A few months ago, Gal Nissani published an article about converting your international audience. The article makes the point that translation is the most important step you can take to attract potential clients. Translation also makes browsing your website more convenient for visitors.
I would like to go further and explain how to drive traffic from foreign markets to your website, depending on whether your website is solely in English, already has translated content, or is available in different languages with ccTLDs. You can drive traffic from foreign markets through simple steps of adaptation and marketing as a native, with a little help from social media.
1. English Websites
First, we will see how to drive traffic to your English website when you go international. The first thing you have to do is determine where you want to increase your traffic from. You should not pick a country based on a personal preference.
Instead, you should choose the right country based on the results of a market study. Indeed, English will not get you anywhere. But if you are planning on keeping your website solely in English (assuming you are based in the United States), you will have more chance to drive traffic from other English-speaking countries and other countries open to the Anglo-Saxon culture.
Find the Right Country with Google Analytics
Unfortunately, market studies take time and require a lot of work. A first step, though, could be taking a look at your Google Analytics reports and considering countries with significant percentages of traffic.
When targeting English-speaking countries, you should look at places such as Canada, the United Kingdom, India, Australia, Ireland, and New Zealand. For countries open to the Anglo-Saxon culture and language, you should look at countries such as Sweden or Norway. People in the northern part of Europe and Scandinavia learn English at an early age, and their languages are mostly Germanic.
Let’s imagine that the following is a country report from Google Analytics for your website. You can clearly see that European countries, India, and Oceania bring many visits to your website. This could be a big opportunity for you. To drive even more traffic from this market, you should focus your marketing efforts on these countries.
Offer These Countries a Little Translation
So, now that you have picked a country based on your Google Analytics report, it’s time to take some action on your website. As explained earlier, these countries are either Anglo-Saxon or welcoming of English.
Let’s assume you picked a country like Sweden. According to the European Commission’s Eurobarometer of 2012, 86% of Swedes speak English so they won’t have any problem browsing your website. But, wouldn’t it be nice and convenient to offer your content in their language? They sure would appreciate it.
Action #1: Add the Google Translate bar to your site. The Google Translate bar and widget offer translation in 60 languages. It’s easy to add to your code and visitors can choose to translate your site to their convenience. To add the widget to your site, head to Google Translate. Note that you can monitor your widget’s statistics with Google Analytics.
But, isn’t it a little intrusive? Yes and no: the widget appears only when required, and if the user’s browser is in English, it will not suggest any translation. You also can limit the widget to the few languages you are targeting so it does not get too crowded. Also, it does not alter any links.
Action #2: Make yourself available to foreign users. There are several ways to make yourself more available to your foreign audience. First, if you are using a live chat, activate the translation feature. It will benefit both the visitor and yourself. They can write in their mother tongue, and you can write in English; both will be translated. Services such as Zopim (now part of Zendesk) offer automatic translation and detect the user language.
Adapt Your Product
If your website is converting only on the American market, it may be because your product is not entirely suiting the destination country. A solution to this issue would be to adapt to the local culture.
A classic example of product adaptation is the establishment of McDonald’s in India where cattle are considered sacred to the 80.5% Hindu population. Beef and pork are nowhere to be found in their diets; therefore, it is unthinkable to serve a Big Mac. So, if you would like to sample the local cuisine there, try an authentic Chicken Maharaja Mac.
Chances are you’re not running a fast-food empire. But, for example, let’s say you run a fashion website. You may want to cater warmer weather clothes to your Indian audience, instead of bombarding them with winter fashion. Perhaps, testing and tailoring your experience by country could offer big wins.
2. Websites with Translated Content
Now, let’s assume your website already has some translated pages and content. This section is also for those of you who have a website where you can switch languages from the menu thanks to translated content. Taking the time to translate your content is a great first step! Let’s see how you can drive international traffic to your site with social media features.
Translate on Social Media
There are many ways to get your content translated on social media so that it reaches out to foreign audiences. You can, of course, use services such as Google or Bing Translation to share your messages in different languages.
If you are highly active on social media, I have good news for you. Facebook and Twitter offer automatic translation based on the user’s browser language. This service, coupled with Bing Translation, does not require anything from you, and it will automatically offer users the ability to translate your content.
Use Linguistics Options to Reach Your Target
As Gal Nissani explained in her KISSmetrics blog post, translating your website (or at least the main pages) lifts a huge barrier to potential customers. As the Harvard Business Review article quoted in the post stated, 72% of users spend most of their time on websites in their native language.
If you want to reach your target through social media and do not have time to manage several language-focused accounts, use Facebook. With Facebook’s PowerEditor, you can choose the language and country where you’d like your post to appear.
To do this, go to Facebook’s Power Editor, select your Facebook Page, and create a new unpublished post. You can choose to publish a link, a picture, or a video, just like you would from the regular posting box on your Page. Select “This post will be published on the Page.” Then, the languages and location options will become available.
Thanks to this trick, your posts will be available only to the country and language you have selected.
Go International with SEO
As Gal Nissani explained in her article, there are some SEO aspects to consider. You do not necessarily have to set up a new domain name to be a “native” in the markets you are targeting. But, a subdomain or a new directory should be considered. Make sure you also are adding value to your content with the right keywords strategy.
3. Websites Available in Different Languages with ccTLDs
This last section is for those of you who have a website available in different languages and want to go further to drive international traffic.
If you are planning on doing social media in another country, it is possible that what we consider “classic social media platforms” (such as Facebook and Twitter) are not available in the market you are targeting. If we take the example of China, Facebook was banned in 2009. Another example could be the current situation of Turkey and YouTube.
Working around a censorship problem is not the only reason to consider expanding your strategy to local social networks. As obvious as it sounds, choosing a local social network will allow you to market your brand exactly where your target is. Here is a list of social networks to consider according to the targeted countries:
- Xing: Germany’s social network for professionals
- Viadeo: France’s social network for professionals
- Weibo: China’s Facebook
- Orkut: widely used in Brazil
- VK: widely used in Russia
Use Language-focused Accounts
With social media, you can easily reach people all over the world, including the markets you are targeting. People spend hours on social networks, and that presents an opportunity to create a great community to drive traffic to your website. From a social point of view, you should offer your services in the desired language to reach the market and the customers you are targeting.
Take the example of Kaspersky Labs and their community management strategy. Their Facebook pages are available in several languages, so each community manager serves and understands their community around the same product, in different languages.
Learn more about Kaspersky’s social media efforts and how it helped the company engage social media communities in foreign countries.
Study the Culture: Go beyond Translation and Social Media
Marketing abroad cannot be generalized throughout the world. Each country is specific. As research by Geert Hofstede, Fons Trompenaars, and Edward T. Hall show, there are several aspects of culture you have to understand before doing business with a foreign market. These cross-cultural aspects of management can also be applied to the way you do marketing abroad. Hofstede explains there are two sides of a culture. Like an iceberg, there is the part you see, the obvious, above the water, and then there is the part you don’t see, the deeper unconscious beliefs, under the water.
This is why a simple translation won’t do the trick. So, if you want to drive traffic from foreign markets, you definitely should “be there” beside your potential customers. Understand their core beliefs.
If you are looking to raise awareness of your product in Spain, for example, in addition to translating your content to Spanish, you should promote your product through blog posts to be published on well-known Spanish blogs, just like a Spanish copywriter would do.
If you would like to drive organic traffic from foreign markets without the use of advertising, I strongly recommend blogging. Blogging gives you the opportunity to naturally drive traffic through content. As mentioned earlier, you should post your content on well-known local blogs, and foreign traffic will naturally come to your website.
Know Your Competitors
Competition is everywhere and the entry barrier is especially high for a foreign company trying to establish a reputation in another country to drive traffic. Michael Porter’s 5 forces model is made of:
- Threat of new entrants
- Bargaining power of buyers
- Bargaining power of suppliers
- Threat of substitute products/services
- Rivalry among existing firms
When you look at the market you are trying to drive traffic from, consider yourself a new (foreign) entrant trying to get established among the rivalry of existing local firms. Now, you understand why the competition is going to be especially tough for you, the foreign company.
Therefore, to drive traffic from a foreign market, the solution is to not only market there “as a native,” but to become a native yourself. Promoting your business through channels like social media, SEO, and content is the greatest way to actually “be there.”
Conclusion: When in Rome, Do as the Romans Do
Just like any strategy, driving traffic from foreign markets takes time. It requires a lot of work and research, from the translation of your website to the SEO aspects. To implement your strategy through content and social media, you should take time to build your strategy and brand image.
What is important to remember is that whatever state your website is in, you can easily drive traffic from foreign markets. Work through each step. First, choose wisely what country you should go to. Then, adapt your marketing strategy to the targeted market. Keep in mind that it involves much more than language and translation. And, make sure you have diversified sources of traffic driving foreign visitors. To do so, reach out through social media. The more localized your strategy is, the better.
Driving traffic from foreign markets requires a lot of work, but when you adopt the right strategy, you can expect impressive results. Remember, the key factor to multicultural sources of traffic is do not market from your home country as an American adapting to the targeted culture, but instead become “a native” and actually be there!
About the Author: Anji ISMAIL is CEO and co-founder at DOZ, a marketing platform that helps websites to grow their traffic by organizing the work of vetted marketers around the world. DOZ’s campaigns are focusing on Search Engines, Social Media and Content; and have a unique Cost Per Click model.