Posted 8th March 2016 | By Nick Evans, Chairman

If you are looking to export your goods or services to another country, you'll be considering how you handle your communications.

This includes everything from your website, social media and other online media through to your invoices, documentation and the person who answers the telephone. And getting it right is not a nice-to-have. Good international comms are the bedrock of a successful exporting business and this post explores a little about this wide-ranging topic.

If you are looking to export your goods or services to another country, you'll be considering how you handle your communications. This includes everything from your website, social media and other online media through to your invoices, documentation and the person who answers the telephone. And getting it right is not a nice-to-have. Good international comms are the bedrock of a successful exporting business and this post explores a little about this wide-ranging topic.

Your website
It's your shop window to the world, whether the visitors are in Paris or Preston, Chicago or Chichester. For multinational visitors, arriving from all over the world, there need to be signposts that ensure they know they're coming to the right place:

Your website needs to be in their language. English just will not do (and don't think that Google Translate gives you a pass on this). Therefore, you either need a full-blown multilingual website - not a trivial investment - or at minimum, you need dedicated pages within your site that are in your target language. Get translation done by partners in your target country or, more expensively, professional translators.

And if you are selling goods online, your merchant system needs to be localised and translated too, so that visitors are not suddenly presented with an English transaction to negotiate when they wish to buy something. Remember too that your currency needs to match your user's expectations and that different countries have different VAT requirements that you need to obey.

Your optimisation of the pages or the multilingual elements of your site should also tell Google that the content is targeted at a specific country and/or language. Use hreflang tags and geo-targeting to ensure your web page is findable. Also, consider whether your domain is appropriate. For example, will cheaptoys4kids.co.uk work well in Germany? Probably not. It's entirely likely that you will need to purchase local domains and also consider a top level domain such as .com or .eu for your site.

Your email marketing
Good and regular communications through email - still the best online marketing medium with upwards of 4.3 billion email account holders worldwide projected by the end of this year - are the best way to keep customers and prospects engaged and interested in your brand. When you have an international audience, you need to speak to them in a language that they'll understand. Therefore, consider how you make your emails currently and work out a plan for duplicating each English campaign, localising its content so that it matches the needs and idiosyncrasies of the country (like currency, legals, availability, etc) and then translate it. Send each campaign as a separate entity, complete with its own lists and its own results - and of course, its own landing pages, in local language.

All of this requires ...

Your strategy
You need to address going international as a strategy that has the buy-in of everyone involved. Some key factors are:

  • Which countries will you address and how?
  • What resources or tools do you need to do this (translators, localisers and feet on the ground)
  • What are the most important priorities for your step outside the UK?
  • What are the biggest hurdles you will need to address?
  • What's your budget and is it sufficient?
  • Why are you doing it?
  • What's your timescale?

In addition, every aspect of your communications is impacted. Consider how you will deal with a phone call from Bulgaria enquiring about an order; think about your routine documentation and how that will be presented in different languages; ensure you are au fait with local legislation relating to privacy and ecommerce.

Most of all, remember that communications that aren't quite right make a negative impression on the recipient. Just as you might be distracted by a spelling or grammar error in a letter or email (or a blog post!), so too language errors that shout "not made in my country" distract people from your message. Get everything right and you'll grow your international business.

If you're looking for more help, just browse our website or simply contact us!

Nick Evans from ExtraMile

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