Is your brand expanding into international online markets? It better be, if it wants to remain relevant after 2020. The future of growth is global and online, plain and simple.
Successfully selling to international customers requires smart technologies and processes to streamline the localization of your online product assortments. This accommodates regional seasonality, buyer preferences and more.
This is serious business. Twenty-five percent of the 500 top North American retailers recently said they’re making localized assortments a top priority for 2018.
Offering market-relevant assortments is only part of the battle, however. Customizing the content that accompanies those assortments is where the real challenge lies.
The value of customization
Your localized product descriptions and imagery — and the accompanying digital customer experience, including your website and omnichannel assets — need localizing, too. That means authentically speaking the language, adapting to cultural sensitivities and more.
Put another way: If you want to sell to locals, you must sell like a local.
These content customizations generate brand goodwill and awareness among new customers. Consider the benefits:
· Your marketing efforts can more naturally and authentically address the needs of global customers
· Using market-specific images, product descriptions, payment methods and more streamlines the customer experience in every market
· Content can be localized to different degrees in different markets, depending on both customer needs and brand preferences
It’s no secret that customers prefer brands that seem to “get” them and their culture. Customization adds that personal touch and cultural fluency.
Be careful of over-customization
There’s a lot to like about localizing the customer experience. But don't fall into the trap of over-customizing your content and websites so much that you essentially create totally separate experiences from market to market.
This creates an operational quagmire for you — and an inconsistent, alienating experience for your customers. For instance:
· Operating and updating several highly-localized sites becomes needlessly complex
· With so many unique “content tweaks,” it often takes far more time to create and publish translated content online
· Global customers like a little customization, but not a lot. Over-localizing creates inconsistent global brand experiences, which confuses and frustrates customers
Quick localization tips
Once you’ve solved the problem of creating and managing localized product assortments for your global markets, consider these tips for serving those online customers in powerful and persuasive ways:
Leverage Website Translation: Lots of brands have the logistics in place to fulfill international orders, but their global sales will be anemic if their website doesn’t serve customers in locally-preferred languages. Customers buy from websites they can read.
Be Judicious with Customizations: Avoid the risks of over-customization by following the 80/20 rule. Eighty percent of your translated website’s content should mirror your flagship website’s. The rest can feature localized content. Place this customized messaging on your home page, product landing pages, special promotions and local customer support information.
Embrace International SEO: Translate your site’s SEO-rich content, including metadata and structured data, page title and descriptions and more. Conduct keyword research for your brand, industry and market, too.
Use Language-Detection Technology: Use a solution that can seamlessly welcome your global sites’ first-time visitors in the languages they are most likely to speak. Make sure it remembers those preferences for return visits. This increases traffic and conversion rates.
Getting localized product assortments right
To remain relevant in this increasingly competitive industry, you must offer your global customers localized product assortments. But if you’re not speaking their language online — and doing so in ways that address their market’s unique needs and cultural preferences — you’re missing a key ingredient to success.
Craig Witt is Executive Vice President: Global Sales, Marketing and Go-To-Market at MotionPoint.