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Top digital marketing tips: The do’s and don’ts of launching a website overseas

Albert Pusch, head of marketing at FACT-Finder, offers advice on the do’s and don’ts and the most important marketing tips for launching a website overseas.

Planning to expand internationally? Expect it to be messy and hard. But first things first, you won’t be going anywhere if you don’t have scalable technology in place. This will instantly give you a competitive advantage and make you faster in the market. The key is to use similar technology over all international sales channels so that your management teams can really evaluate how things are progressing abroad. Knowledge and process transfer from one team to the other is easier when you use one technology in all countries. If you have the right technologies set in place, you can focus on the top priority issues: getting international growth teams on board and taking a deep dive into the heart of a country.

Today you can sell abroad without being abroad and that’s never been the case before. There are a number of key tenets to keep in mind if you want your website to be a hit from Alaska to Azerbaijan.

Make no mistake, launching a retail website in a new territory, whether it be five or 100 new countries, is a big deal and one that is strewn with potential pitfalls: translation bloopers; logistical problems; a misreading of the local culture, to name just three. But these pitfalls can be avoided, if one follows a few rules of thumb and approaches the task in an orderly and practical manner.

Let’s first bury one long-standing myth: you can’t simply just translate a website, like a first year French textbook, and expect to achieve good results. It needs more work than that. First up, establish a priority order and time-frame, kicking off by structuring your product data. It is far easier to translate a well-structured list of product titles and product descriptions. And remember getting the product data right is the foundations, which your SEA (search engine advertising) and SEO is built upon, so make sure those foundations are firm.

Once achieved, then make hay with multi-language on-site search, which is indispensable. First of all, it gives you the advantage of setting up a new retail sales channel in less than a day and it immediately understands misspellings. Crucially, it also allows you to check how locals really search for certain items and these keyword phrases will automatically be added as tags to your product data. While such semi-automated perfectly translates your product list, a wise investment if you are producing blogs and other editorial content is to work with a translation agency or native speaking students who have a burning interest in your specialist area.

Once your product list is nailed, you have to fine-tune for each market. The best advice it to test, as how customers discover products varies country-to-country. For example, in Poland consumers are price sensitive, so it is advisable to filter by price and show the cheaper products first. Conversely, in more brand-centred cultures, such as Switzerland, brand filters are obviously more important. Our technology automatically places the filters that get clicked the most on top so you don’t have to manually test and measure everything.

Moving on to social and ‘glocalised’ is a mantra I can’t express loudly enough, as social media habits vary from country-to-country and if you aren’t cognizant of this you’re going become unstuck. For example, Germans inexplicably love forums, so check out groups within each network to ensure you are addressing the right audience. However, there is no Teutonic love for Twitter, so marketers should not focus their energy on this social network when targeting a German audience.

Being on top of these nuances is critical for a truly ‘glocalised’ marketing strategy, so be on top of everything from local needs to when local holidays take place. Likewise, an appreciation of regulatory issues is paramount, so assemble scalable and intelligent technology. Bolster this with the support of internationals teams who can dive deep into the heart of the country while regular international meetings and Skype calls should keep things on track.

So, how can you check if all this work has paid off? Are you getting clicks on your site with the right keywords? Is your site selling? These metrics must be achieved before you move forward into broader activities (TV ads, display ads).

1. Find the right scalable technology for your strategy
2. Hire the right growth teams for the country
3. Systematically drive traffic to your site and increase conversion rates

Focus on conversion and scale what you already know from your home market, keep to the same KPI- system in all channels, and adjust to the local conditions over time. And remember to test, test and test.

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