While many businesses never dare to dream of expanding to foreign markets, some are ready to embrace the risks and the prospects that such ventures might hold. Research is a necessary step of preparation for a foreign market invasion, closely followed by planning which is performed based on the accumulated data. In some cases, the initial research phases will show clearly that your business is still not ready for such a jump and it would be wise to heed your own advice.
However, if you see a good opportunity, you need to come up with the right strategy to grab it, that is, to market your products or services. A digital marketing strategy tailored based on the foreign client is the best recipe for success, so with that in mind, here are some tips to guide your strategic thinking when aiming at foreign markets.
Tend to basics before setting goals
Diving into a foreign market blindly is probably one of the worst strategies because not only can it be detrimental for your international efforts but it can shake your core business as well if you aren’t successful. Not setting any goals also means that you won’t be able to monitor your progress, react on time when needed or make any decision-making assessments.
One of the most important supporting elements of your digital strategy goals is your budget, so you need to, first and foremost, define the amount you are willing to invest in your international strategy. Another essential element is taking a sneak peek at your competition since it is always more prudent to learn through somebody else’s mistakes than your own. In addition to that, since the strategy’s success has to be measurable, it is important to choose the best tools for monitoring its implementation progress.
Research the market thoroughly
Not bothering to learn more about your clients’ culture and the market is a one-way ticket to failing at striking a deal. Besides, if you want to grow roots in a highly-competitive market such as Asia, for example, you have to understand how local business people think and use that to your advantage in your digital efforts. This is why you need to start by getting informed about their culture, history, as well as current business trends.
While the information on Asian culture, history, and business etiquette can be found in numerous books and online resources, understanding the business trends in China, for instance, demands being more involved with everyday occurrences that dictate them. The best manner to stay in touch with such happenings is by reading locally relevant news platforms such as Week in China, which covers a wide variety of topics and is also, conveniently, written in English, facilitating understanding to foreigners.
Don’t skimp on translation
Language, naturally, plays an important part in any successful negotiations and although English is widely accepted, when having a foreign market in sight, you would have to do better than that. This doesn’t mean that you should learn Chinese or German overnight so you can dazzle your clients at a meeting but simply to adapt your online content and offer to the target market.
Relying on Google Translate will not get you far because this translation tool, although helpful, is far from perfect and you can end up with ambiguous product descriptions, confusing payment pages, and altogether a difficult-to-navigate website which will not help your digital marketing campaign. So, instead of saving money on hiring translators and making a messy and inefficient website, you should consult with language experts who will not only translate your content correctly but also adapt it (localize) to your target culture.
Consider the web design
Although many non-techie individuals are unaware of that, cultural and linguistic factors shape the design of the (foreign) website to a great extent. For instance, content written in languages that have longer words, such as German and Finnish, shouldn’t be placed in smaller fonts because it would be difficult to read, especially on smartphones.
Another example of a culturally-shaped design element is the overall appearance of the website: what Europeans would consider a website packed with a great deal of information, the Chinese would grade as regular, while typical European websites would look somewhat empty to them. Your foreign SEO tactics may be quite different than your usual because, for starters, Google is not the most popular (or at all available) search engine in all parts of the world. Yandex dominates the market in Russia, Baidu in China and these are all features you need to keep in mind when developing your digital marketing strategy or you might be unpleasantly surprised by low traffic to your website.
Content is one of the most important elements of a quality digital marketing campaign but it is not the most relevant one, especially in the case of foreign market efforts. The strategy needs to start from the practical side, that is, with the budget and the tools for monitoring its success. Also, while a good website will be correctly translated by professionals, a great website would be completely adapted to the foreign market based on the knowledge of cultural, economic, historical, and linguistic circumstances. So, if you ever wish to expand, these tips will help you develop the right approach to whichever market you choose.
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