You have a successful product in one or a handful of countries—that’s amazing! However, it doesn’t guarantee that this same product will be successful abroad. Cultural values, attitudes, and norms differ across countries, sometimes even within the same country. You may discover cultural aspects of a region you’re interested in that require you to modify your marketing content or sales approaches, for instance.
Different languages are a vital factor to consider, although it’s often an overlooked one. For instance, although 52% of all websites are in English, it only reaches 25% of all internet users. If your website and communications aren’t available in the languages spoken in your target regions, or worse, are poorly translated, it will be impossible to engage these prospects. Therefore, using Google Translate for all your content and simply hoping for the best is simply not good enough. Here are a few things to consider when creating content for new markets:
- Cultural differences which may require some tweaking in terms of messaging
- Languages and dialects spoken which may be (wrongly) overlooked as unimportant
- Buying and research behaviors which can help you know where to start if you have a backlog of content
- Currencies, as the right one needs to appear based on the users’ location
- Regional regulations which may require you to translate specific content, such as manuals, before even being able to enter the market
Imagine the following scenario: you’re a US-based company that wants to expand into Canada. A French Canadian-speaking prospect ends up on one of your landing pages, which has been translated into French. They want to find out more, only to realize the rest of your website is only available in English. They look for additional information, user guides or marketing materials—also only available in English. If they still haven’t left the website by this point (which is unlikely), they may send an email requesting more information. If the follow-up is not in French, then you have most probably lost that prospect for good.
The consumer experience described above results in an immediate disconnect between what the customer wants, needs and expects, and what you are willing to provide. It sends the message that your brand is uninterested in them or their preferences, and that you lack the resources to meet their needs. Why, then, would they be interested in doing business with you? Studies have shown that 87% of customers would not buy from an English-only website.
Positive customer experience, particularly in new markets where your brand hasn’t been established yet, is the key to improving product adoption along with customer-retention rates. Plus, happy customers are likely to tell others about your company or product, assisting you in the growth of your customer base. Relationship-building is a long-term success strategy, not a quick fix.
Research is key and, whenever possible, having someone on board with experience in these markets and their cultural differences to advise you on the dos and don’ts would be ideal. For instance, some cultures will prefer more direct and explicit forms of communications, which may impact how you frame your messaging for marketing, sales and customer engagement. These all need to be adapted to the culture of your new audience before entering a new market. This strategic way of translating content is called localization.
A successful localization program will drive success when trying to enter new markets. That way, content can be optimized for the languages spoken, with links to translated pages or dynamic content that changes when certain locations are recognized.
While entering new markets is a proven growth strategy and can be the ideal solution when faced with economic uncertainty, it needs to be done the right way. To ensure successful product adoption, the content that your target audience is likely to want to interact with needs to be in the right language, but also adapted to their culture. To do so, having a well-thought-out localization strategy and the right technology in place is vital to your success.