Scaling to a global market can primarily benefit companies engaged in selling items without being tied to a certain location, as well as companies offering digital products. This includes, among others, software providers, mobile app developers, and various startup projects.
Entering into new markets helps online businesses increase sales, improve conversion rates, and grow revenue. Take for example: if a company starts with up to 100 million potential customers in the Russian-speaking segment of the Internet, they may be able to find more than a whole 1 billion of customers in English-speaking countries, which means higher chances of finding a target audience. Besides, the western audience is, as a rule, able to pay more.
Expanding to a new international market is a challenge that each growing company faces, sooner or later. Knowing where, when, and how to start working to attract new users is the key to the success of your global growth efforts.
Digital marketing plays a key role in entering new markets. It allows you to collect information about your niche in a particular country and develop a tailored strategy for customer acquisition.
How to choose the right market and region to expand your business
Choosing a country whose market would be reasonable for you to scale your ecommerce project is the greatest difficulty at the initial stage of the scaling process. The common problem here is the lack of information about the market and the end-users.
An assessment of your potential of expanding to a new country or region should begin, first of all, with analyzing the size of your target market. Note that your market does not include by default the entire population of a country. If a product you’re promoting is not one-size-fits-all, not every buyer will find your offer relevant. When it comes to the market potential of most brands, the total population of a country is not a useful metric.
For instance, if you’re working on an ecommerce website in the couture fashion niche, the brands you offer are unlikely to cover the entire population of the country, although individual buyers will make orders from time to time. That’s why focusing on the top stages of the sales funnel would be a wrong tactic to choose, as most potential customers will likely prefer brands that are already familiar to them.
Here, the good sources providing data about a new market for your business would be as follows:
Online search query data, such as the ratio of a brand and simple queries, as well as search volumes;
Your company’s internal data – the prior results for your online promotion efforts and forecasts for expanding into a foreign market;
Market research data – the potential awareness about your brand;
Socio-demographic research – the size of the population and average income in a particular country;
Industry reports – an overview of suppliers and international e-commerce projects, along with the analysis of their advertising costs;
Reports by country, including brand’s market coverage, market coverage for online technologies, mobile communications, and knowledge of English.
These pieces of data can easily be combined into three groups: market potential, scalability, and the cost of attracting a user. Despite its apparent simplicity, the contents of these three segments can turn out to be quite complicated, given the level of reliability of data in different countries and the available data correlations.
Market Finder – a well-proven Google service, solving this task. It gathers Google AdWords data according to relevant to your website keywords, and then, estimates in which countries your products and services are under the highest demand.
The possibility of expanding to a particular country is also assessed using additional indices reflected the state of the potential market and how favorable it is for scaling up an online business.
Research: Demand, Audiences, Competitors
The next step before launching an online store in a new target location should be more detailed market research. In order to establish yourself as a reliable brand that is worth the money, you need to know precisely what your target audience needs and which of your offers can help you reach a significantly broader audience.
Create a complete picture of the industry, considering the existing players and where you are lagging behind them. To do this, run a segmented study to determine potential customers, and analyze the shortcomings of your current products to determine which consumer needs you fail to meet at the moment.
Also, in order to decide whether a specific market is right for you, find out what your competitors and related companies in the industry already have to offer. Services like SimilarWeb and SemRush can help you with this since they gather the following data of your main rivals
key queries for which the site is displayed in Google search results;
query positions and their dynamics;
search ad queries;
approximate traffic of a competitor website for a specific period.
For your promotion efforts to be successful, your product or service should be able to close the gap in the market. In order to determine whether your brand can close these gaps in the most efficient way, run a SWOT analysis for your business.
If you offer solutions to problems that aren’t relevant to the audience, your product or service won’t be in demand. If you set a higher price for a product or service already existing in the market, customers may ignore your offer.
To ensure success, you should offer a product that would be significantly superior to the existing ones, at an affordable price. Thorough competitor analysis and comparison of your products will ensure that you’re not vulnerable by the time you enter the market.
Through such research, you’ll be able to establish initial relationships with your potential buyers and get an idea of the needs and requirements of the people you are going to sell to.
At the same time, you should also look for potential partners each time you enter a new market or region. This is especially true if your product is not designed for the mass market. In this case, partners will be able to assist you with an initial customer database through the means of targeted marketing and customer segmentation.
Google offers a few tools for analyzing consumer preferences. You can find various reports helping you conclude your potential users behavior on Consumer Barometer . You can also use the report designer for self-meta-searching by your own and other researches.
Google Trends is another tool for comparing different query categories in different countries. With its help, you can find out what products are the most demanded now within a given country. Choose the right keywords for SEO and plan your marketing strategy using such tools as Google Keyword Planner , Wordstat by Yandex, or Serpstat.
Look for companies that already have meaningful information about the market. Such partners will help you save time and get revenue at minimum cost. This will be especially useful if you plan to grow a business in another country without being present there physically. Local partners should be able to help you familiarize yourself with the legal regulations and requirements, as well as the current state of the industry.
How to start promoting your business on a foreign market
Once you have chosen the exact target market for expanding your business, find out how to effectively sell your product or service in this market. Different sales channels have their own strengths and weaknesses. This includes promotion tools, features of the environment in which they’re used, and their potential audiences.
Although the omni-channel marketing approach is a must-take for almost every ecommerce project in 2019, at the beginning you should focus on paid channels to drive traffic: product ads on Google, as well as search, display and banner advertising.
These marketing channels feature low initial costs, can be optimized and quickly scale to foreign markets. They also offer intricate toolsets for cost control and results analysis, as well as the opportunity to influence the results. That is why paid channels are a perfect tool for entering new markets.
Testing a niche using display advertising
When scaling a business abroad, you need a solution that would allow you to be flexible. Strategies for international promotion should primarily use channels that are least costly while being quick to set up and easily scalable to adjacent markets.
When you promote your brand in a little-known market, you assume that your chosen channel will adapt to the market requirements on the go and won’t require numerous complex settings from the very beginning. You need tools that would enable you to optimize your campaigns in semi-automatic mode, instead of pouring a lot of effort into trying to target your audiences manually.
Display advertising (PPC) is the most commercially viable digital marketing tool for promoting your business in foreign markets, both in terms of cost and the simplicity of configuration. Product advertising on Google is even simpler: all you need is a gallery of your products with descriptions in the desired language.
In many countries, a sufficient share of traffic can be provided by a single search engine (in most cases, this would be Google), saving you from the ordeal of handing differences between formats or excessive advertising costs. The Pay Per Click (PPC) model and daily budget limits provide you with the flexibility you need to quickly start and scale a search campaign.
Google display advertising is a leader in the number of interactions with target audiences. This offers advertisers a good understanding of what helps attract the target audience in each individual market. By collecting such data, you’ll be able to quickly identify trends and respond to the needs of a specific market.
This type of advertising is very flexible and allows you to achieve short-term goals at a lower cost. For instance, campaigns in which you pay for a target action (Cost Per Action, CPA) drive results that are visible almost instantly – you only pay for real visitors who are really interested in your offer.
From the marketing perspective, interactions with such ads translate well into real sales revenue. Moreover, the very structure of Google Ads accounts allows you to build transparent reports breaking down the key performance indicators for your business.
Specifics of search engine optimization in foreign markets
Although search engine optimization on a foreign online market is always a long game, it is almost always a winning one. In this case, a website’s search engine optimization (SEO) follows the standard plan:
Each of the stages has its own peculiarities, due to the specifics of competition in the market niche and the region where you choose to promote. But regardless of the market, website optimization should be carried out comprehensively, with digital marketing specialists adding display advertising and SMM strategies to pure SEO.
That said, if you’re considering the possibility of entering other English-speaking markets such as the UK, there is no guarantee that your marketing and advertising strategies will work by default there as well. If you’re going to expand your online business to a country where English is not the native language, you will have to do some preliminary work. Creating a dedicated website for a specific country (for example, using a .es domain for Spain) or at least a different language version of the website (for example, targeting Spanish-speaking Latin American countries) is your best choice for attracting that don’t speak English.
For instance, the British online store ProSwimwear offers users to select their preferred language with a popup window, immediately as the visit the website.
As a rule, search engines (Google in particular) provide search results and display ads tailored to the user’s location and language preferences. Therefore, if you’re selling digital signature software, you’ll be more likely to see Spanish traffic if you promote your website for search phrases like software de firma electronica instead of the English analogs.
However, it may be difficult to translate your entire website into a different language. Allocating smaller amounts of your marketing budget for translating and reconfiguring PHP in small volumes can be just enough to create localized landing pages with foreign language content, instead of translating the entire site. Make sure that your website’s marketing team has thought up website pages telling new consumers about your product in different languages and with an account of different cultural paradigms.
The culture in which your target user is brought up has a great impact on their behavior, and this should be taken into account when optimizing a website for foreign markets. And therefore, as mentioned above, to get the best effect from SEO you need to familiarize yourself with the local market. This is the only way to understand the target user groups, as well as to understand their specific needs and demands. Some characteristics of citizens of different countries can significantly affect their buying decisions. They may also formulate their search queries in different ways.
Please note that Google is not the default search engine worldwide. Moreover, the popularity of different search engines may differ even between regions of the same country.
Therefore, one of the first steps in developing your global SEO strategy is to determine which search engine is most often used by the people in the country you are interested in. This includes Yahoo!, Yandex, Bing, Baidu, Seznam, and many others. Get acquainted with each of these search engines and find out the specifics of their search algorithms. Each search engine has its own characteristics, and therefore it may even turn out that the SEO approach typically used for Google search marketing would be completely ineffective for other search engines.
Your website’s language also has a big impact on its search rankings. You will almost certainly have to find new keywords and create relevant content that may differ significantly from the already existing content on your website.
Different types of content will also be perceived differently in different countries. For example, the Germans and the Danes pay great attention to product descriptions and their technical characteristics. Although this approach may seem a bit stereotypical, it can have a huge impact on your SEO strategy. Therefore, pay special attention to the specifics of language in the country in which you want to promote your website.
Considering all of the above, SEO in different countries can yield different results. In some countries,the most significant effect can be achieved through the use of external links, in others – due to the website’s internal optimization. To successfully optimize your website globally, you need to understand these differences and have the necessary knowledge.
Search marketing in foreign markets has its own specific characteristics. The main task with scaling a business internationally is to take into account all the specifics of a particular region, the audience and search queries.
However, it takes a lot of time and effort to understand all the subtleties and to get your web property ranking among the top search results. If you’ve never done this yourself before, the much better solution it would be to ask experts for help.