Three Crucial Components of a Successful International Business Growth Strategy

According to Internet Live Stats, around 40% of the world’s population has an internet connection. This gives your business the opportunity to appear in front of literally billions of people!

Of course, growing your business internationally is about far more than simply being able to reach the four corners of the global map. It also goes beyond simply making your business message accessible in the languages you’re trying to reach. Yes, there’s a lot of work to be done if you want your international online strategy to succeed.

During our time on the Startup Bus, we were frequently asked “what is the best way to grow your business overseas?”. Well today, we’re going to look at not one, but three areas you should be looking at if you want to grow your business internationally. These go beyond the most basic component of simply translating your business message into the language(s) of the audience(s) you’re trying to reach:

  1. International SEO
  2. Brand Awareness Via Social Media
  3. Cultural Sensitivity & Localisation

Part One: Building an International SEO Strategy

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is a key part of any good online marketing strategy, and is the art of making sure your content gets picked up and listed by search engines. It will play an important part of your international online growth strategy, and it starts with Google Analytics.

Google Analytics can be helpful from the very beginning, by showing you which new markets might be the best to target. For example, if you are selling a product or service in the UK, but your Google Analytics account shows you that you’re starting to receive orders from other countries, then this is a great indication of which countries to start targetting more seriously through international SEO, AKA geotargeting.

Once you have a list of countries you might wish to target, you should begin making an effort to tweak your SEO operations to include the primary languages spoken in these countries. This involves creating content specifically for these languages, ensuring that it is not just translated, but also localised (more on this later). For example, if your SEO efforts target the keyphrase “hiking boots”, this is highly unlikely to attract a German audience, for the simple reason that “hiking boots” is not a common search term for German-speaking prospects. Create content that targets what German-speaking prospects may be searching for, and use Google Analytics to work out which keywords and phrases are working for each foreign language you target.

There’s a lot more to International SEO than simply identifying your ideal markets and then creating geo-targeted content, but these are great places to start.

Part Two: Creating International Brand Awareness Via Social Media

International SEO is an important part of your international growth strategy, but it is not sustainable as a standalone process. Attracting foreign prospects is one thing, but if you want your strategy to have long-term success, you’ll need to establish your brand in the hearts of your prospects. One way to do this is by developing an international Social Media strategy.

The first pitfall many growing businesses face is choosing the right channel. You might assume that because Facebook and Twitter are popular in your country, they are popular all over the world – but this isn’t always true. For example, did you know that Facebook is blocked in China? And while it isn’t blocked in Russia, social network users tend to use sites like V Kontakte and Odnoklassniki. If you want to create a successful social media strategy that will help you establish your brand in another country, you need to choose the platforms your target audience uses the most – and it’s your job to find out what these platforms are!

The rest of your international social media strategy works much in the same way as any social  media strategy – create engaging content that encourages interaction and brand adoption. Of course, when you’re dealing with a foreign audience, this isn’t as simple as translating your existing initiatives – you’ll need to ensure your content is well-researched, targeted and localised. This brings us nicely onto the third – and possibly most important – part of this article: Creating localised content with cultural sensitivity in mind.

Part Three: Creating Localised Content with Cultural Sensitivity in Mind

Just because somebody understands what you are saying doesn’t mean it makes them excited. What might work for your local audience could have the opposite effect with a foreign audience. It could even go as far as causing offence.

For this reason, content localisation and cultural sensitivity should be your number one priority when creating content for consumption by an international audience.

Did you know..?

  1. Urdu-speaking gamers prefer racing games to strategy games
  2. Baidu is more popular in China than Google
  3. CNN has a completely different programming structure for Latinos in the U.S

Localisation and cultural sensitivity goes beyond just the language you’re using. It involves colour, layout, humour and more. Here are a few bits of good advice regarding localisation:

  1. Adapt graphics to suit your target markets.

A good example of this in action is Red Bull’s website.

Take a look at the English version of their website.

Now take a look at the Spanish version.

Can you spot the difference?

2. Modify the content to suit the tastes of your target markets

An example of this in action is our own website, Translate Your Business. Our professional translation and localisation team modified our website to suit both the English-speaking and the Polish-speaking markets. Unless you are bi-lingual, you might not notice the difference. We even went as far as creating two live webinars, one for each language – this helped us to establish trust with both audiences and win happy, paying customers from each market segment.

3. Adapt design and layout for multiple languages

When designing a website for multiple languages, it’s important to engage with developers who can design websites in order to properly display the translated text, as some languages can take up more space than others. For example German, English and Chinese tend to be quite compact, but begin to take up more space as they are translated into other languages. Allowing a website layout to expand and contract depending on the length of the target language will provide your international users with an experience they enjoy far more than one where the text seems hastily stuffed onto the page.

Here are a few other important things to consider – many of these are overlooked, but they are simple tweaks that can win you a lot of business:

  • Convert to local currencies and units of measure
  • Use proper local formats for dates, addresses and phone numbers
  • Address local regulations and legal requirements

There’s a lot more to localisation. Why not find out how localisation can help you achieve international success?

NataliaSkorczewska-TYB-formalAbout Natalia 

Natalia is the Founder and Managing Director of Translate Your Business. Translate Your Business helps business owners expand their business internationally, by offering website translation and localisation, international SEO, and digital marketing services. Learn more by visiting their website here: