Posted: Thu 27th Jul 2023
Having a strong online presence is essential for any SME that wants to expand internationally. In today's digital age, your online presence not only helps your overseas customers discover you, but it also makes you legitimate, genuine and trustworthy in their eyes.
One of the key benefits of having a well-defined digital presence is that it allows you to market your business 24/7. Unlike traditional marketing methods, your website and social channels are always available for potential customers to explore, even outside business hours. This constant availability increases your chances of an international audience finding you.
A strong online presence also saves you money in the long run. While traditional advertising methods may require a significant budget, digital marketing strategies like search engine optimisation (SEO) and social media marketing can be cost-effective and yield higher returns on investment (ROI).
Furthermore, a well-established online presence enhances the customer journey. From when the customer carries out initial research to when they finally decide to make a purchase, being present at those different touchpoints allows you to guide them seamlessly through the buyer's journey. Engaging content, informative blog posts, and positive customer reviews help to build trust and encourage conversions.
Ways to strengthen your online presence
There are several proven tactics you can employ.
Search engine optimisation (SEO): By optimising your website with relevant keywords and high-quality content, you increase your chances of ranking higher in search engine results. This makes it easier for potential customers to find you when they search for products or services related to your business. It also helps you earn Google's trust.
Social media marketing: With the increasing number of social media platforms available, having a social media presence is absolutely crucial. By creating engaging content and actively interacting with your audience, you can not only attract new customers in overseas markets, but retain them too. Your social channels also allow you to build brand awareness and establish a sense of trust with your target markets.
Content marketing: By consistently creating valuable and informative blog posts, you can establish yourself as an expert in your industry. This helps to build credibility and attract potential customers who are seeking information and solutions.
A subscription platform that helps you identify opportunities for growth, find skilled labour, build connections and more. Start your journey towards international growth and sign up to the free Explore tier today
How your website helps you define your digital presence
To give your business the strong digital presence it needs to thrive in foreign markets, you simply must have a website. Many consumers won't even consider buying from a business if it lacks one. As a result, it's vital that you optimise your website so it becomes the first point of contact for potential customers abroad.
First and foremost, focus on making your website user-friendly. This means designing it in a way that's easy to navigate and visually appealing. Make sure it loads quickly and is mobile responsive, as nowadays a large percentage of people are accessing the internet through their smartphones rather than their computers.
Next, provide relevant and valuable information on your website. This includes:
detailed descriptions of your product or service
Be sure to include a clear call-to-action, such as a "contact us" button or a form for visitors to submit their enquiries.
Optimising your website for search engines such as Google will improve its visibility. Do keyword research and include relevant keywords in your website's content, meta tags and URLs. This will help search engines recognise your website as a relevant result when potential customers are searching.
Regularly update your website with fresh content, such as blog posts, news articles or videos. This not only provides value to your audience but also boosts your search engine rankings.
Lastly, integrate your website with your social media profiles and other online channels. This allows potential customers to easily navigate between your website and social media platforms, increasing your online visibility and engagement.
How your social media helps you define your digital presence
Harnessing the power of social media platforms is a vital part of any SME's marketing. Platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok, YouTube and LinkedIn offer diverse user demographics and require different strategies.
Crafting a competitive social media presence starts with understanding the platform's audience.
Facebook connects you with a wide range of potential customers.
Instagram and TikTok are visually focused platforms for reaching younger demographics.
Twitter is great for real-time updates and engaging with customers.
YouTube allows you to showcase video content in various formats.
LinkedIn is ideal for professional networking and B2B (business-to-business) marketing.
To stand out on social media, you need to develop a consistent brand voice, aesthetic and storytelling approach. Engage with your audience by responding to comments and messages promptly. Create shareable and visually appealing content to increase your reach. Collaborate with influencers in your industry to expand that reach.
Use hashtags strategically to make your business more discoverable and to join relevant conversations. Take advantage of analytics tools (such as Google Analytics) to measure the success of your social media efforts and adjust your strategies accordingly.
If you have the budget, invest in paid social media advertising to amplify your message and target specific audiences in foreign markets.
Download our free Go Global guides
How to make your business visible to an international audience
Expanding your business internationally and targeting an international audience means stepping out of your comfort zone and embracing new opportunities.
One of the key strategies to achieve this is by leveraging digital technologies and tools. The internet has connected people and businesses from all corners of the world, making it easier than ever to reach potential customers in foreign markets.
With your website, you can use country-specific domain extensions (for example, .fr, .de and so on) and design elements to resonate with, and build trust and credibility among, your international audience.
Hosting your website on servers located in the target country can improve loading speed and local search rankings, while geo-location features can automatically direct users to the appropriate language and content based on their location.
Another tactic is to localise your marketing efforts. Translate your website and marketing materials into the local language and adapt your messaging to align with cultural preferences and sensitivities. Hire professional translators to translate your website and other marketing materials accurately. Avoid machine translation, as it can result in errors and misunderstandings.
It's important to continuously measure your results and adapt your strategies accordingly, making sure you're optimising your marketing efforts to cater to the preferences of your international audience.
About Go Global
Kickstart your international trading with this free programme of support from Santander and Enterprise Nation. Take me to the international trade hub