For someone in e-Commerce, the notion of expanding your business globally is both exciting and daunting all at the same time. The why of international expansion is understandable; while you have nearly 320 million potential customers in the United States, the worldwide population is just over 7 billion. While not all of those people are potential customers, Europe alone represents a market expansion of nearly 750 million customers.
But the how of attracting international attention to your e-Commerce site becomes an issue. You may rank very well in the United States according to Google, but how can you translate that into business from Italy or Spain? There are two primary options for anyone seeking to increase international traffic. The first thing you should do is a bit of research on your current trends and conversions.
One of the best places to start your research in increasing international traffic is Google Trends. You can look up your targeted countries top search trends and compare how different keywords perform in that country. While Google Trends doesn’t hit every country in the world, there’s a large enough representation that you can start to get a feel for what search terms are popular in that area.
For example, searching for the term “widget” in the Business & Industrial for the past year in Spain shows that it is a fairly consistently searched term with the majority of searches coming from Murcia and Castile-La Mancha.
Additionally, you can compare multiple search terms and see how each compares to the other, allowing you to test the efficacy of long-tail keywords.
You should also use your Google Analytics data to see where your audience is coming from. That information is found under Audience -> Geo -> Location. By looking at that, you can see if you’re already attracting interest from the areas internationally that you’re interested in.
Another way of finding keywords that will attract attention in your desired international market is through paid marketing.
Paid Marketing Options
Breaking into a new market, especially an international one takes a lot of research. One of the easiest ways to do that is by utilizing paid marketing tools. Using paid marketing in small regional tests often reveals exceptional data about those areas. You can use the paid advertising to explore keywords that are resonating in those areas. There are numerous options for you to choose from when it comes to paid or sponsored ads.
If you sell on Amazon, you’re probably familiar with Amazon’s sponsored ads and how they promote your brand on Amazon. Essentially, Amazon allows you to measure the engagement and success of your ads based on how you structure it. By using manual targeting, you can specify keywords that will allow you to gauge those specific successes.
Google AdWords is a way to get your eCommerce site to specific regions. AdWords has a targeting option that lets you focus on everything from country down to postal codes. You can also set up specific radius targets that center on places of interest to you and your products, such as airports, college campuses, or shopping centers.
Facebook ads are another option for testing the waters in your new market. They allow your business to advertise specific posts in specific regions, allowing you to test what is attracting attention. More importantly, with their data collection services, you can find out what is driving the coveted conversion rate to your website.
Don’t neglect foreign social media. Not everyone in every country uses Facebook or Twitter. If you’re looking to branch into China, for example, you may want to advertise on Baidu Tieba or QZone. Russia has Vkontakte, and in Latin America, you will find nearly 75 million users on Taringa. Using paid ads on social media that has a broad user base in your desired international area is a smart way to get some valuable data on what works and what doesn’t.
Keep in mind that paid marketing is going to generate traffic. You may see some excellent conversions, but what you’re really after is the data about what ads are attracting the most attention. That way once you have that information, you can funnel it back into your organic marketing efforts.
Organic SEO Tactics to Increase International Traffic
Organic marketing is something that you’re already likely doing. Using keywords, from short branded ones to long tail, to attract visitors through natural searches. Creating original and relevant content for your site that takes advantage of those keywords. The key lies in knowing what keywords are attracting attention in your desired market.
After you’ve done the research and decided on where you’re going to focus your attention, don’t neglect translations. Remember that even if you’re focusing on a country where the majority of people speak English, there’s still no substitute for speaking someone’s language.
Authentic Content for Foreign Markets
Another tactic that is useful is hiring a foreign freelancer to write content for your store in their native language. This enables you to get content that’s geared toward your target market that is written in a tone and pace that your prospective customers are used to. After all, foreign countries often have idioms that seem fairly nonsensical to a United States-based writer.
Take for example the German phrase, “Ich verstehen nur Bahnhofwhich”, translates to, “I only understand the train station.” This phrase might not mean much to an Italian or someone from Portugal, but it’s a common saying in Berlin. To them, this phrase is used to indicate that the speaker has no idea what the other person is saying.
So engage someone who is familiar with that area to write about your product in their native tongue. No matter what type of business you’re involved in, you can find something that will be relevant and engage visitors. Localizing your content to reach your desired market is a huge step in converting them into customers. In fact, according to a 2012 study by the Harvard Business Review, where 2,430 web consumers were polled in 8 countries, nearly 3/4 of them said they would be more likely to purchase something that had information written in their native language.
Over half of them said that the ability to get information in their own language is more important than the actual price of the item.
In a study, the year before by the European Commission found that in 23 different European Union countries, 9 out of 10 internet users would always visit a website in their native language.
The Bottom Line
Expanding your eCommerce site to increase international traffic makes great business sense. After all, the internet isn’t isolated to just your neck of the woods. Developing an international strategy for your eCommerce site will help you hone your skills when it comes to expanding and developing your business domestically as well.
Remember that when it comes to growing your business internationally, there are no shortcuts. Taking your time to do the proper research may seem slow, but the dividends that you and your business will reap have the potential to be huge. And when you do see growth and an increase in international traffic, don’t rest on your laurels. Be ready to start the process all over again with research into keywords and creating original and relevant content.
This is a guest post by Andrew Maffettone, Director of Marketing and Operations for Seller’s Choice, a full-service digital marketing agency for e-commerce sellers. Seller’s Choice provides uniquely personalized marketing and managed services for digital marketplace sellers, e-commerce merchants, and brand builders worldwide. You can learn more by emailing email@example.com or visiting here.