Your business website is the public face of your business and is a very effective marketing tool. You should manage it carefully and use it to its full potential.
For most small businesses the internet is by far the most powerful marketing tool available. You can connect with customers worldwide for free or at very little cost. You also have the ability to sell directly online, gather customer feedback and monitor customer usage - all invaluable for any marketing campaign.
When doing business in another country it is wise to reassess your online strategy to get the most out of each market. You should consider:
- language - think about whether you should create a simple translation of your website or create individual websites for each market
- internet access - while the UK has widespread broadband access, customers in other countries may not wish to use graphic-intensive websites
- cultural differences - customers in some countries may prefer simple, easy-to-access information while others prefer more design-led websites
The only way to decide the best online strategy is to speak to people in each market and understand what they respond to. If possible carry out user testing or work with a local web design company, as they will have additional insight about user trends.
For example, German customers spend less time on average on each webpage and prefer to find the information they are looking for quickly, compared with UK users who are happier to spend more time browsing.
Affiliate marketing is an online strategy where you offer partners or affiliates a commission on any customers they bring to your site. This is normally done on a cost-per-click basis.
This can be an extremely powerful way of finding customers in a new country. Visitors who arrive from a similar site are much more likely to be interested in your products. You could find out which websites are popular in a country and contact them directly to set up agreements. There is also a wide range of software tools and pre-existing networks that can help spread your message.