Two key ingredients for success in global markets: Accessibility and relevance

Friday May 05, 2017
Written by Craig Witt, MotionPoint
Craig Witt, MotionPoint
Craig Witt, MotionPoint
May 5, 2017 - Expanding your business to serve international markets probably won’t impact how you manufacture your products, but it can radically change how you market and sell them. Customers have different buying expectations in different parts of the world, after all.

That can be a lot to worry about and track, if you’re serving those customers in-market with local websites. Launching those sites is complicated, too, but life gets a lot easier if you can answer this critical question:

Is my brand accessible and relevant to my new online customers?

Reviewing your international digital go-to-market plan can mean the difference between conquering new markets with culturally-relevant content, and getting schooled by smarter competitors.

Customers bolt when you don’t talk the talk
These days, manufacturer websites do way more than promote products and contribute to brand awareness. They’re also essential for building and maintaining customer relationships. For many B2B manufacturers, they’re a sales channel, too. But if you aren’t serving global customers online in their preferred languages, you’re already in trouble.

Speaking the language is table stakes. Seventy-five per cent of global customers prefer to buy products from websites published in their native languages. Sixty per cent “rarely or never” buy from English-only sites. That’s a brutal attrition rate — but it also shows just how important language is to your customers.

Localizing content is the secret to success
Providing translated websites will only get you so far in-market. These sites must also feel like they’re built by locals, to serve locals. This requires more effort than simply replicating all the content on your primary English-language website. Making small, but very important, content changes to create this local-friendly feeling is called localization.

Here are a few ways that localization can create authentic, resonant digital experiences for global customers:

• The 80/20 rule
Between 80 to 90 per cent of your primary-market English website can be translated traditionally for international markets, without nuanced localizations. But the remaining 10 to 20 per cent should be dedicated to offering locally-relevant product lists, promotions, banner images, user experience elements and more.

• Supporting local payment platforms
These days, nearly 60 per cent of B2B companies say one-third of customers buy their products online. That’s huge.

If you’re integrating transactional experiences on your global sites, make sure to support locally-preferred payment platforms. This means extending your financial fluency beyond Visa, MasterCard and PayPal and getting savvy about platforms like China’s Alipay, the Netherlands’ iDEAL, as well as others.

If you don’t, you’ll lose in a major way. For instance, in South Korea, foreign companies that don’t support preferred payment platforms often generate only 20 per cent of what they’d otherwise earn. Customers simply won’t transact when they don’t see their preferred platform.

• Streamline the sales process
Even if your sites aren’t transactional, your international customers will be kicking tires and craving product info all the same.

B2B buyers are especially hungry for this content. Nearly 95 per cent of B2B buyers use the Internet to research products somewhere in the buying process. In fact, Google research suggests they consume more than 10 pieces of content along the way and research suggests they’re only getting hungrier.

Meet your global customers’ expectations by translating not only your website content, but also your product and marketing info found in downloadable assets, such as your PDFs.

• Help them find you
You should also localize other website elements, like URLs, site maps and search tags. This can greatly improve organic traffic and increase your business leads.

Summing up
If you want to decisively win in global markets, leverage your online channels to serve local customers in authentic, meaningful ways. Crafting a thoughtful approach — and engaging the right technology and cultural experts — can really move the needle in these markets, and avoid costly mistakes.

Craig Witt is the executive vice president at MotionPoint.

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