A move into an international market is a big step for a UK based startup. If you have a cross market product and want to tap into an international customer base, there are a number of things to consider. It’s not just about buying domains and translating your website, there are payment options to consider, pricing structures, purchasing power and internet penetration to name but a few.
The originally Melbourne based 99designs have devised an approach to internationalisation by staying local to go global and we wanted to share some findings and tips that will help you take your business international.
So my first piece of advice is to utilise your current home country market. Use your solid customer base to test new products, launches, marketing strategies and see what really works. Tighten up your business model and examine your launch challenges in the UK. Will these issues reoccur in a new market or are there other challenges out there? Set yourself realistic goals and place capital behind them. This capital may be for staff, technology or marketing but set aside budget to give your launch the best chance.
Are any of your competitors already in the region or are there more regional competitors to consider? Establishing contact with your competitors can provide valuable insight into what their experiences have been.
So what do we mean by going local to go global? For each country that we are present in, we have placed a regional country manager. Not only does this eradicates time zone and language barriers, but also will give you cultural and economic information that will help you intelligently drive your business. This gives you a face and a presence in your chosen marketplace, able to easily represent you at events, meetings and build trust within your marketplace abroad.
With a regional country manager, it allows you to offer customer support via phone, chat or email in real time, whilst providing a local knowledge of any culture or economic issues. It also means that not only is any translation accurate, but also you can adapt your marketing messages per market.
Our top piece of advice is to invest in the technology to make your international push seamless. Not only do websites have to be localised, but payment methods and currency conversions must be accurate to build consumer trust. Remember your website is usually the first thing your customer will see. By adapting country specific payment rates, this will significantly increase your conversions.
And finally, allow yourself enough time. Customising a website, the hiring process, adapting your messaging and ironing out any bugs all takes considerable amounts of time. The move into a foreign market may be challenging, however the benefits greatly outweigh the challenges. If you’d like to learn more, Patrick Llewellyn, CEO of 99designs presented at The Next Web Summit about internationalisation, check out the video: