Finally, the time has come to export your services or products and reach out to a global audience. You’ve made your market research and found out that international buyers make a likely target for your business. Before you expand overseas, however, the first course of action is to consider how the typical international order will go through your system. Indeed, shipping costs and delivery schedules need to be established for maximal upfront clarity. Ultimately, your customers have no intention of being charged additional custom taxes when your website didn’t mention anything about extra costs. Additionally, if you deliver national in a matter of days or hours for same-day deliveries, you have to organise similar delivery advantages for your overseas customers. Think of a brand such as La Redoute which has a large warehouse in France; British customers sometimes have to wait several weeks before receiving their orders. If you want your global expansion to be a success to need to ensure that your international audience gets the same advantages than anybody on the national market.
Typically, businesses invest a lot of time and money in building sustainable delivery promises for all their buyers. However, by focusing on practical issues, they often fall in the trap of the digital community. The Internet world, as we know it, appears to be primarily in English. But, it would be foolish to assume that your audience is comfortable with the English language. Indeed, you need to give your website an international twist to appeal to a broad audience.
Cover the basics with a plugin
Online retailers are among the businesses that can survive even if they don’t provide a translation of their products in the local language. Indeed, the design of the site typically encourages navigation and browsing, which can lead to purchases even if the buyers are not fluent in English. Indeed, eCommerce practices are similar around the world, which means that most users instinctively understand how to proceed to the transaction area. However, depending on the products you offer, it could be helpful to provide an on-the-go transaction with a multilingual plugin. Indeed, elaborate technical descriptions, for instance, can benefit from a translation, as it would help customers to make the right choice. A multilingual plugin works on the same site, which means that you don’t need to build a new website to target your international audience. If you’re working on a tight budget, it’s the ideal solution. However, you need to be clear about the level of translation you require. Indeed, not all plugins are suitable to translate your posts, your product description or even your metadata, which can affect your SEO ranking abroad. For eCommerce sites that can’t afford to create subdirectories or subdomains, a plugin is a handy option. However, for other businesses, it may not provide an acceptable level of translation.
Should you have one website only?
Working with only one website to tackle a broad audience can offer both advantages and inconveniences. Indeed, you can keep your SEO strategy in one place, which can make it easier to manage. However, you need to be able to optimize the site to fit each country. When SEO becomes a priority, an international plugin doesn’t offer an adequate approach. Instead, you have to consider using a subdirectory to keep each language separate. From an SEO perspective, you have a choice to set up your international domain architecture, using a country subdirectory after the gTLD (global Top-Level Domain) such as domain.com/uk/, before such as uk.domain.com, or replacing the gTLD with a country-code TLD such as domain.co.uk. Unfortunately, some TLDs are expensive to implement and requires a local presence. Additionally, while gTLDs receive the SEO credit from the main site, ccTLDs need to start their SEO strategy from scratch.
Ultimately you might need a new domain location
Typically, webmasters prefer to stick to a subdirectory approach, using the global Top-Level Domain model, as it’s the most valuable solution from an SEO point of view. However, your market research could point out to a different strategy if your overseas customers put more trust in a country code TLD. If this is the case, you’ll need to ensure with website design professionals that your international site uses the same design and layout than the rest of the brand. Additionally, while you’ll need to work closely with local resources to establish the site and the language, technical SEO factors remain the same across your online presence. In other words, keeping the same web designers onboard can ensure all sites are equally crawlable and accessible to search engines. You can hire specialist content creators to develop the relevant SEO meta tags for the international site.
Should you translate your blog?
To blog or not to blog, that is the question for every site that expands globally. The first and preferred solution is to rely on online MT engines to turn your English articles into a Spanish, Chinese or Russian blog. Alternatively, companies have also been seen asking their bilingual staff for help. Ultimately, while this might seem like a practical solution, you should stay away from translating your blog content in-house. Professional translators can help you to create meaningful content for each international area. Additionally, your audience groups have various interests. Are you sure that customers in rural Italy will care about the same things than your local London-based buyers? The answer is probably not. Dedicated marketing content writers who understand the local audience can make a significant difference in launching your global blog.
Do I need to hire international experts?
You can’t go global without a healthy mix of international and national experts. Indeed, your international team is best placed to target their country audience. Therefore, it’s a good idea to have a team of local bloggers, marketers, salespeople. You will also need to deploy localised social media presence which needs to be managed by a local team – trained to the values and processes of the business but familiar with the culture and language of the country. Ideally, your business needs to follow shared guidelines and policies that you can establish with the help of knowledgeable professionals from your HQ.
Going global is a long and challenging journey for many businesses. There are many options, and therefore you can’t find a one-size-fits-all solution for your expansion. Defining the right translation, team and domain approach will depend on your audience and their market.