You’ve killed it in your home market. Now you’re ready to bust your borders and take advantage of the massive opportunities of global expansion. But before you start investing in global marketing, you need to do some critical thinking. (Gut feelings and instincts have no place here.) How do you evaluate your potential in new markets?
Here are some international expansion strategies to help you determine where your company should go next.
First, analyze your markets
- Do a cost-benefit analysis. What is your expected revenue in each market? What is your anticipated spend on global marketing? Your sales team can help you forecast revenue and your language service provider (LSP) can help you estimate how much you’ll spend.
- Learn from your home-language website to identify market opportunities. Data on visitors from other countries may be your best tool for gleaning insights. Website analytics will show you where they come from and which countries offer opportunities for the highest conversion rates. Google Market Finder is another great resource for market suggestions based on a quick analysis of your website. For more tips, check out our post How to Assess the Localization Potential of Your Website [Deep Dive].
- Look to the culture. Research cultural aspects of each possible target market that could affect product takeoff. Certain products might not be acceptable or useful in other cultures, so you need to engage local research teams to provide market insights. Just because you want to enter markets all over the world doesn’t mean they will all receive you or your product with open arms.
Then, look at languages
- Snoop on competitors. See which languages they’re supporting online. They’ve done market research to choose those languages, too, so leverage what they’ve done. If they don’t feature a language you’re considering, it may be a gap in their coverage—and something you can take advantage of. Don’t let them get ahead.
- Listen carefully. Use social media to monitor what your international customers are doing and what they want. Are they looking for in-language after-sales support? Are they posting and writing reviews in their own language? Be sure to hang out in the social media channels appropriate for their country or region (hint: it’s not Facebook everywhere).
- Prioritize languages. Once you decide which languages to target, choose just a few to start with. Localize your content into those languages, release it in your new markets and measure the results. Iron out any kinks and go from there. That first effort will give you lessons learned to apply to additional languages in the future. Succeed (or fail) in those initial markets and learn from your results.
- Consider comfort with English. Some populations (such as in Europe where lots of people are bilingual) might be just fine interacting in English. That means you can eliminate the need to translate content altogether, or put it as a lower priority. They will still prefer content in their own language, but business can be conducted in English.
- These tips are a good starting point for thinking about how to expand your business into new markets. But it’s also a good idea to use other people’s wisdom. Always ask your LSP for advice: global digital marketing and localization companies think about these issues all day. They’re the best subject matter experts out there and should be an excellent resource for deciding what global business opportunities you should invest in.
If you’ve experienced success in your home market and want to grow your revenue further, then taking your product to new markets is the next logical step. These tips can help you make better-informed decisions and refine your strategy to use language to dominate in new markets.
Not sure which languages to target first? Check out our related blog post: Smart Guide to Selecting Languages for Localization.