So, your e-commerce business is booming? Once you’ve experienced considerable success in your home country, the next natural step is to expand. Going global is an exciting move for any entrepreneur, but it’s not a simple process. It’s a matter of high risk and high reward. However, you can minimise the risk through optimal preparation.
The last thing you should do is make broad assumptions about your new target market. Chances are, they speak a different language, have a different currency, and possess different spending habits, not to mention cultural differences. Before making a move, you need to consider several key factors. Is your new market familiar with your product? If not, is it something they’ll want to buy? Is there a suitable infrastructure in place to distribute your product? Do you have the means to communicate in the native language?
In this article, we’ll present five major mistakes to avoid when gearing up to go international. Avoiding these faux pas will make the process as smooth as possible.
1: TAKING TRANSLATION FOR GRANTED
Translating from one language to another might seem easy enough. It’s something Google can do, right? Not quite. Accurate translation is key to building a solid rapport with your customers and the market as a whole. There are seven common mistakes that businesses tend to make when it comes to translation. These include using online translation generators, using non-native translators, and not localising content. Even large multinational companies have fallen victim to these easily avoidable errors.
Achieving excellent translation isn’t as simple as converting one word after the other and hoping for the best. Translators need to consider sentence structure, tone, and the target audience. This is why online translation generators don’t hit the mark. These services produce text that lacks personality, voice, and syntax.
It’s essential for businesses to recruit a team of professional translators. Skilled employees will build a bridge between your business and its target market. Native translators are the most effective way to ensure proper communication. Not only will they provide superior grammar and structure, but they’ll also excel at localising content.
Native translators have a greater understanding of local phrases and slang words. These factors make the text more relevant to specific audiences. Skilled native translators can even customise the text to appeal to particular regions within a country.
An example of this is word variation within the same language: A text localised to the United States would refer to athletic footwear as “sneakers”. In the United Kingdom, translators would instead use the word “trainers”. Localisation is an effective way to embrace your target customers, as opposed to isolating them.
2: FAILING TO EXECUTE MARKET RESEARCH
If you’re planning to target a foreign audience, you need to know them inside-out. Customers are attracted to content that resonates with the local culture. Market research is the process of getting to know your new audience on every level. It allows you to understand their emotions, social interactions, spending habits, and culture.
Market research involves systematically gathering and analysing data to find patterns. A comprehensive market research strategy involves primary market research, in which a business directly interacts with its customer base. This can take the form of surveys, for example. Secondary research is also paramount, especially when penetrating a new market. This involves analysing data gathered by other sources, usually in the form of consumer reports and surveys.
3: RUNNING OUT OF PROMOTIONAL PRODUCTS
An effective way to make a statement in a new market is to give away free stuff! Everybody loves a freebie. It’s a superb way to grab enough attention to secure an initial customer base. Just make sure you don’t run out. Free stuff will attract traffic, but might permanently turn away those who miss out.
But how will you know how much is enough? After a thorough bout of market research, you should have a pretty good idea of how big your target market is. If you only have a limited supply, take steps to avoid disappointing customers. Place a cap on the amount of promotional material available by launching a competition or offering a limited amount of promotional codes or coupons.
4: IGNORING NATIVE SEARCH ENGINES
Google is the dominant search engine in most Western countries. For this reason, it’s a superb tool to gather customer data. Google Analytics allows businesses some insight into website traffic. The service is free and collects data automatically. The invaluable tool also gathers insights into visitor age, gender, and location. This kind of data can determine the way you approach a new market.
However, in some countries, Google isn’t the primary search engine. For example, Yandex is king in Russia, and Baidu is the go-to search engine in China.
It’s essential to become accustomed to the primary search engine used by your new market.
5: UNDER-RESEARCHING THE COMPETITION
If you’re taking your business elsewhere, you’ll be entering occupied territory. Your new competition will already have a foothold in the market. To make sure you stand a chance, you need a good grasp of competitive marketing.
You don’t necessarily have to dislodge or replace your competition. As long as you’re providing something new and refreshing, you’ll win over customers. To begin with, it helps to understand the four P’s: product, place, promotion, and price.
If you can outcompete—or at least challenge—your competitor in these areas, you’ll make an impact. There are many ways to get the inside scoop on your competitors. Use Google Trends to discover where your visitors go to next; keep your eyes on social media promotions; ask your customers in surveys.
GO FORTH AND PROSPER
And there you have it. Keeping these 5 mistakes in mind, you will be well on your way to expanding your e-commerce business into international territory. Keep your eyes open and don’t cut corners when it comes to your content marketing.