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5 tips for reaching customers on the foreign language internet

5 tips for reaching customers on the foreign language internet
Enterprise Nation
Enterprise Nation
Enterprise Nation
 

Posted: Wed 22nd Feb 2012

Going global can seem a daunting prospect for small businesses. But the internet is making it easier - and more affordable than ever - for companies to dip their toes in overseas marketing. It can also reap huge rewards by tapping into growing, and under-served, markets. Christian Arno, founder of translation company Lingo24, explains how you can span the world without leaving home.

Internet use is growing rapidly, mainly among non-English speakers. More than half of Google searches are now in other languages. While English use grew by 301.4 percent between 2000 and 2011, the number of Russian users rose by 1,825.8 percent and Arabic use soared 2501.2 percent. Chinese is expected to overtake English soon as the dominant online language. Unsurprisingly, most consumers want information in their mother tongue when buying goods. Businesses are struggling to keep up with this rapid expansion. For small companies, this means much less competition and higher returns on investment. It's easier to rise to the top of search engine rankings in other languages, simply because there's less content. And it's much cheaper to set up a website than an on-the-ground presence abroad. Of course, it's not quite as easy as running your website through Google Translate. Taking time to gain local knowledge, research the competition and target individual countries are the keys to success. Here are some tips to ensure your business doesn't get lost in translation.

1. Choose your markets carefully

While Europe might seem an obvious first step, don't forget to look further afield. There's huge growth in demand for consumer goods in China, the world's most populous nation, as well as other Asian economies, such as South Korea. If you're not sure where to start, free tools such as Google GlobalMarketFinder can identify the frequency of search keywords around the world.

2. Test the waters

Translating your entire website for each potential market can be expensive. Instead, just translate the main page and information about your bestselling products. Once you've established there is demand, you can expand the micro-site.

3. Localise your website

Ideally, register an in-country domain name for your website. Native-speaking translators and in-country localisation experts can ensure it has a local feel.  Remember, search keywords won't necessarily be direct translations of your English keywords.

4. Get your voice heard

International PR companies can get coverage on local industry websites. Social media is an increasingly valuable marketing tool. Set up separate Twitter feeds and Facebook pages for each country, and update them regularly.

5. Look after your customers

This goes without saying, but it can be tricky across a language barrier.  Most small companies can't afford a native-speaking sales team, so it's best to restrict communication to email or online forms. While you'll want to ensure replies to customers are word-perfect, you can cut costs by using a free service like Google Translate to understand the gist of incoming communications.

Hear more from Christian at Go Global

Go Global logo

Christian is the founder of professional translation services provider Lingo24. Launched in 2001, Lingo24 now has more than 160 employees spanning three continents and clients in over sixty countries. In the past twelve months, they have

translated more than 60 million words for businesses in every industry sector, including the likes of MTV and World Bank.You can meet Christian and hear his advice in person in the first of the Go Global series of free events supported by DHL and Regus at the O2 Workshop in Tottenham Court Road, London, on Wednesday, 29th February. Christian will show how to localise your website and attract online visitors from across the globe. Register here to hear more from Christian Arno in person.

 
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