Marketing is an incredibly competitive game in most sectors with plenty of pitfalls. But there are arguably more potential pitfalls when you’re based in one country and marketing to overseas audiences.
Language, cultural nuances and even product or service resonance can differ hugely from one country to another. So just how do you go about making sure your marketing message is right when you’re marketing to overseas customers without a local team in place? We asked the businesses actually doing it.
Gianluca Atzeri, Charmingitaly.com
We are based in Italy and we market to customers all over the world using our websites charmingpuglia.com and charmingsardinia.com. It’s important to consider the translations and ensure these are accurate. But also to make it clear what benefit it brings to the customer for us to be based outside their country.
We sell Italian experiences and holidays, so for us, being based in Italy makes sense. We know the country, we know how to get authentic experiences, enjoy off the beaten track sights and eat truly beautiful food. Our first hand knowledge gives us an advantage of travel agents based in the UK or USA. So it’s important we convey that message to potential customers. It’s a really big USP.
Faye Nash, Dancewear Central
We opted to get country specific TLDs and build separate websites for our activity in both France and Germany. So on top of dancewearcentral.co.uk, we have a .fr and a .de version. It allows us, importantly, to ensure we have a website that is tailored very specifically for each market.
Of course your translations have to be of a superb quality. But tailoring a website to another overseas market doesn’t just mean translating it. Another key point to consider is the payment method you accept. Don’t make the mistake of assuming that the payment methods you use in the UK will be appropriate overseas.
And finally, the market trends could differ completely to the UK. It’s ideal to ensure you are able to merchandise your products individually for each territory you market in. That’s absolutely vital.
Ben Mosalski, Alpari.org
As a large multinational organisation, Alpari is in the fortunate position of being able to adopt the approach of having strategy partnerships in many of the territories we market to. With something as complex are Forex, I think it’s really important to have access to local resource.
For a start, there are different compliance regulations around the world for us and we need to work with people who understand these inherently. And secondly, the market varies in maturity from country to country. The only way to truly understand the customer in something like this, is to have partnerships with local teams.
I think that is imperative with an offering like ours. Perhaps less so with less complicated consumer products.
Launching a website targeting overseas users? Top tips:
So if you are planning to launch a website targeting overseas users, here are a few tips:
- Consider the setup from a technical perspective with regards to your website. You could have completely separate websites (like dancewearcentral.co.uk, .fr and .de in the above example) or you could use subdomains (fr.mywebsite.com). Alternatively, you could use subfolders (mywebsite.com/fr). Each has its pros and cons from a management, maintenance and SEO perspective, so do your homework before deciding on which setup you prefer.
- Use a good translator or translation agency. Don’t default to Google Translate if you’re serious about selling overseas. Bad translations kill credibility.
- Research market trends and seasonal patterns before launching and tailor your merchandising as you see fit.
- Research payment methods and ensure you’re accepting payment methods that are widely used in the target country.
- Don’t forget to check for any compliance, finance or other regulations you have to adhere to when selling to consumers in your target country