Localisation Brand Strategy Globalization

Five steps to entering new markets online

By Chris Attewell, Chief Executive Officer

Search Laboratory


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October 28, 2022 | 8 min read

Expanding into uncharted territory without an understanding of local culture or its language is where brands trip up. Blending cultural awareness with a data-informed strategy is the solution, says Search Laboratory’s Chris Attewell.

Time lapse of crossroads in Shanghai

To enter new markets gracefully, brands must adapt their strategy in new regions to their local culture / Siyuan via Unsplash

Implementing a data-driven strategy is key to expanding into global markets. Getting to know your new target market and its nuances is critical to effective expansion – optimizing your performance and visibility in new regions.

Before beginning trade in a new market, you need to truly understand that market. What gaps are visible for your brand? What level of competition should you expect? How does your target audience in this market compare to your current customer? This insight will remove the guesswork from your expansion.

Identifying the best market for your business

Market Explorer is an analysis tool that combines both Google and third-party data to reveal relative opportunity within various international markets based on the likes of industry demand, trends and competition.

Data from the Explorer dashboard reveals individual product demand and category interest growth showing year-on-year demand change, as well as category costs per click across markets. From here, you’re able to use this data to begin answering the critical questions: how much do I need to invest to see returns? What level of revenue can I expect?

At Search Laboratory, we take this a step further by taking a snapshot of your own current impressions using Google Ads. You’re then able to calculate the total size of your home market and replicate this across all available markets, uncovering the demand for your product from a global perspective.

This can be developed again by incorporating additional inputs of known data from your home market such as your click-through rate, website conversion rate or average order value to help project investment and acquisition costs, revenue and return on investment (ROI).

The final step is to begin visualizing these opportunities by comparing available markets. By taking the top 10 markets, you can estimate an opportunity forecast and how much you will need to invest.

Market Explorer’s interactive nature makes room for experimentation, allowing you to edit filters and regions to uncover opportunities and insight into which market is best suited for your business. These insights are great for steering your strategy in the right direction when planning your expansion.

Recognizing your competition

Using data from the competition in your target market will allow you to make informed and profitable decisions about your expansion.

Insights from your competition will contribute to building an authentic presence, which is crucial to the success of multilingual campaigns. Replicating English-speaking strategies globally may get lost in translation and fail to resonate with your target region.

Asking questions and diving into the local culture will naturally encourage a localized presence in your target market. The considered process of getting to know your audience builds trust and reliability around your brand while avoiding launching into a market with little demand for your business.

Localization over translation

Localization is fundamental to an effective international strategy. Every degree of localization holds the potential to significantly impact how your brand will be perceived. As well as acknowledging the nuances of your chosen language, it’s important to consider how this comes across in imagery, customer service and payment methods.

If a customer is unable to access their preferred payment method, trust and purchasing intent is easily damaged. For example, in Japan, it was revealed that 73.7% of people would leave an online shop if their preferred payment method was not available.

A well-translated (or localized) website connects to your audience on a personal and relatable level – building loyalty, encouraging return customers and increasing ROI.

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Optimize technical URL and site structures

The physical presence of your brand is arguably more important than any messaging and strategy. Customers want to feel secure and relaxed on your site, which is why it’s essential to adapt your website for multiple languages when going global.

The three main structure options for a domain (using a French website as an example) are:

  • ccTLD (country code top-level domain) – eg example.fr
  • Sub-folder – eg thedrum.com/fr
  • Sub-domain – eg fr.thedrum.com

Understanding how each structure works is key to deciding what is going to work best for your business.

For example, ccTLD is clear and concise, although requires one site per region so would not be ideal if you’re wanting to target 10+ countries. Sub-folders benefit from one umbrella site, although can often face difficulties with navigation. Sub-domains allow you to keep ‘.com’ across all sites, although require maintenance when managing multiple regions.  

Go beyond Google

Search engine market shares vary vastly across the globe. Despite Google’s dominance, there are many regions where alternate search engines hold significant dominance in particular areas of the market.

Market shares swing wildly across devices, locations and browsers. For example, Bing covers 36.96% of US console searchers. If your target audience favored console users, optimizing for Bing is a strong rival against Google.

With this insight, you will be able to make informed, data-driven decisions about your strategy. Google has a market share of 95.45% in India, making it difficult to optimize anywhere else if you are targeting this region. Similarly in the Chinese and Russian markets, Baidu covers 82.47% of China’s search engine market, and Yandex holds 60.07% in Russia.

For help entering new international markets, contact Search Laboratory.

Localisation Brand Strategy Globalization

Content by The Drum Network member:

Search Laboratory

Search Laboratory is an award-winning, integrated digital marketing agency with offices in Leeds, London, and Austin TX.

A proud member of Havas Media Network,...

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