Small businesses everywhere are embracing the opportunities that can be found in doing business globally. Using your website to sell to customers across the world is a relatively simple and low cost way of increasing sales. However converting your website into something that is going to perform on the global stage takes planning and careful consideration.
Luckily however there are lots of clever people in the world who develop software and solutions to make our lives a little easier.
So here’s 10 essential website marketing resources that could help boost your global sales on your website whether you are starting from scratch or looking to improve your current site.
It is critical to lay the foundations of a global site with a CMS that can handle the job in hand. Although there are plenty of options out there such as Joomla, Drupal, Magnolia and Locomotive CMS, you are still hard pressed to beat Word Press. It’s not ideal for every website but in terms of simplicity and the number of localization and internationalization plugins it offers, it’s a rock-solid starting point.
#2. Google Translate
If you want to sell to customers in another country, you have to sell in their language. Translation of your content is therefore important. Over the past 3 years we have seen an explosion of websites and companies now offering “automated translation” of content. Now let’s be clear – these aren’t great or ideal – but if you can’t afford a professional translation then this is as good as it gets. Google Translate might produce the occasional gobbledygook but it serves a purpose and more importantly lets you input your own translations (once you are able to).
Customer service is important no matter where you are. Having an online chat facility is a great way of giving good service across times zones and languages. ChatStat, for example, offer live messaging software as well as web analytics, remote sharing, live translation and even a call centre. Communicating with your clients clearly and in a timely manner will help convert enquiries into sales and maintain great service.
Getting paid is probably the be all and end all when it comes to selling from your website. You need the platform, the currencies, the language and the correct forms. There is now much more choice when it comes to finding a payment gateway. However Paypal is truly international, free to set up and very easy to implement. The charges might be a touch higher than competitors but for the ease and solutions it offers you, it’s a great place to start.
Not everyone around the world has superfast broadband or internet access. You have to make sure people are able to download your site in a reasonable time or they’ll be off! WebPagetest lets you speed test your website from multiple locations around the globe using real browsers (IE and Chrome) and at real consumer connection speeds. You can then discover areas for improvement to help the user experience and improve sales.
#6. Search Latte
Before you start writing or translating content for a new target country, make sure you first research what terms people are using in that country to find your service or products. Although Google offers such help you should also check out the very neat Search Latte which allows you to pick your country, language, domains and keywords before giving you the results that should inform some of your SEO strategy.
Chances are if you are moving into another country you will have local competitors already online. Using something like SimilarWeb helps you identify the influential websites within a sector or your particular space. This can then help inform your pricing, customer service, SEO, etc. It can also be used to tap into established communities for example by identifying a competitor’s Twitter following and then opening up a dialogue to gain interest in your own products or service.
If you’re going global then remember that people around the globe use different machines and different browsers. Browsershots will test your website’s compatibility across multiple browsers from across the world as well as allow you to test factors such as screen size, Java, Flash, etc which may also impact the users’ experience of your website.
#9. Extreme Tracking
Once your website is up and running you need to know who is visiting and where from. Google Analytics will do this job but also have a look at others such as Extreme Tracking which can offer you a little more for your money. It’s a bit more interactive and when needing specific information about regions it provides ample statistics.
#10. Survey Gizmo
If you want to ensure you are delivering quality to your international customers, you need to know what they think about you. Using an online survey tool such as Survey Gizmo allows you to produce surveys in different languages along with fancy stats and graphs to help you see the bigger picture.