Think with Footprint: Pitfalls and Promises of International Growth

Published on November 16, 2017 by Alex Eade

There are businesses in the UK that are happy remaining within one market. Then, there are businesses that are more adventurous. They’re inquisitive about what other markets can offer them, but often nervous about venturing into a brave new world. Often, they have an idea of which marketplace they want to move into, but they don’t know how to start. The Department of International Trade is hammering home the message that now is the time to export, but how?

One barrier to international markets is website copy. If your website is written in English, and you want to do business in Yemen, for example, then the language barrier is going to be an issue. It’s this language barrier to international trade and business development that Tom, at Integro Languages, spoke to us about in our most recent Think with Footprint session.

Running Before You Can Walk

Tom told us that often clients will come to them having seen poor results on websites that they have previously had translated. Either the webpages fail to rank for important keywords, have little organic traffic visiting them, or they fail to convert once people are on the site. Or, the hat trick, they fail to rank, fail to attract traffic, and fail to convert.

Why is this?

One reason is poor translation, simply translating the website word for word, without thinking about cultural differences, popular phrases in certain countries, and how a change in language will affect the flow and meaning of the text.

Another reason, is that these companies are simply running before they can walk, and have taken a metaphorical tumble, landing in their chosen country bruised, battered, and completely unprepared to do business. They mistakenly believe that in order to trade in a country, they must arrive with a completely translated website. This is wrong.

Start Small – and Test!

Instead of investing in a complete website translation straight from the off, Integro believe that you have to start small. Take a small piece of text that describes your business, and translate it perfectly. Tailor a single webpage to your chosen audience, make sure it says exactly what it should say, and then test it. The international market can be extremely risky, and any form of substantial growth like this is a potential danger zone for a business, so Tom says it’s important to find a safe test environment to try out your new business model – test environments can even include social media platforms and PPC adverts to work out if what you have to offer will sell in a new market.

Think About the Foreign Market

This sounds obvious, but it’s not necessarily. A business may have thought about their new market in terms of tariffs, quotas, subsidies, and legislation etc., but they don’t always extend their thoughts to online competitors. Or online keyword searches. Just like in the UK, it’s important to understand your online audience, and your online competitors. For example, what language do people use to search in the country? How many languages are used in that country and which are you appealing to? Who are your competitors in that country and what keywords are they using? Where do they rank and what for?

International growth offers vast opportunities for many UK businesses; taking the time to understand the online world of your industry, alongside context, culture, and language in another country is a must do, if you want to avoid the pitfalls.

By Alexandra Eade, Content Manager.