After you’ve successfully established your brand and built a loyal customer base nationally, expanding internationally might be the next step to keep your business growing. Becoming a global business will be an impressive and profitable achievement.  however not all businesses are cut out for the challenge.

There are several considerations that need to be taken into account before you start selling and marketing your product overseas. Do you have a potential customer base? Will any laws require you to amend your product? Facing any unplanned costs, unexpected legal liabilities or a faulty marketing strategy could be the downfall of your international expansion before you’ve even started. With this in mind, here are five tips that will help any business successfully plan their global domination.

Modify Your Product or Service to Meet International Targets

If you’re planning on introducing your product or service overseas, it might have to undergo some modifications to meet the needs or requirements of international targets. Will you have to re-evaluate your pricing? How much will your shipping costs be? Your packaging and labelling will probably also have to be adapted to overcome any language barriers.

It’s also essential to consider the legal restraints in different countries, such as advertising laws and the import rules for the countries you’re intending to export to. Before exporting, you should read the Gov UK’s guide for businesses who are interested in selling overseas to ensure you meet all the local regulations and restrictions.

Localise Your Presence

When expanding overseas, different versions of your website will have to be created to aid functionality and allow ease of purchase by potential customers. However, it is very easy to make serious errors of judgement when localising your website. Remember, presenting your company and product or service in an unappealing or misleading way to your target market could damage your international presence before you’ve even started offering there. Fortunately, there are ways you can localise your overseas presence efficiently.

When planning your international marketing, whether it’s social media ads, keyword targeting or simply your website, it will have to be translated to ensure any language barriers are removed. Let’s face it, consumers and businesses alike should already know by now that automatic translators are rarely 100% accurate. Poorly translated text certainly isn’t acceptable for your website copy – it must be free of grammatical and spelling errors, regardless of language, to prevent potential customers from being driven away by the unprofessional appearance of the text. Ensure all copy is provided by a translator in a way that’s accurate and understandable, whilst also reflecting awareness of any cultural differences within each target market.

If you’re planning on creating an overseas SEO strategy with the intention of capturing web traffic and achieving online sales, this also needs to be localised. It’s extremely rare that directly translating keyword phrases is effective even if the users are searching for the same products or service; the keywords you rank for will vary depending on your target location. Conducting thorough market research will help you gain valuable insights into how you can adapt your SEO strategy appropriately. You should also ensure you’re engaging with your new customer base through marketing campaigns and these might require the production of content, such as infographics, surveys and blog posts that take into account any cultural expectations and differences.

Add International Tracked Phone Numbers

If you’re planning on expanding internationally, being able to track the source of your enquiries is essential for analysing call volume and identifying areas for improvement. What’s the point in investing a large proportion of your overseas marketing budget in a specific country or region if you cannot effectively calculate the return on investment (ROI)?

Although the majority of modern ecommerce businesses measure their success through digital analytics, such as conversions, purchases and click-through-rate (CTR), this doesn’t mean they have abandoned the telephone as a method of generating business.

Considering that 75% of consumers believe a phone call is the most efficient and quickest way to receive a response from a business, ignoring the vitality of phone calls could be costing you valuable insights into your customers’ sales journey. Additionally, having limited data when evaluating the success of your international marketing can make it difficult to pinpoint the source or region of those leads. Inaccurate tracking could result in your international leads becoming mixed up with the UK data leaving you in the dark over your global potential. If you have several touchpoints for a customer to contact your business before, during, or after, a purchase how can you generate a customer journey map (the patch in which a customer takes from initial reaction to purchase), to provide an equal level of service every step of the way?

International tracked telephone numbers such as those provided by Mediahawk complete the loop between digital advertising spend and sales calls within individual countries. Through international call tracking software, a unique phone number is allocated to each site visitor. For example, if your business wanted to track phone calls from the US, website visitors from this location would see a US local or toll-free telephone number which would then encourage potential customers to pick up the phone and call. International tracked telephone numbers allow your business to access data on your complete marketing response in one location, whether it’s through offline advertising, pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns, retargeting ads or email marketing, meaning you can easily compare which of these channels has attracted the highest volume of calls around the world.

Formulate a SEO and Keyword Research Strategy

When creating an SEO strategy for overseas expansion, it’s important to remember this will require a slightly different approach compared to national targets.

You can begin your initial keyword research using Google Keyword Planner. Using this tool, you can search for new keywords by entering your business’ category, website URL and any phrases that are relevant to your product or service. This data can also be targeted through language and location to ensure you’re generating the right keywords for different countries.

Once you have exported your data, you can look for existing opportunities by cross-referencing with Google Search Console. Are there any keywords in particular countries that you’re already ranking well for? This could be a great opportunity to target the low-hanging fruit keywords – these are keywords you’re already ranking in the ‘sweet spot’ (i.e. positions 5-15) for in a search engine results page (SERP). Targeting low-hanging fruit keywords is one of the quickest and most cost-effective ways to earn quick wins for your key performance indicators (KPIs) with minimal effort.

Establishing Credibility within Your Target Market

Expanding overseas inevitably means having to build a positive reputation in countries where you might not have the same levels of credibility or trust compared to selling in your home market. Although building up trust and reputation within your target market might be a long-term goal, there are certainly ways you can encourage this.

Testimonials are a powerful tool when earning trust and credibility with customers – it is your existing customers explaining to others how investing in your product or service has benefited their business. They are organic, natural and real opinions. Having testimonials on your website will significantly influence the decision of whether site visitors turn into sales and potentially loyal customers.

Showcasing and responding to reviews is also an efficient way to showcase how much your business values its customers’ opinions. According to a survey conducted by TripAdvisor, 76% of those polled show ’favourable’ to ’very favourable’ opinions of properties which  responded to online guest reviews. The flip side of this implies that failing to acknowledge your customers’ feedback could give the impression that you aren’t taking their feedback onboard. If people are impressed with what they’re seeing from your national customers, it could encourage them to shop with your business over an already established competitor within their location.

What is the difference between a testimonial and a review? With a testimonial, you choose who gives the statement, allowing you to select the ones to place on your website. On the other hand, a review of your product or service might be negative or positive and is left by all manner of customers, from the hard to please to the easily satisfied:  you are dealing with the opinions of a collective. If a customer leaves you a negative review, it should inspire you to improve your product or service further. Reach out to this customer and ask for further feedback to decrease tension and ensure you benefit and learn from this negative opinion.

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Billy Goodwin A.K.A Skaidon (my gamertag). As you can probably tell I love gaming. You will more often than not catch me with my headset on yelling online. I also love blogging, especially about the tech industry, hence the birth of the blog ' Skaidon'. Feel free to get in touch with me anytime or if you fancy a challenge add me online using 'Skaidon'.