Do you dream of seeing your product available across the world? With the internet making it easier to market internationally, this is not an impossible dream. One entrepreneur Christian Arno launched his translation company Lingo24 from a spare room in his parents’ Aberdeen home in 2001. Today he has over a hundred employees working across four continents, clients in over sixty countries and an annual turnover of £3.65m.
Here you can read his top ten tips for home businesses looking to tap into new or emerging international markets.
1. Global Market Research
What markets should you target? Well, that depends on where your services/products will be in most demand. You need to research your target market – look to see whether there are other similar businesses in operation already. If there are, then that’s a good sign as it demonstrates a demand. Be wary of too much competition, as it can be difficult to succeed in an already saturated marketplace.
2. Website Translation
The cornerstone of any successful 21st century business is its website. It is often the first port of call for many potential customers and, in the same way as you would target customers domestically, you need to talk the language of international clients. Over 75% of the world’s population don’t speak any English, so having your website translated should be the starting point of going global.
3. Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)
If a business ranks highly on Google for its industry’s most popular key search terms, then they are far more likely to succeed. So, if you run a home-based graphic design business, for example, you really want to rank highly for the search term ‘graphic design’ – and as many variants as possible, such as ‘graphic design agency’, ‘graphic design London’, etc.
You can research the basics of SEO online – it is the building blocks of any successful online business. To find the most popular search phrases used by consumers in your industry, Google has a free keyword tool to help identify the best phrases to incorporate into your domestic website.
4. Keyword Research
Keywords form the basis of any SEO campaign…domestic and international. However, it’s important that you DON’T translate your keywords directly from English…they should be researched locally.
The correct dictionary translation of a keyword or phrase may NOT be what people use to search for the desired product or service locally, they may use abbreviations, colloquialisms or a different word that means the same thing.
For example, a literal and not-incorrect translation of ‘car insurance’ into French would be ‘l’assurance automobile’. However, Google’s French keyword tool indicates that this term yields very few results. A little research into the key search terms actually used in French search engines reveal that people tend to use variations of this term, such as ‘assurance auto’ or ‘assurance voiture’. A little research can avert a major problem.
The more external websites that link to your website, the more Google will ‘like’ your website. So build up relationships with other blog and website owners, offer them content (e.g. a guest blog post or advice piece) in exchange for a link.)
6. Pay-Per-Click Advertising
PPC advertising methods such as Google AdWords is a very effective way of driving traffic to your website from consumers across the globe.
PPC allows you to test out online marketing techniques for very little money – you can set your monthly budget at a nominal amount, as little as £5 if you like, and it allows you to gauge its efficacy without blowing your entire marketing budget.
Don’t underestimate the power of localisation. You must be wary of the differences in dialects within languages. For example, the French in France and the French in Belgium, Canada, or Switzerland is largely the same, but there are some key differences – some words can mean different things. All good Translation Services should only ever use translators who live in the target country.
Digital technology has shrunk the world. A business in London can communicate just as easily with the Stornoway as it can with another company in the same office block. A simple laptop and internet connection makes online marketing one of the most powerful sales channels available. Use email and VoIP technology to hold virtual meetings and conferences, set up FTP technology through your website to transfer large files. It will save you money and help streamline all your communications.
9. Local logistics
Local regulations, currency fluctuations, tax implications, immigration issues for transferring staff – these are just some of the logistics that you may need to consider when looking to target international markets.
10. Don’t delay
There’s no reason why you shouldn’t take your first tentative steps towards globalising your business today. There is so much untapped potential in Europe and further afield, it’s there for the taking.