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Think local, grow global

How a Global Website strategy will help you penetrate emerging markets

Global companies wishing to penetrate emerging markets such as Russia, China and the thinklocoal-01Middle East have to change their thinking.  Until recently the prevailing web strategy has been to create a corporate website and duplicate this for each operational region.  The perception being that the company’s brand is best protected by having an HQ-centric website with centralized control over the website’s look, feel and content.  This strategy is failing.

Regional marketers are frustrated by the lack of understanding from the HQ IT teams as to how they want to put their message across.  Even where direct translations are offered the website builder fails to take into account that one country does not mean one language. Take Switzerland or Belgium for example, which one language would you choose to translate the website into?  What of the official Chinese languages would you pick to the ‘the one’?

Once you overcome the one country, one language challenge a straight translation of the site’s content will still fail you.  Cultural differences, local customs and unique ways people want to interact with sites should be taken into account in the design, layout, structure and content of the site. Failure to incorporate these differences into your site will reduce engagement leading to lost opportunities.

Until recently the Internet wasn’t set up to truly support a multi-lingual or multi-cultural world.  But things are changing.  The rise of non-English speaking websites is phenomenal.  According to John Yunker, the author of The Web Globalization Report Card, “the next Internet revolution will not be in English”.  He points out that over 1 billion people they are expected to type in web addresses in a foreign language or an entirely foreign script.  It is now possible to register domain name endings in a non-latin script and if you are penetrating these markets you should consider doing so.

Google doesn’t dominate everywhere.  Be aware when developing your Global Web Strategy that you have localize your SEO activity too. The largest search engine in Russia is Yandex and in China is Baidu.  These companies have their own algorhythms and they will give more weight to websites in their local languages, hosted locally and connected with other local websites.   This may influence how you choose to deploy your regional sites – are they sub-domains of a US-hosted site or can you create and deploy sites locally.

Ignore your local marketing teams at your peril.  Talk to them and involve them in formulating your web strategy.  This way you can be sure to create a website that is flexible and effective in each and every region you operate in.  This way you will be able to penetrate the new markets and use your website to drive impressive sales growth for your organisation.  Who can say no to that?