When looking to test international markets, there is not a more cost-effective approach than with digital marketing.
Without the need to have sales staff on the ground, the ability to run paid advertising on and off and the potential to project cost and return with available data prior to starting; online marketing is key to expanding outside our boarders.
Where to export to?
Every business is different and there are no golden locations that can be guaranteed to work without a serious look at data; however, at an early stage it may be important to rule locations out:
The first issue is that setting up a digital marketing project is often the easy bit- you can simply create adverts in a foreign language and get traffic from all over the world, but does your website have help guides, product descriptions and terms in that language? Do you have a logistics and fulfilment to cope with the international issues? Do you have someone at the office who speaks the language you are selling to if there are issues with delivery?
These are all barriers that can be overcome, but they quickly move the project away from being a quick and simple test. Fortunately, there are options available to you that break the language barrier down:
The most obvious approach is by looking at English speaking countries or regions: Canada, USA and Australia are huge markets, but don’t discount countries where English is a commonly used language for business such as The Philippines, South Africa or Hong Kong.
This gives huge scope; however, it can be expanded upon further. When looking for export options for a pool chemical company, we discovered that across expat locations there were good search volumes for their core target terms with almost no English Language competition, meaning the PPC click costs are about 15% of that in England.
By thinking outside the box and capitalising on cheap click costs from English language users, we were able to build an effective additional revenue stream.
By logging into an active Google Ads account you have the ability to see what the search volumes and click costs will be in any country or area. The below image shows swimming pool related terms, and their volume in Spain
The next step you can take is to see where you already get traffic from. You may be in the enviable position of ranking on Google organically (in the Google SEO rankings, not paid adverts), but as there is no infrastructure in place to show users the can purchase from you, there may be a significant missing revenue stream.
Below shows a screenshot from a client who was getting good traffic from Ireland, but didn’t have any shipping options. By adding this as an option and ensuring fulfilment was possible, they regularly generate over £5k+ pcm, without any more work or spend!
By logging into Google Analytics and searching for the Location report, you can see this data for your website.
What is needed?
Before you launch internationally you need to ensure you have a number of things in place. The below checklist is not exhaustive and focuses on digital infrastructure, so doesn’t take into account the business level export concerns briefly mentioned above:
- Dedicated landing pages
- Ensure you clearly show the shipping costs to the target country
- Correct language tagging
- You need to show search engines what languages and locations you are targeting with the hreflang tag. Many website platforms have easy to use plugins to help with this.
- International Keyword Research
- Some terms are not used internationally! Use Google Trends to see if the terms we use in Britain are the same as the new target market. Below we can see the hue disparity between ‘Garden Furniture’ and ‘Patio Furniture’ across UK and USA.
- Competition Analysis
- You need to know how your prices or services stack up internationally before you embark on any project. Ensure you are competitive and have the ability to rank either on Google Organic or with PPC adverts.
- A KPI plan
- Make sure you know what success looks like before starting. Too many digital marketing projects are put to sleep too early because the measurement wasn’t accurate from the start.
Paid or Free Traffic?
The great thing about search engine marketing is the ability to get traffic for free! SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) is the art of convincing Google that your website is the best for what users are looking for. Whilst this is a proven incredibly lucrative revenue driver, building these trust factors takes time and expertise.
You may be in the amazing, enviable position we discussed previously where you already rank for some high value terms. In this case it is purely a case of switching your site to give these users the ability to convert, and you will see the money coming in! However, this usually isn’t the case; if you want to start driving revenue quickly, Google or Bing search adverts are the way to go.
Search engine adverts are fantastic for testing the waters, because you only pay money when a user clicks an advert. By setting the maximum cost you want to pay, you can accurately project what the cost per sale is, using the below formula:
Click Cost / Conversion Rate (you can see this on Google Analytics)
Below is an example:
20p / 5% = £4
You can then deduct this from your average profit per purchase to see if you are making money:
Average transaction value = £46
Average profit = £12
Even with the advertising costs, we are making £8 profit! When you add lifetime value (because if your product is great, people will return) and zero acquisition costs for future purchases, you can begin to clearly see what a great revenue driver this can be!