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Global Business Strategies: 5 Tips for Marketing Abroad

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Global Business Strategies: 5 Tips for Marketing Abroad

Happy (almost) spring! As we head into the new season, it’s a great time to reflect on progress and renew objectives for the remainder of the year.

As a business, what are your goals? We hear a consistent theme in our customers’ answers—not to mention a fitting one for spring—and that’s growth. Here at SurveyMonkey, a huge part of our growth priority is international, which has always been important to us.

Take these stats for example. Five years ago, 85% of SurveyMonkey’s business was done in English. Today, we support 17 languages and 28 currencies. Our business is 55% English—and we’re on the road to 25%.

We’re not the only ones who have been growing a global business. In 2013, 9 out of 10 of the top Internet companies were U.S.-based and 79% of their customers were international. Just a year later, 6 out of 10 companies were U.S.-based and their percentage of international users crept down to 86%.

But marketing internationally isn’t always easy, so we’ll share a few lessons we’ve learned while expanding our reach across the world.

5 pointers for international growth

1. Be flexible when it comes to payments. When in Rome, do as the Romans do. 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 and get back a unique, secure code from their bank to complete the transaction.

This might seem strange to people in the United States, but 60% of people in the world do this every time they pay for something online. Turns out there’s a lot more to managing payments internationally than navigating different currencies and taxes.

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

2. Do your research. While Google may be the most popular search engine, you have to look further when you’re building a global business. Regionally speaking, Yandex is a more relevant search engine to Russians, Naver better known to Koreans, and most Japanese people use Yahoo.

The same goes for mobile. While Android’s market share in the U.S. is 52%, its share globally is 84%. And in Asia, 75% of SurveyMonkey’s own traffic is mobile right now. Keep these types of data points in mind when deciding how to tackle a region and scale internationally.

3. Always be testing. Domestic market trends by themselves are moving targets, but things get even trickier when you go international.

It takes constant testing to find 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 all of these languages, we can look to the data, analytics, and net results to help us drive these tests.

4. Speak their language. When it comes to SEO, little differences in wording can be huge—and that’s especially true of international SEO.

We got a great lesson in this when we were researching search results related to the keyword “umfrage” (that’s “survey” in German). When we compared the performance of keywords “umfrageonline” 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 of terms when we’re translating.

5. Plan thoroughly. Even if you’re not making a huge leap into international growth just yet, it’s never a bad idea to start preparing early. You’ll need international-specific content for SEO, versatile marketing copy that works across countries, multiple payment providers, helpful partnerships—and that’s just the beginning.

But if building a global business is on your business’s agenda, being strategic about international marketing will help you meet that goal—and ultimately reach a larger audience around the world.

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