E-commerce marketing is hard enough to conquer before you begin to factor in targeting audiences outside of the country you’re based in.
However, the potential rewards for boldly selling where your online store has never sold before are huge. In fact, the average SME in the UK that begins to export can see total sales revenues increase by £300,000 each year.
However, only one in 10 businesses do sell internationally, and there are numerous reasons why.
First, lack of internal resources and knowledge made getting started with internal selling a daunting prospect. Where do you begin? How do you ship orders abroad? What are the customs procedures?
And then there are digital considerations to factor in too, including calculating shipping rates for different countries and, crucially for this article, how to actually generate those first international sales to make your efforts worthwhile.
If you’ve established that selling internationally is right for you, and have explored the technical, legal and procedural processes to make it work, then the next step is deciding on how to actually drive brand awareness, traffic and sales from your new target territories.
In short, how do you choose the right digital channels, and what are the international e-commerce considerations of each one?
Let’s dive right in.
Organic search, or SEO, is the means of driving traffic from the likes of Google and Bing. SEO traffic tends to be the lifeblood of most websites, bringing in ‘free’ clicks and sales on a typically sustainable level.
But driving those first clicks requires gaining positive search engine rankings. That is, you need to be ranking on page one to really start generating some visibility for your website, for the keywords that matter most to your business. After all, the best place to hide a dead body is on page two of Google search results!
Here are some international SEO considerations before you get started:
- What language is most spoken and searched in your new target territory? Do you need to offer a translated version of your website?
- If yes, then you need to ensure that translated pages are indexable by search engines. That is, they render their own URL which can be crawled by Google’s crawl bots!
- How powerful are your competitor’s websites in that country? Check your site’s domain authority versus theirs.
- What countries are the majority of your backlinks derided from? Consider implementing a linkbuilding campaign to generate blogger, digital PR and directory links from sites with a top level domain that matches the country you’re expanding into (for example, .es websites in Spain).
- Make sure you’re optimising your website for the keywords that consumers in your target country are actually searching for. They could be searching for different variations, for example, bin versus trash can. Or, they could be searching in a different language altogether.
Social is a key channel for most businesses, but especially when it comes to e-commerce marketing. Building large social communities, turning customers into social advocates and placing your ads in front of the people most likely to buy your products are reliable revenue streams for online brands… so long as you have the right strategy in place.
The fundamentals of good social media marketing tends to hold true in whichever country you’re doing business in. Create great content, put it in front of the most relevant people, and entice them to make a purchase.
Read more: How to ensure your website attracts an international audience
But what questions do you need to ask about your social media strategy as you go from local business to international brand?
- If influencer marketing has been a success in your base country, then research which influencers are most relevant to your new target territory.
- Do you need to set-up separate social channels in a different language?
- How competitive is the new country’s social space in your niche? Who are the main competitors?
- Is the target demographic for your product the same in one country versus another?
- Which social platforms are your target audience using the most? This can change drastically from country to country, especially if targeting an entirely new continent.
- What are the social norms and customs that may affect your marketing messages and creative designs?
Our final consideration for this article is paid search. PPC, such as Google AdWords or Bing Advertising, is a method of paying for clicks from search engines, and placing your ads in front of people either when they’re directly searching for what you have to offer, or by targeting audience segments that are most likely to correlate with your perfect customer.
Like with social media, the fundamentals of paid search in any territory remain steadfast: the right targeting, the right placement, the right messaging and the best landing page experience will all help to drive better results, and a profitable return on investment.
But as you expand your campaign targeting to new countries, it’s worth also considering:
- What language do target consumers in the new country most often use search engines in?
- Do you need to translate your ad copy? If so, do it professionally as poor translations (even those provided by Google Translate) will reduce trust and harm conversion rates.
- What keywords are people searching for? They may differ from your home country, and could be in an entirely different language most of the time.
- What websites are your target customers most engaged with in the new territory? This will feed into your display placement campaigns.
- Does your landing page have the right trust signals? The audience in your new target country may never have heard of you, so include great reviews and relevant trust logos on your site – preferably reviews and logos that mean something to those consumers.
- Offer the right delivery options and competitive pricing. It may be preferable, albeit a big strategic job, to distribute popular product lines directly from within the new export market to speed up delivery and cut costs.
Want to learn more? We created a free international marketing whitepaper that goes into more detail about the specific marketing channels available to you, including strategic considerations and traditional marketing avenues too.
Competition for search engine rankings has never been tougher, and even trying to get noticed in your home country can be a challenge. But what if your target audiences are in various territories?
International digital marketing is becoming an increasingly sought-after requirement for businesses new and established as globalisation and online shopping has made it easier than ever to buy or source products and services from anywhere in the world.
And if your business is trying to attract customers from more than one country, here are some key considerations to ensure your website is visible in all the territories that matter to you.
Pick the right domain
First thing first is to make sure your domain name itself is geared towards ranking in different countries.
Most websites with a local target will have a top-level domain that ends with a specific country code. For example, an Irish website will end .ie, a German site .de, and a UK site .co.uk.
These TLDs tell search engines which country your site should rank in. But as a result, it means that websites with these localised TLDs can struggle to appear in search results within other international markets.
It’s not impossible. For example, an Irish hostel with a .ie TLD will still appear to someone searching in Germany for a hostel to stay at in Galway or Dublin.
But to really penetrate into a new market, your best bet will be to acquire a .com domain.
The right language
Offering a selection of language options on your website not only builds trust and increases conversion rates, it also helps increase your website’s visibility in target countries.
For example, if your website is in English but your target audience in Itay search Google in Italian, then your website pages won’t match up to what they’re searching. And if they don’t match up, they won’t rank.
Translating your entire website is just one consideration here though – you also need to ensure that your translated pages render on a specific, indexable URL. This will mean that search engines can crawl and then index the translated versions of all your pages, and then show them in international search results.
Another option is to offer different websites to target different zones, and have these websites already translated into the native language of that country. This is something that GORR, an international translation company has done. They have four websites, one in English, Czech, Slovenian and German. All these websites rank well, and because they appear to be localised websites to users, they convert well too!
An international backlink portfolio
The final step is to consider your website’s backlinks. Backlinks online work like word-of-mouth offline. It’s Google’s way of assessing if your website is trustworthy and should rank highly in search results. Because, if 10 websites are linking to yours, but only one website is linking to your competitor, then your website must be more trustworthy and have the best content.
Linkbuilding in your home country is hard enough, but when it comes to international search engine optimisation, you also need to consider generating links from your target countries.
So, if your website is geared to an international audience, but 90% of your backlink portfolio is from just the UK, then you should rank well in the UK. But, there isn’t enough international link clout there to convince a search engine that your website is also popular in another country.
Read more: 10-point international marketing checklist
An effective way around this is to create a list of international competitors in your chosen territories and analyse their backlinks. A native Spanish competitor should have a backlink portfolio filled with all the Spain-based website links you need to start ranking well there, and you can analyse their best ones and look to replicate them!
Leave it to the experts
Here at Go Exporting, we’ve worked with numerous international businesses to get ranking internationally – and generate leads and sales too.
Through international SEO, cross-border PPC and a range of other integrated digital marketing techniques, we can get your brand known in the territories that matter most to you.
Learn more about our international digital marketing services here.
Earlier this month we were delighted to join Business Wales to host a webinar on international marketing.
A critical element of a successful international business strategy, the webinar covered a broad range of elements including:
- Defining your market
- Knowing your market
- Digital marketing
- Conferences, exhibitions and advertising
- Direct sales and marketing
- Analysing competitors
- Building an international marketing strategy
Watch the webinar for free below!
We created a free international marketing whitepaper to go alongside the webinar which goes into more detail on each of the aspects covered.
Direct-to-consumer brands are killing it right now. More creative, marketing powerhouses with often a singular, awesome product to sell have started flooded the marketplace.
And where’s the first place we often hear about these brands? That’s right, social media. Who knew that buying a new mattress could be so exciting before Eve Sleep and other similar brands started popping up on our news feeds.
And it’s not just the promise of better sleep that’s drawing us in. Contact lenses, men’s razors and other offerings really existing in the ‘necessity’ band of products started flexing their creative and branding muscle to deliver intriguing consumer propositions.
They’ve cut out the middle man and it’s delivering products that people really WANT to buy, as opposed to having to buy.
But smaller newcomers to the game will lack one thing which the traditional retail model often provided – that experienced international middleman. The actual distributor and on-the-ground seller who could potentially buy their product, ship it overseas and sell it into a completely new market.
Indeed, the essence of a direct-to-consumer brand is that they’re pretty much entirely self-reliant. All sales traffic is directed to their own website over-relying on reseller sites or bigger online e-commerce names to take, stock and sells their product amongst thousands of others.
Read more: Managing multiple currencies whilst selling abroad
It helps maintain profit margins and brand authenticity. It helps keep RRPs down too, or in the very least offers a larger scope to offer enticing new-customer deals and apparent price cuts.
But what next for these renegade brands when they’ve conquered one market and want to begin expanding into the next? What can they do when country A is completely saturated but country B has been earmarked as a huge opportunity?
Direct-to-consumer digital marketing in the country native to the brand is a whole lot easier than taking the same product into a new, international territory.
Here are some considerations to get you started:
Is your USP a USP in the new market?
Just because your product rocks in one market, doesn’t mean it’s going to break the mould in another market. The product itself could already be extremely popular with a primary, well-recognised brand in control of the market. Take time to conduct market research before planning anything else.
Will you have to change consumer behaviour to make a foothold in the new market?
One of the most expensive marketing campaigns you can run is one that aims to challenge consumer behaviour and change it to one that’s more favourable to buying your product. In the UK, for example, selling mattresses online is more than acceptable. The UK spends more online than it does on the high street.
But in certain territories that are far less technologically developed and internet uptake is still growing, how are you going to acquire enough customers to justify exporting costs? The target populous could be huge – billions in-fact if looking at Indian or pan-Asian markets. But what proportion of that target market is online and trust e-commerce?
Does your marketing budget stretch far enough to really hit the ground running? And could realigning marketing budgets affect your bread and butter markets?
Your bread and butter budgets need to be protected. If it costs you £100,000 a year to maintain your current market position in your core marketplace, it would be unwise to syphon a proportion of that budget towards a new international territory entrance campaign.
Create and hoard a profit surplus and ensure it’s well stacked to fully commit to and successfully execute a sales and marketing drive in a new country.
How are you going to ship your products to the new customers on time and at a cost-effective level? Can you still offer free shipping? Will you need to set-up a new continental distribution base and if so, how much will this cost to set-up and run?
As Eve co-founder Kuba Wieczorek points out; “Every month there’s someone and they last maybe three months because they’re not able to produce an amazing product and get it to consumers in three days.”
“That whole back end is so mega important that if you don’t get it right you’re screwed.”
Are there rules and regulations on the product you’re shipping, and how do those regulations differ across various international borders?
Major trading blocks are often tariff and regulation free. If your business exists within the EU, for example, you should easily be able to start selling and shipping your products to other Single Market member territories hassle-free. But what about further afield? What are the product regulations in China? Or America? Or even in the UK after Brexit?
Also consider your entire product collateral and how packaging, instructions and warning labels will all need to be translated to the new native consumer.
Read more: Three things to consider when marketing abroad
Take time to thoroughly research your new target territory, and don’t enter the market on hearsay of growing product interest or potential massive scope. But most importantly, don’t let the nitty-gritty of exporting products and shipping worldwide hold you back once you hit the go-live button in that new marketplace.
Get the right advice and formulate the correct plan at the very start and your journey into international markets will be faster and result in fewer headaches too. See how our export consultancy could help your business today and for the future.
A joint report by Google and Temasek Holdings has predicted that the Southeast Asian internet economy is expected to be worth $200bn within the next seven years.
The report, called ‘e-Conomy Southeast Asia Spotlight 2017’, noted that growth last year outstripped expectations by 35%, worth $50bn at the end of the year.
E-Commerce sales have been identified as a key driver of growth, reaching just under $11bn in gross merchandise volume – 50% higher than in 2016. Two critical sectors for growth include mobile-first platforms such as Shopee and Tokopedia, as well as ride-hailing services with the likes of Grab, Uber and Go-Jek.
However, the report suggested that the key growth limitation in the SEA region was the lack of tech talent, especially homegrown.
Opportunity for tech infrastructure & specialist exporters
Whilst major countries within the Southeast Asian zone such as Japan, China and South Korea report between 53% and 91% internet penetration, emerging markets still struggle with limited internet usage, despite high take-up on mobile phone usage.
Despite this, the region is regularly earmarked as a key growth economy when it comes to mobile usage, advertising and digital spend.
And whilst Western giants such as Facebook have been vying for a piece of the Chinese market for years with varying success (recent reports suggest company execs leaving in droves with the development of a censored version of the social app developed to launch Facebook into the market), less tapped opportunities in Bangladesh, Myanmar and Vietnam could all prove fruitful for exporters.
One massive factor is the price of advertising in the APAC zone. For example, it’s far cheaper to reach millions of potential consumers in India than it is in the saturated Chinese market – for consumer goods anyhow.
Read more: New Government export strategy aims to make Britain ‘21st Century exporting superpower’
As Anand Chakravarthy, MD of Essence in India notes; “Low costs of media, as compared to many countries in the APAC region, is an advantage because in India, media costs are approximately five times lower than that of China.
“India also has a rapidly evolving digital ecosystem, with the largest base of online consumers, high mobile phone penetration and increasingly connected devices.”
India’s middle class is booming, as is the gross domestic product growth in Bangladesh.
All this suggests two great opportunities for exporters. First, the services, technology and know-how to further spur-on digital economy infrastructure and growth. Second, to cost-effectively market products and services to billions of people.
And governments in these regions are more than invested in digitech growth acceleration. As CEO of agency network MACOMM/Dentsu suggests: “The government of Bangladesh’s amicable policies towards foreign investment has already drawn strong interests from global brands such as Honda, Samsung, Alibaba, LG, CBL Munchee etc.
“All of these names have already made strong investments in manufacturing infrastructure to serve the business potentials of consumer growth of their brands.”
Read more: International marketing services
The big factor to remember for marketing exporters expanding into these regions, however, is the sheer scale. Whereas hyper-local advertising in the UK might mean adding ‘mad fer it’ to a car billboard outside Manchester Piccadilly train station, countries like India are the size of five or six countries combined. Each zone with its own customs, language, culture, food and vitally – socio-economics. Hyper-local advertising in India, therefore, means tailoring messages to be relevant for a populus residing on a land-mass the size of France or Ukraine, not Lancashire.
But with the right planning, strategy and execution, the opportunities for both service providers and product sellers are vast.
A new study has found that three-quarters of UK small and medium-sized businesses currently exporting are yet to factor in and formulate a specific post-Brexit strategy.
The report, released by the Chartered Institute of Marketing and PwC Research, warned that whilst many firms are expecting to see export volumes and revenues grow over the next three years, just 34% of those asked said they had a specific export strategy.
Brexit may have also held sway in the number of firms who stated they were unlikely to start exporting anytime soon, 59% in fact.
However, it’s not just the impending departure from the European Union that’s holding firms back. The report also quizzed businesses on the effects any skill gap has on their exporting outlook.
According to respondents, lack of skills and internal know-how was a greater barrier to exporting than tariffs, in particular with international marketing.
Thirty-three per cent also stated they lacked the confidence required to approach new markets and territories, with just 13% stating tariffs were the most off-putting barrier.
Read more: Over 5,000 UK forms paused export plans over Brexit, but are they being too cautious?
Chris Daly, CEO, Chartered Institute of Marketing said of the findings: “With Brexit approaching our research has uncovered a worrying level of complacency from British business.
“Too many firms appear to be crossing their fingers and hoping exports will continue to grow. Without a clear strategy to break into new markets, business is in for a shock when the UK leaves the European Union.
“These findings must serve as a wake-up call for businesses to think again on how they make themselves export ready.”
Opportunities and Advice
The outcome of various reports into UK SMEs and exporting attitudes has been a tale of confidence and retreat of late. Whilst the above study denotes a lack of readiness and global outlook for many, other reports indicate that firms are increasingly outward-looking in their expansion plans.
But one common line thread carries through both – the lack of in-house knowledge, experience and availability of advice to enter the international marketplace.
And that makes perfect sense. For many small firms that have made their way through the tricky early years of business and captured a slice of the local or perhaps national action, the strategy and mindset can be to sustain and recoup investment through now profitable revenues.
And with Brexit added to the mix, that might seem a wise choice.
However, leaving the European Union presents two distinct opportunities for such firms.
First, the opportunity to gain an upper hand on their competitors who may be of the mindset to sit at home and wait it out
Read more: UK SMEs planning to increase European exports despite Brexit
Second, the want to explore international markets across the globe, and not just our continental neighbours.
As Minister of State for Trade and Export Promotion, Baroness Hairhead, pointed out: “Although UK exports have grown to represent 30% of the UK’s GDP, this figure remains lower than that of other nations in Europe and close to 90% of UK businesses do not sell their products and services overseas.”
Just 10% of UK firms exporting.
Marry that with the fact that demand for ‘Made in Britain’ products and services has continued to grow, there is a huge gap and opportunity ready for those brave enough to make the first exporting step.
And when it comes to exporting advice, you’re already in the right place. See how we can open a world of opportunities here.
The World Cup in Russia has officially begun with the host nation kicking-off in style with a 5-star and five-goal performance.
All the talk in the run-up to the World Cup has been about how prepared the nation is to host such a tournament and, most importantly, the safety of those travelling into the country to cheer on their national sides.
But with all the talk of people visiting Russia, one report published recently shone a little light on how Russians are leaving the country. Not leaving for good – we’re talking travel and tourism. Luxury tourism at that.
According to the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), tourism FROM Russia is booming – up 13% in 2017 with huge increases expected this summer too – interestingly coinciding with the World Cup itself.
The luxury element comes in the form of the hotels that those travelling from Russia are booking, predominantly 4 and 5 stars. In fact, bookings in the luxury hotel bracket could be set to surge by 167% this summer.
Data from UNWTO is also backed-up by online activity from Russia, which uses Yandex as its predominant search engine.
Giulio Gargiullo, an expert in the Russian luxury sector, noted that a stabilising economy in Russia in recent months has led to an increase in Russians travelling into Europe in particular as online searches for 4 and 5-star accommodation abroad increases.
He said that: “…the number of searches carried out by Russians on Yandex, the main Russian search engine, for luxury hotels in the 4 or 5-star category (has grown). In the 5-star category, we witness a percentage increase in online searches of 167.4% between July 2016 and July 2017 with 337,700 online searches. An even greater increase is expected in the coming months, peaking in July 2018.
Read more: 5 potentially lucrative export markets
“Similarly, in the 4-star category, 107,607 online searches were carried out in July 2016 and 193,997 in July 2017 showing a percentage increase of 80.3%, and there is even greater growth in searches and online bookings for 2018 with the maximum peak occurring during the month of July.”
Spend from Russians whilst travelling abroad has also soared, splashing out $31bn worldwide last year. A figure that’s got luxury travel providers across the continent sitting up and paying notice. Perhaps making sure their websites have Russian translations available too.
Recognising emerging trends
If you offer a product or service that’s consumer-focused in particular, recognising emerging markets such as the luxury Russian tourism market can be critically important for the future growth of your business.
Why? Because your competitors may have yet seen the trend and you could steal a march on them, especially if you’re a smaller player in a saturated marketplace.
Read more: three things to consider when marketing abroad
Analysing search-trend data is a good starting point, but knowing how to quickly capitalise on an emerging opportunity is just as important.
If you’re looking for new potential markets to explore and exploit for your business, get in touch with us today and find out how we can help you not only recognise and analyse emerging trends but also quickly capitalise on them with an implementation strategy.
You’ve established your product or service, tested the waters in local markets, proved a concept, gained market position and the profit is rolling in. The next stage of growth for many companies would be to begin laying the foundations to begin exporting and trading abroad.
But to really launch a product in a different territory, a clear marketing strategy and immediate awareness campaign will be required to speak to this new audience. And whilst it may be easy to consider rolling out the exact same campaigns and strategies that won your success so far in your business’ backyard, cultural nuances, advertising regulations and brand positioning within a new market will all require thorough consideration.
But below the headier decisions over whether the lead role in a TV advert campaign needs to be recast or if the tone needs to be completely reworked for a new audience, there’s an entire digital strategy that needs to be implemented too to capitalise on gained awareness.
Here are three key digital marketing areas that can often be overlooked when marketing abroad, and they ought not to be left to the last minute:
User Language Preference
This may seem all too obvious, but understanding what language your new audience is comfortable communicating in is important.
For example, it’d be more than acceptable to expand a marketing campaign to include Wales without adding Welsh translations to the website – to begin with at any rate.
However, moving into territories where English is the second language, it pays to add first-language translations to the website, and also ensure all marketing communications are in the native language.
Why does it matter if the audience can read in English anyway?
For two reasons. First, it shows your business genuinely cares about engaging with that audience, that you understand how they like to do things and you’ve tailored your marketing comms and website experience accordingly.
Second, it adds an element of trust – but only if translations are done to a native standard. No offer of a translation looks lazy and can instil mistrust – fatal to e-commerce businesses in particular. But poor translations look amateurish and will result in the same outcome.
Understand how your new audience likes to communicate and tailor your user experience accordingly.
User Device Preference
There’s a common phrase in modern website design called ‘mobile-first’ – the idea that digital experiences should be created with a view to the user’s experience when consuming content via a mobile device – over designing expansive desktop experiences and attempting to tailor them down for a mobile audience.
In reality, this does ring true overall and it makes good design and UX sense to create engaging mobile experiences on-top of desktop and tablet ones too. Mobile loading speed, for example, is a direct Google ranking factor. But it doesn’t hurt to understand where it is your new audience is likely to consume your content and engage with your brand online.
A specific area in which this may affect marketing approach is in the form of app marketing. For example, in a zone where mobile telecoms infrastructure is generally poor, the country is less developed or the general population doesn’t own the latest smartphones with fast internet access, going all-in with a new app into the market or proportioning big marketing spend into the promotion of said app may prove unfruitful.
Understand where your new audience lives online
Much like with the above, just because you’ve had great success reaching your audience via certain channels at home, doesn’t mean those same channels are going to prove fruitful when you start marketing abroad.
Why? Because those channels and platforms may not be where your new audience lives online.
The first platform that springs to mind is of course, which search engine are your customers using? Despite that on a global level, Google dominates this market with a 91% market or ‘search share’, that doesn’t mean there aren’t regional fluctuations.
For example, in Russia, Yandex RU holds most market share at just under 54%, followed by Google with 43%. In the Asian search market, Baidu and Yahoo make up over 4% of the market, whilst in Mexico, a tiny percentage of users still browse the internet using Ask Jeeves and MSN!
And don’t forget those smaller, less competitive browsers too. For example, Bing and Yahoo with a combined 5.2% worldwide market share shouldn’t be discounted, with the former often offering cheaper CPAs via its ads platform.
And also consider which social media platforms are most relevant for targeting this new audience as well. Whilst Facebook dominates worldwide with 70% market share, Twitter, for example, is far more popular in the UK than it is in the U.S. with 15% market share compared to 6%. In fact, Pinterest is the second major player across the pond with 23.5% market share.
You can start to target your target audience and understand how your current website is performing by introducing marketing software to your sales tools.
Overall across Asia, YouTube is the second largest player on 11%, whilst Chinese social users use Youku almost as much as Facebook.
If you’re expanding your business into new international markets and would like expert advice along the way, including with your digital strategy and new market research, we can help. Find out more here.