In the manufacturing space, “lean” means focusing on what adds value to your business and ruthlessly eliminating everything else. Plenty of manufacturers point to the lean approach as the cornerstone of their success.
But when it comes to marketing, “lean” sometimes cuts to the quick. These days, most manufacturers’ marketing teams are tiny, with very limited resources. Even so, these lean teams must tackle big, business-impacting marketing projects. And few of these projects are as important as reaching new audiences online.
A company’s digital footprint is its best marketing tool — and maintaining and growing websites for global audiences is a massive undertaking. Small marketing teams wonder: How will we translate our origin English site? How will we manage sites in languages we don’t speak? Who will own the technical deployment and ongoing updates?
The sheer scope of these projects is downright daunting, but the payoff can be huge. The sooner you’re in market online, the sooner you’ll reap the benefits of customer awareness and new revenue in those regions.
To succeed in online global markets, lean marketing teams must focus on what matters most to their customers in various regions, and outsource the expertise they lack (or the tasks they don’t have bandwidth for). If you’re unsure of where to start, keep reading.
Speak the Language, and Sidestep In-House Risk
First, speak the language. It seems obvious enough, but to earn customer trust in a new market, you’ve got to be able to exchange ideas and information in a common tongue. In fact, 75 percent of global customers prefer to buy products from websites published in their native language. B2B buyers are no different.
Website content published in a market’s preferred language also improves your rank in organic search and website traffic.
Website translation projects are not trivial undertakings. Even still, many manufacturers consider launching and managing these ambitious projects in-house. Project ownership is often assigned to already-strapped marketing and web development teams.
Suddenly, these small teams are faced with building websites for each global market, outsourcing translation tasks (which isn’t a team core competency), overseeing the editing and publication of those translations, and ensuring brand and content continuity — and uptime — on those multilingual sites.
Technologies and platforms exist, however, that can quickly translate English websites into multiple languages and serve them to the right global audiences. The best solutions empower you to manage your English site as you always have, while smart technologies and linguists automatically update those global, multilingual websites. It’s a hands-off, worry-free experience.
That’s often very important for small teams, especially considering that the day-to-day operation of a multilingual site can tricky, and filled with risk. They must be continually monitored for changes, and content (including text, video, and images) must be translated and published on a continual basis.
Deploying, operating and optimizing multilingual sites through one origin site — and tapping partners to help you do this as needed — will eliminate operational complexity and cost. More importantly, it will get this project off your plate, and in market, far faster and more affordably than doing it yourself.
Prioritize the Important, Cultural Nuances
Here are a few more tips that can help lean teams find success in global online markets:
- Stick with the 80/20 rule: Eighty to 90 percent of your English website can be translated verbatim for international markets. However, the remaining 10 to 20 percent can benefit from nuanced, customized content called localizations. This could be dedicated to offering locally-relevant product lists, banner images and more.
- Show you care: Show new customers you appreciate their business. Personalize messaging for sites in every region, and use relevant market-specific offers whenever possible.
- Support customers like a local: Subtle but important culturally-relevant cues make all the difference to customers. They lead to an increased conversion rate, more time spent on your site and increased trust. For instance: Make sure phone numbers are formatted locally for customer support.
- Local payment platforms: If your site is transactional, boost customer trust even further by supporting local payment options. Overseas markets often have locally-preferred payment types ranging from local bank cards to e-wallet platforms. This means extending your financial fluency beyond Visa, Mastercard and PayPal. Companies that don’t support market-specific platforms experience reduced traffic, engagement and conversion rates.
Put the Plan into Action
Whatever solution you choose, it must be an agile one. Like your origin English site, your multilingual websites must be refreshed regularly with new content, including up-to-date products and pricing, when appropriate. When multilingual sites feature stale content that’s out of sync with your current messaging or product selection, customers notice. And they don’t like it.
Focusing on what matters and finding partners that specialize in these projects can make the difference between launching multilingual websites in years, or in mere weeks. If you’re speaking the right language to your company’s partners and prospects, your tiny marketing team will undoubtedly become company heroes.
Craig Witt is an Executive Vice President at MotionPoint.