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  November 6th, 2015 | Written by

Three Tips to Supercharge Your Online International Marketing

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  • Anemic marketing will doom global business websites to failure.
  • Marketing is a different game abroad; your company must craft unique messaging.
  • International SEO requires similar, yet different, skills and tools than primary-market English websites.
  • Testing website personalizations can deliver incremental boosts that generate large revenues for a site.

These days, the fastest and most economical way companies can penetrate new international markets is through the internet. And launching localized websites, in global consumers’ languages of choice, is the easiest way to do it.

Unfortunately, companies often abandon this global strategy when it doesn’t generate immediate results. These business are mystified by the outcome—they performed their due diligence, researched the opportunity, and dutifully launched a localized website. What went wrong?

In all likelihood, they were missing a critical ingredient: marketing.

Website translation projects are often assigned to a company’s IT, communications or ecommerce teams. These teams competently achieve the goal—launch a localized site—but they quickly shift focus to other items on their miles-long “to do” lists.

Doing so can swiftly doom a global online initiative. After all, new customers will never seek out your product or service if they don’t know it exists. And so, due to anemic marketing efforts, global sites generate very little traffic and even less revenue. They provide no value to the business.

There are several smart and economical ways to avoid this fate. Here are three strategies your company can embrace that, when executed properly, deliver great results in overseas online markets.

Email marketing. Your business undoubtedly has a successful English-language email marketing strategy already in place, but translating those primary-market English emails won’t be enough.

Your brand may be starting from near zero in international markets. Marketing is a different game abroad. Your company must craft unique messaging that builds its reputation, and consumers’ trust in these new markets.

In the case of one company, its email conversion rate was 10 percent for its English website but the traffic generated by these emails was less than one percent. Only English-speaking users who were really engaged with the brand were driving email-based revenue to the site.

Email traffic for this client’s French, German, and Spanish sites fluctuated between eight and 11 percent and conversion rates ranged from 2.49 to 3.29 percent. Our conclusion: The company’s email strategy successfully drove users to its international sites, suggesting consumer curiosity. But the comparatively lower conversion rates indicated the company needed further investment in gaining local user trust.

Email strategies in Russia, Latin America, and Eastern Europe are especially effective. These markets always deliver high open rates. If you want to capitalize on the curiosity of these international customers, be sure to make your messages clear, engaging, and local.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO). International SEO requires a similar, yet different, set of skills and tools than primary-market English websites. First, Google is not the top search engine in many important markets, so a fluency in regional search engines is a must. Publishing high-quality content is an SEO best practice, no matter the market or language. Maintaining a content-rich website with a great user experience signals to new global customers—and their regional search engines—that your localized website is an authority and can be trusted.

Keyword strategy is also different in international markets. In mature markets, companies almost always benefit from using branded keywords. In emerging markets success hinges more on words based on products, services, or long-tail keywords. Don’t bang the drum for your brand in overseas markets at first. Tout products and services first.

Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO). Localization and personalization—two tactics that deliver CRO—have become worthy investments for many companies. Many businesses test at least a dozen personalization variations on any given day.

Many of these tests deliver miniscule improvements to conversion rates; sometimes measured in the tenths of a percent. But these incremental boosts can generate large revenues for a site.

This kind of personalization is possible for global markets, too. Here, it’s especially important to know the local consumers and culture, and adapt the localized site to feel like an authentically local website.

For instance: Suppose your company is a recognized brand in France, and you operate a localized Spanish site for the Latin American market. It’s late spring in France, and so you create a campaign to promote bathing suits. Summer is coming, after all.

This promotion won’t just fail in Argentina—it’ll make your brand a laughing stock there. Argentinian users won’t appreciate that kind of campaign, as that market is approaching winter during that time of the year!


Charles Whiteman is senior vice president of client services at MotionPoint Corporation, the world’s #1 enterprise localization platform. He may be reached at