In international business your clients will look for you online because they expect a certain form of communication online from an international business. But they’ll need to find you online first and this is why search marketing is critical for your international marketing success today.
I recently came back from a trip to Toronto where I attended the Search Engine Strategies Conference. At the summit much of the talk on international search was about language and how many people fail to get the “translation” right for search marketing and this causes businesses to lose money.
But international marketers know that language is just the visible part of the challenge. Mastering the navigation among different languages while keeping your business focus requires a deeper skill set. And beyond this, there are the fundamental cross-cultural challenges of doing business with people who are different to your home market. This is where businesses are challenged to deepen their knowledge of marketing and how to learn about their own markets.
With this is mind, here are five tips for successful international search marketing that go beyond language skills and translation.
#1: Get To Know Your International Audiences
This is where your international business begins. People from different cultures are different. There are often opposing differences in how people like to do business. You can’t expect to connect with people in any meaningful manner unless you understand them well.
First you need to research your market. You also need to stimulate as much feedback as you can from each of your international markets. And while doing both of these you need to adopt a sort of cross-cultural lens to ensure that you come to the right conclusions.
Understanding your international audience starts with language and communication, but you also need cross-cultural competency to connect on a level deep enough to develop an international business.
#2: Get Your Research Right
There are a few ways where you can get your research wrong right from the beginning.
- How you carry out your international search marketing campaign will depend on your business objectives. You’ll have different strategies for branding, selling products or qualifying leads. And you’ll need to adapt the research you carry out for each of these different business objectives.
- There are a variety of reasons why it’s not always easy to interpret statistics and research in an international context. Most of these reasons relate back to cultural differences, different ways of doing things and differences in markets. Although you may get more traffic from one country, your best business opportunities may be within another country.
- These cultural differences also impact language translations. The translations you use may not be the ones you need to obtain the information you need. This is why you need a local marketer to help find the right keywords to use. There are jobs where you absolutely must use humans… and humans with the right professional background.
- And to complicate things, you also need to have a good understanding of how local markets use the web in your particular industry. The web continues to evolve for everyone and you need to have this local knowledge to get your international search marketing right.
It’s not easy to research international markets without actual international business experience and local expertise in both your particular market and in search marketing. You can save time and avoid potential blunders by working with people with these skills. If you don’t have this option, start small, take your time doing your international market research, and above all question all of your own assumptions. (Learning how to recognize your assumptions is a skill by itself.)
#3: Learn About Local Search Engines
The Google algorithm is used by most of the search engines out there. The only exceptions are for a few countries with non-Latin alphabets. It’s easy enough to find out the leading search engines in the countries you are targeting. But don’t assume that just because they use the same Google algorithm as you are used to in your own country that everything’s the same.
Spend a bit of time looking at how the local search engines work and monitor this regularly. Keep your search marketer’s hat on while doing this and you’ll probably notice some little differences. Use these little differences can help you strengthen your own international search marketing campaigns.
It’s often easier to rank for keywords in countries outside of the US, simply because there is less content, which means less competition for those keywords. So you need some fine skills in analyzing which keywords to target in different countries.
#4: Use Multiple Competencies
Language competency is essential to getting good international search results. But so is are good marketing skills, and marketing skills are needed both in understanding the local market and also in how this is applied online specifically for search marketing. This is why a successful international search marketing campaign is the fruit of good:
- Search marketing
- Local marketing expertise in your industry
Keep this in mind. You don’t want to rely solely on a translator or a search marketer or a local marketing expert. You’ll need to find the right balance within your international marketing team.
#5: Invest In Localization
This is just a reminder… For best results you’ll always need to have a localized web presence and this means:
- Local language content
- Local web host
- Local domain registered locally
- Local currency
- Local address and shipping practices
- Local physical address
- And anything else that’s specific to your industry that needs to be local
Although it’s usually not possible to begin with 100% localization, you should keep striving towards this goal. Think local until it becomes second nature and you’ll get better results from your international marketing.
Now it’s your turn…
- What tips can you share for successful international search marketing?
- How important is search marketing to your international business success?
- How does language impact your current international search marketing results?
What do you think? Please share your thoughts and comments below.
Photos from Shutterstock.
Filed under: International Marketing
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