Tips on how to use your website to take your business global

Looking to grow your business overseas? Tailor your website to international expansion and it will help make the difference between success and failure

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A business website is a key tool for companies looking to grow and offers an array of benefits from the ability to sell goods online via e-commerce, to providing current and potential customers with important information about your business and its products and services.

Not only that, but a website can also help your business achieve aspirations of growing overseas.

However, if you’re looking to grow your business overseas then you will want to adapt your website and content to meet the needs of overseas markets.

This is easier said than done, but here are some tips on how you can optimise your business’ online presence to achieve international growth.

Register a .com domain name

An excellent way to prepare your business for overseas expansion is by registering a .com domain name.

For most international customers, your business website may be their first introduction to your company and its products and services. As a result, it is important to appear trustworthy and reliable, and to offer the impression that you cater to international markets.

A .com domain name is one of the world’s most recognised web addresses. This extension is known and trusted around the world, offering the impression to both current and potential customers that your business has no boundaries and is not restricted to one local region.

That said, registering a .com domain name is just the start when aiming to expand overseas. There are many other ways to ready your business for internationalisation, and one of the most important considerations is to know and understand the markets you will be targeting.

Understand where you should sell your products/services

Before expanding overseas, your business should carefully consider which markets it should be hoping to crack. Picking a country at random is a recipe for disaster, and could result in your company wasting time and money on a market which is ill-suited for your business.

So, how can you decide which country to focus on first? Whether you have a website or not, you should first carry out research into different markets, and how your products or services fit such markets.

On the other hand, if a certain market appears relatively untapped when it comes to the goods you are selling, it may well be worth expanding there, as you could be bringing in-demand products or services into the region, and competition would be low. Thorough research into different market demands and restrictions can help you establish where may be best for your company to begin its expansion.

Market research companies or services can help you gain this insight, and determine which country you should expand into, offering information on cultural differences, competition and more.

If your website is already up and running, your website’s analytics tools could also be beneficial when deciding where to expand. Your analytics tools can provide data showing where traffic is coming from around the world. This is a useful starting point for many businesses looking to expand overseas – after all, if your business already has interest from a certain market, why not look to capitalise on that?

Understanding different overseas markets is vital for a business looking to expand overseas, and both research and website analytics can make a positive difference when embarking upon internationalisation.

Website analytics, for example, can inform you about the most searched keywords that has brought people to your website, the most visited pages, conversion rates and more. By making use of website analytics, your business will be better prepared to cope with the demands of internationalisation.

Ready your site for global transactions

Not only is your website a useful tool in helping customers from around the world know more about your business, but it can also be used to sell goods internationally, via an e-commerce platform. It’s important, however, to gain an understanding of how to adapt your website to suit selling internationally.

If, for example, you’re based in the UK but are selling goods in the USA, it doesn’t make sense to only show item pricing in pound sterling.

Instead, your website should have a currency converter which does just that – automatically calculating the value of goods in different currencies, so that potential customers don’t have to work it out themselves.

If you’re selling to European countries, your website should also calculate VAT as this results in additional costs on top of shipping, and is something your customers will want to know about.

Not only that, but your website should be equipped with the capabilities to process transactions from all over the world. While a credit or debit card may be the favoured payment option in the UK, for example, PayPal, Apple Pay or even a local payment provider could be the norm in the country you wish to expand into.

Adapting your e-commerce so that it caters to these different payment providers is vital if you are to reach across different markets.

Tailor your website’s content

Offering goods in foreign currencies, however, may not convince potential customers that your business is one to be taken seriously as a seller in their market. So, in addition, you should tailor your website’s content so that it is suited to all of the markets you intend to cater to.

First, catering to different languages is very important and offering overseas customers the chance to browse your website in their local language can go a long way to making your business seem established in that market.

You should also consider tailoring your website’s content so that it appeals across different countries. If, for example, your business is based in the UK but is selling a product in Spain, including British slang in the product description is likely to confuse potential Spanish customers, even if the description has been translated.

Luke Barlow, CEO of NetDuma, advises:

“When looking through our website stats we saw that many non-English speaking countries had similar bounce rates and reading time as English-speaking countries. But visitors from countries like Spain, France and Mexico were quickly leaving our website, leading us to conclude that they were generally less proficient with English than others. Once we translated the site into Spanish and French our numbers significantly improved.”

Adapting your content can minimise your risks of being misunderstood or offending overseas customers thanks to a cultural faux pas.

Therefore, it is advised that businesses work with translation or localisation companies to help with the internationalisation of website content as a free translation tool may not be up to the task.

A website that is properly tailored to overseas expansion can be the difference between a successful international company, and a failed one.

By taking the time to adapt your website so that it suits the needs of different markets and cultures, your business stands a better chance of tapping into these markets, and growing as a result.

This article is a part of the ‘Getting Online’ series sponsored by Verisign. Click here for more information from Verisign on how your business can attract customers from across the globe.