Tap into a Global Audience

5 Tips for Selling to a Global Audience

 by anthony on  |
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Running an online business in today’s marketplace is tough work. Almost every business is in the same boat and there’s not much wiggle room to get your head above the parapet. To make more sales, you have to be seen; and to be seen, you have to stand out from the crowd. So how do all of the big, global companies do it? I’ll give you a hint, it’s in the name. They stand out as global companies because they’re just that: global. Think of companies Apple, Microsoft and Samsung – they’re absolutely everywhere. But to maximize your selling potential with a global audience, you need to put in some ground work:
1. Set Up Local Contact Channels
Selling to a new global market is fantastic and your sales will fly through the roof if you do it right. But don’t forget that the global companies we mentioned all have localized contact channels. There’s no worse experience as a customer than finding your new laptop has broken down and when you call the manufacturer, the person on the end of the line can’t speak a word of your language.

So, for everything from live chat to phone or email, make sure you have someone that is fluent enough to pick up the phone or type a message in the language of your customers. And don’t forget about time zones! Your customers won’t all be online at the same time, so you need to make sure you have someone available at a time that’s most convenient for them. If you have the resources to put in 24 hour local customer support, then that’s even better.

2. Translate Professionally
You wouldn’t serve up gobbledygook to your current customers, so why serve it to your new ones? Machine translation services are the cheapest way forward, but they really aren’t the best. They’re cold-hearted beasts and don’t care about anything else other than translating a word from one language to the other. No context, no human touch. Nothing but a translation.

Think of it this way, you’re pumping a lot of time and effort into creating quality, SEO friendly content on your website, only for it to be torn to shreds by a machine translation's indifference. Loosen your purse strings and invest in a professional translation that can give your content the love and attention it deserves. Your customers will thank you for it and so will your sales! Professional translation removes the risk of being misunderstood or misrepresented by your content and makes sure your brand message is put across in the way you want.

3.Use Country Code Top Level Domains (ccTLDs)
A ccTLD is a domain that’s assigned to every country so that search engines can distinguish one website from another. Take eBay, for example, who use a ccTLD for pretty much all of their countries – they’ve got .co.uk for the UK, com.au for Australia and .ie for Ireland, to name but a few. Using the wrong country domain is the same as taking a look at the phone book in the UK and hoping to find a phone number for someone in Australia.

Sure, you might be able to find it on rare occasions, but most of the time you probably won’t. Using a different ccTLD for each country you’re selling to will help search engines recognize that this domain is explicitly meant for people in that country. Sometimes user settings mean it’s not always possible for visitors to be displayed the right version of your site, so include a language widget to make it easy for them to swap to the one they want.

4. Know Where Your Customers Are
I probably already know what you’re already thinking: Facebook, Twitter, Google and YouTube. Sure, they’re the biggest on a global scale, but when you’re down to the nitty gritty of specific markets, you have to look past these and find out what works for individual countries. Take China, they’ve got almost a billion potential customers for you to go after and if you assume Facebook and Twitter are going to work then you’re doomed to fail. Why? Because both of them are banned in China, as are YouTube and Google.

China is a completely different market and to have any chance of breaking it, you’ll need to use the likes of QZone and Weibo, their Facebook and Twitter equivalents that hold the majority of market share. Then there’s Russia, boasting 143 million potential customers – V Kontakte is by far and away the biggest social platform there, with Facebook practically non-existent. Social media isn’t even the biggest channel in South Korea, where a blogging platform called Naver uses word of mouth to spread the joy about products and services. Do your research in each new country before deciding on a plan of attack.

5. Use Local Sales Campaigns
Every country will respond to different types of sales campaigns and have varying peak times to run them. Holiday-focused deals won’t be applicable in every country, because not all holidays fall on the same dates; or sometimes even at all. A Christmas price bonanza is the go-to move of many online businesses and yes, it’s really effective. But what about the countries that don’t celebrate Christmas?

That’s right, there are some unfortunates that don’t have Christmas and these include some of the biggest markets in world. If you’re planning on sending some holiday spirit to Japan and China (Hong Kong and Macao aside), then you can forget about it because they’re not interested. Black Friday sales in France? Nope, not a thing I’m afraid. I could go on, but you get the idea. There’s no “one size fits all” sales strategy that will work on a global scale, you need to localize your sales campaigns to match the needs of every country you’re selling to.

Final Word
There’s no easy way to globalize your business. It’s even hard to grow in a local market these days. The only thing you can do is arm yourself with as much local knowledge as possible, do your research and don’t be afraid to spend a little money to get a better quality translation. Localize your website as best you can and keep making improvements along the way. It won’t happen overnight but you’ll get the right results in time if you keep doing the right things. Rome wasn’t built in a day, but I’m sure you’ll agree that the end product was pretty impressive.


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