Fred opened his talk in French, simulating what it’s like to arrive on a website and not understand a thing. Before beginning on…
Why is global so important?
Fred began his talk with the numbers. Half of the world’s population is now online, that’s 3.8 billion. 4.9 billion are on mobile.
There’s been a 10% increase year on year of people on the internet, but this growth is not coming from Europe or the US, it’s being seen in the rest of the world, where the number of new users of mobile phones is increasing.
10% of the African population is on the internet, that’s more than the percentage of the population in the US. In South Asia 16% of the population is online, in East Asia, it’s 24%.
The numbers state the reasons for going global now and Fred emphasised that businesses that are there now, in Africa, South and East Asia have the opportunity to create habits, those that arrive in ten years’ time will be following trends.
Three Steps to Going Global
Fred outlined three areas to consider when expanding a business and its marketing across the world:
- Linguistic considerations
- Cultural considerations
- Technical considerations
Fred touched on several points to consider concerning linguistics and language. Does the brand name translate correctly?
Firstly, does the brand name translate correctly?
Otherwise, you could end up trying to sell maternity wear to French consumers using a brand name that means ‘puke’ in the native language. Not naming names.
Next, are you using the correct language and tone? If you’re using Spanish, is that Mexican Spanish or Catalan? French – is that Swiss French, Canadian French or French French? There are over 750 dialects in India. It’s crucial to choose the right language.
Once the language is decided, which register will be used – is formal or informal more suited to your target market? The tone much match the target audience and business objectives.
Fred implored us not to use automated translation, such as Google Translate.
Fred stressed the importance of being aware of your target market and their cultural references. For example, references to storks in relation to birth won’t fly in Japan as the common reference point is that babies come out of giant peaches.
Questions to ask when planning to work with, not against, preferences in your target country include:
Which numbers and colours are preferred, or considered lucky, in your target location?
What is the preferred payment method? How do people pay? For example, Expedia made gains in Latin America by introducing an option to pay by installment, a popular purchase method in this part of the world.
To successfully go global, you’ll need to explain your company and built trust in new locations. Only then can you start selling successfully.Who you are, what you stand for, build an audience, then – and only then – sell.
New target audiences need to know who you are, what you stand for.
Awareness of market competitors is crucial. Fred cited the Uber and DIDI. Uber takeover did not work in China because the population was loyal to DIDI.
Are your dates and measures formatted in line with the norms in that country? Do you reference driving on the left or right, which is the right one? For example, filters are dynamically updated in line with language choice on Booking.com.
Create content for an audience in a specific target location and match the content for this purpose. For example, New Yorkers won’t buy-in to copy including Statue of Liberty, because this is considered a tourist trap. Likewise for the Parisians and the Eiffel Tower.
If you’re creating video content for the Chinese, you should be overlaying comments and reviews onto the video as this is the preference of this audience.
Fred reminded the room to use hreflang tags to tell Google that you have alternative pages in other languages.
Fred provided three ways to implement this:
- A link in the header.
- In the HTTP header directly
- Through the sitemap
Fred stressed the importance of incorporating global social platforms into your social media strategy.
For example, if you’re expanding into China, you should be using WeChat. If it’s Indonesia, consider Line.
The same can be said for search engines. Find the chosen engine for your target location. The majority react to the same ranking factors as Google but in varying degrees.
For example, the Chinese search engine BaiDu still prioritises amount of links, not link quality.
Fred ended his talk by revisiting his opening stats and stressing the importance of going global, with linguistic, cultural and technical considerations in mind.