Serving an international customer is no longer as difficult as it used to be. According to one study, 82 percent of shoppers made at least one purchase from an international merchant in a calendar year.But filling the occasional overseas order isn’t the same as having a truly international presence. Expanding to a new market requires boots on the ground to ensure you understand the unique nature of consumption patterns, marketing strategies and business laws.
Here are some lessons and strategies you can adopt.
Research your target market.
This is perhaps the most important step in the process. Researching the local market will help you understand whether it’s a good idea to enter a specific country. Strategic research on the potential customer base and current market conditions is just the beginning. As yourself two questions.
- What kind of local adjustments will you need to make (and what will they take)?
- Are there any local legal limitations to your product or business model?
The answers can make or break your decision to move forward with the expansion. User-behavior research also can provide useful insights that influence your strategies. Expedia didn’t enter the Japanese market until much later, due to the way Japanese plan their travel and the expectations they bring to a tour.
Hire the right people.
It is important to hire local employees who also can speak your language. It’s especially crucial to hire a local employee for every new target market. This person should have a deep understanding of the culture and market so she or he quickly can identify product tweaks or customer-experience aspects that must adjust for the environment. If you cannot hire a local employee for a one-time project,you should at the very least find a local consultant who can ensure you don’t overlook anything significant.
Local marketing is everything.
Successful expansion depends on nailing a local-marketing strategy. We believe international SEO is extremely vital to international expansion. We stress the importance of choosing correct hreflang tags, URL and domain structure from the get-go. These are critical not only from the SEO perspective but also to hit your branding and business goals over the long run. Stolpner considers the right hreflang tags the very beginning of international SEO for new, local websites. He urges that all other marketing efforts must follow to rank well in these fresh markets.
Your local employees can help advise your marketing strategies, informing you of cultural differences that will inform how you approach the market and through which medium.