But more than any other advancement in man’s history, the ability to connect real-time on the Internet has had a dramatic effect on our awareness of the rest of the world, and our ability to exchange ideas, services and products with others. The world has indeed become smaller.
Reaching a Global Market
Internet businesses, via e-commerce sites, can now compete in markets on the other side of the globe. Various tools and technologies have been introduced to make this easier. They can employ key people from different continents, conferencing with them as though they’re in the same room. And they can chat with shoppers, answering their questions, demonstrating products and closing the sales, as well as providing immediate customer service.
Is it really that easy, though? Can a shop owner in the U.S. really provide the necessary level of service to command a decent market share in Europe, Asia or the Middle East?
Yes, they can. But… there are some important considerations that need to be addressed in order to compete effectively. A global site audit can identify the technical and cultural issues that may keep your site from performing effectively, both with the search engines and with users. Here are some of the things that a global site audit examines.
Users – even between different English-speaking countries, it’s necessary to adjust writing style. Subtle differences in spelling and vernacular can make your message distracting, difficult to understand or, in extreme circumstances, insulting. Most U.S. copywriters generally won’t be able to relate well to U.K. readers, for instance, even though they may insert a few obligatory spelling adjustments. Every culture has its own way of saying things and addressing readers. And of course, there are often legal issues with which a business must be familiar.
In addition, the keywords that users search with can vary greatly, even from regions within the same country. Expecting potential clients from another culture to see your product with the same terms that are used in your home country is a recipe for disaster.
Search Engines – it’s also critical to let the search engines know who your audience is. If your site is coded as EN-US, but you’re writing to a U.K. audience, there can be 2 undesirable effects:
- The search engine may consider your site to be low quality because of the U.K. spelling you use, since you’re telling them your audience is in the U.S.;
- The search algorithms will be confused as to your location, so may not display your site to U.K. searchers, even if you have U.K. locales cited in your content.
This is why it’s so important to have your content prepared by copywriters that are intimately familiar with the local language and market – and have your site’s technical aspects checked by an experienced international SEO.
Cultural differences between different regions often play a very important role in determining how well your brand and products are received. Your content strategy must properly identify who you should be talking to, what you should be saying and how it should be said. For example, in some cultures, it may be considered totally inappropriate to address your marketing efforts to women, even though your product may be specifically for women.
Your otherwise professional demeanor may alienate potential customers that are accustomed to a less direct approach. Again, this is where an experienced marketer who is entrenched in the target culture, can be invaluable.
There is often great disparity from one country to the next, regarding a number of items of importance. In order to sell goods in some countries, you may need to have a business license or there may be reporting requirements. Many countries have different laws regarding what information you may gather and store, what privacy notices you must provide and what notifications you must send customers, in the event of a suspected security breach. The list of possible legal entanglements is virtually endless for a global company, so it is best to consult a professional that is thoroughly familiar with the requirements in your market areas.
Once you’ve had a site audit performed on your global business’s website and have been informed of any potential issues, it’s important to take corrective action as soon as possible. That way, you’ll avoid potential disasters and optimize your chances of quickly growing your business in your new market.
At Level343 we understand what it takes to reach your global market. We can help you create and implement a strong strategy that will garner authority, outreach, and relevant traffic.