not language wide. Creating content in Spanish for a Latin American audience shouldn’t be directly duplicated for the Spanish market, the popular search terms and even words themselves vary greatly and would be likely to act as a deterrent to the new market.
If expansion towards Asia or Russia is on your horizons, remember Google isn’t the only search engine out there. Japan is dominated by Yahoo! which, while being Google-owned, has a different algorithm that prefers a higher keyword density and places more weight on directory listings. Awareness of these small but influential factors makes all the difference in your visibility in the new market.
While these 3 digital steps do require care and consideration, they ultimately provide your business with invaluable insights and opportunities in markets across the world without a substantial financial commitment or needing to reinvent the wheel of your successful business.