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5 Tips for Growing Your Business Internationally

5 Tips for Growing Your Business Internationally

SurveyMonkey Going GlobalAs a business, what are your goals? What we hear from our customers is a consistent theme—and that’s growth.

At SurveyMonkey, a huge part of our growth priority is international, which is and continues to be important to us.

Our business is 55% US-based—and we want to make it 25%. And we’re not the only ones who have been thinking globally.

In 2013, 9 out of 10 of the top internet companies were US based and 79% of their customers were international. Just a year later, 6 out of 10 companies were US based and 86% of their users were international.

But marketing internationally is no picnic. Here are five key lessons we’ve learned while globally expanding our reach.

Be flexible when it comes to payments

When in Rome, do as the Romans. When in Germany, don’t expect to always make transactions with credit cards.

Most Germans prefer bank transfers—and the same goes for most people on the planet.

In the Netherlands, people carry around small calculators with them wherever they go. Why? When they want to make an online payment, they type it into the calculator, getting back a unique, secure code from their bank to use with the payment.

This might seem strange to people in the United States, but 60% of people on the planet do this every time they make an online transaction.

This shows that making payments work internationally can be a lot more complex than navigating different currencies and taxes.

You’ve got to be super flexible to make your payments systems work around the world, and you should plan on having multiple payment service providers in the future. It’s also super important you make sure your technology and product teams can accommodate this.

Do your research

While Google may be the most popular search engine, you’ve got look further when you’re expanding internationally. Regionally speaking, Yandex is a more search engine relevant to Russians, Naver better known to Koreans, and most Japanese people use Yahoo.

The same goes for mobile. While Android market share in the U.S. is 52%, its share globally is 84%. And in Asia, 75% of SurveyMonkey’s traffic is mobile right now.

These types of data points can really affect how you tackle a region and scale internationally.

Always be testing

Domestic market trends by themselves are moving targets. Things get even more complex when you go international. It takes constant testing to find out what is (and will be) effective in different markets. That means tweaking mobile flows, messaging, landing pages—you name it.

And while we can’t speak to all of these languages, we look to the data, analytics and net results to help drive these tests.

Partner to go international

We’ve leveraged a lot of third parties to make going international easier.

  • We shifted our content to WordPress which let us hyper-localize our content
  • We’ve used Smartling’s technology to do smart automation of some of our translation
  • Our online marketing agency, 3Q, has helped us optimize our paid search, display, social, landing page optimization and creative for international markets

Speak their language

When it comes to SEO, little differences can be big differences. And that’s especially true of international SEO.

We learned a great lesson in this researching search results related to the keyword umfrage (that’s “survey” in German), we found the value of focusing on colloquial and localized use. When we compared the performance of keywords unfrageonline to umfrage-online and umfrage online, the second two had 250 times more results than the first.

Examples like this teach us to find and focus on colloquial and localized uses when translating.

From 2013 to 2014, SurveyMonkey shifted its mix of internationally acquired SEM from 46% to 66%, consistently growing its number of conversions along the way.

Be ready for anything

Even if you’re not going global, or if you’re just beginning to skim the surface, start planning now. You’re going to need international-specific content for SEO. You’re going to need multiple payment providers. Your marketing copy should be acceptable in multiple markets. And that’s just to start.

Probably the most important thing is to have good partners that will help you as you learn the ins and outs of scaling internationally.

Questions, comments on how to grow globally? Leave them below!

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