Going global online in times of crisis


miniature forklift van and airplane on laptop keyboard delivering boxes

miniature forklift van and airplane on laptop keyboard delivering boxes

Your business is up and running and things are going great. Now it is time to begin the process of internationalization, taking your business to new, untapped global markets. Everything looks great! And then you get hit by COVID-19 and the resultant global economic downturn.

How do you ensure that not only will your business survive, but ensure that it can maximize its gain during this (or the next) disastrous global crisis?

There is a lot that can be done, and it will take a great deal of work, but the results and returns are well worth the effort invested in ensuring your international business is both literally and figuratively virus-proof.

Rather than panic, the business owner whose company is properly positioned both domestically and internationally can thrive, even amidst these historic economic anomalies.

A major part of any international campaign revolves around language. This is just as true in the global fight against COVID-19 as it is in any global marketing campaign. Medical translators from around the world are working hand-in-hand with academic, scientific and medical institutions. Their role is indispensable. They are providing medical translation services day and night to ensure that all research and information about COVID-19 is translated quickly and accurately and made ready for immediate global distribution. The best part is, they can provide the same service for you and your business, even during a global pandemic.

Now’s the time to bring your business online

According to many sources, not only is the “Internet Economy” one of the largest, in various studies, the overall growth of the internet economy, most notably in terms of ecommerce, has outpaced other economic growth by a wide margin. According to Statista,“In 2019, retail e-commerce sales worldwide amounted to $3.53 trillion”. Online shopping is one of the most popular online activities worldwide. The chances are pretty good that if you are ready to take your business international, you have already established an online presence.

This is not always the case though, as some companies will always be springing up with innovative concepts, and moving directly onto the international stage. In such cases, there may be a good deal more work involved, but it is still possible to rapidly move online and establish a business designed to capture a large portion of the potential markets.

Ready to explore ecommerce? Learn how to set up and optimize each step of your e-commerce process to meet the ever-changing demands of customers

Live interpretations and even translation agency offices have suffered just as much as most brick and mortar businesses during the current global pandemic. Those that have been thriving have an established presence online. Most of them have already taken their online presence international, but for those companies who have not yet established an online presence, this may not be immediately possible.

Some businesses may be incapable of moving completely online, and as such, may suffer some during these times of global economic turmoil. That does not mean that they cannot move portions of their business online.

For those companies that do have an established online presence, there is a host of benefits and different ways to ensure that the company is on solid ground. The key to a successful international campaign is going to be in how well you can utilize your current marketing strategies and materials, and where you must tweak them and adjust them to reach a larger global audience.

Repurpose traditional marketing strategies

Once you know there is a demand in a new market, then it is the job of the marketing and advertising materials to create the desire to fulfill that demand with your products and/or services. You likely already have a website, some videos, maybe some podcasts and other marketing materials online, but now all of those have to be made anew so that they are ready for the new market, right? Wrong.

Your website can be converted into numerous languages using a number of different tools and methods. However, translating is not enough. Take some time while translating to look at all of the little personal cues that are in the website content, and replace them with cues that will be equally effective in the target language.

Certain analogies, and even some words, will not translate well into other languages, and these points should be taken into consideration as well. Replacing the details in order to meet the expectations of a new audience, speaking to them on their own terms, is known as “localization”, and it is all about creating the ultimate customer experience on a very personal level.

If you have a video marketing campaign already going, so much the better. While it may sound like a great idea to begin an entirely new video marketing campaign in your efforts to internationalize, it is not only unnecessary, but may prove to be more detrimental than actively working to adjust your existing video selections.

Posting all brand new materials in any online advertising campaign that ages is probably not a great idea, especially if there is already some finely aged and tuned marketing material already posted. Brand new videos with only a few hundred views will not be viewed from the same perspective as older videos with thousands or more views. Fortunately, there is a very simple solution that will help you to internationalize the videos without much effort at all. There are numerous benefits to using video translation services to create closed captioning for all of your videos.

On Facebook, 85% of videos are viewed without sound, so the first and most direct benefit is the ability for your potential customers to watch your videos without sound while still gaining all of the relevant information.

The SRT files for closed captioning are also indexed by the search engines, both on YouTube and on the individual search engines. The number of keywords will increase, the ranking on the search engine results page will increase, and so will the number of times your video makes the YouTube recommended list. It is also remarkably easy to include closed captioning in additional languages for all of your video campaigns online.

Now, your videos will also rank for the relevant keywords in any foreign languages that you are targeting in your internationalization efforts, replete with well-aged videos and the increased consumer confidence that comes along with it. These same principles can also apply to podcasting through the use of transcription and translation services.

Maximize your international marketing campaign with split testing

Once all of the preceding steps have been taken, there are two final steps that should be an ongoing part of your internationalization in terms of marketing and advertising. As mentioned, localization is all about creating the ultimate customer experience. It may be ensuring a smooth transition for the user as they begin their journey on their home computer, and continue it on their cell phone on the go. The continuity of connection is key to successfully engaging your customers in that regard.

Have you ever seen a grandchild out with their grandparent? The child, seeing something amazing, may shout out a current expression that the grandparents are absolutely clueless about.

Even in the same geographic regions, with the same accents and the same tendencies, each generation will have its own common phrases and expressions, idioms and vernacular.

What is the target demographic for your international campaign? Find and target that market, but continue using the process of split testing in order to ensure that all of your localization efforts are as effective as possible.

Split testing is all about setting up dual advertising campaigns and running them for a set length of time. After the time has expired, the results will be tallied up and the best campaign kept, while the poorer performing campaign is discarded and replaced by the better performing one. Ensure none of your discarded campaigns are lost, as some campaigns may still perform well, even if not as well as the winner. There may also be key factors that will help to indicate which portions of the marketing and localization campaigns are effective and which portions are not. Combining the more effective portions into one can also produce very positive results.

The safest investment of all at present, seems to be reinvesting in your company. The potential of the Internet Economy is endless and international. So why not put your resources to use online, and bring your business to a whole world of customers?

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the contributing author, and do not necessarily reflect those of the Forum for International Trade Training.

About the author

Author: Ofer Tirosh

Ofer Tirosh is founder and CEO of Tomedes (https://www.tomedes.com/), an industry-leading language service provider. Tomedes has been rendering professional translation and interpretation services to diverse industries worldwide in more than 12 years.

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