This article, written by Michael Kriz, was originally published by Vator.tv in May, 2012.
With huge revenue growth potential in global markets, can your business afford to ignore economic power overseas? If you’ve had your eye on the increasingly affluent consumers in Turkey, China, Indonesia or even closer to home in Mexico, now is the time to position your brand to receive a piece of the pie.
Where do you go first? Full translation and localization of your business’s website and operations is a significant commitment, one you’ll only want to undertake when you’re sure of the stamps you want on your brand’s passport. The microsite could be your equivalent of “try before you buy.”
Why a Microsite?
A microsite is a scaled down, focused destination online to introduce new markets to your brand, help you gauge demand, and judge whether or not you have the appetite for more.
Just like start-ups that build proof-of-concept apps to “fail fast or scale fast,” the microsite enables you to test markets and explore questions. Do you need your entire product catalog in Japanese? How will you fare against competitors already in your space? What would surprise you? How would you test for that?
Best Practices for Your Microsite
How you invest in a microsite strategy and execute will have a dramatic impact on how much you learn about international customers. Here are five best practices to consider for your global microsite launches:
1. Find Your Why, Analyze Your How
To maximize the return on your research, you’ll need to understand what it is, exactly, that you want to learn. Why did you choose these markets in the first place? What about this country made you feel your product or service might be a natural fit? Is it a competitive move to lay claim to the space? Is there a trend or a gap in the market that you can capitalize on or fill?
How you express this “why” is vital. If you ship physical products, you’ll need to understand how to fulfill orders internationally. Some companies may not be comfortable with this until they have in-country operations. However, if you have capabilities to sell into the market from existing operations (or online), consider the range of products or services you want to offer and the larger organizational implications of those choices.
2. Define Goals
Microsites tend to be goal-oriented. When someone visits, what would you consider a metric of success? Do you want them to register for more information? Provide feedback on a survey? Order a free sample? Don’t translate a word until you understand how you will measure success.
3. Less is More than Enough
Translation and localization costs climb primarily due to the volume of content that must be managed by your translation agency. The more you can focus your content, the less expensive the project is likely to be. If possible, restrict your microsite to a single product or service, or use it as a portal for brand awareness.
4. Build Specifically for Your Audience
Projecting cultural assumptions on international markets is a common pitfall. Localizing your business is more than the art of translation — in some instances, it may be more advantageous to create unique content specific to the country of choice. You’ll also need to vet your imagery and idioms for any accidentally offensive or embarrassing content. Try and understand the way in which your market interacts with brands online. How mobile are they? What are their platforms of choice?
One strategy you may consider is the creation of a core microsite for international audiences which restricts the focus of your content to only the elements you would want to bring to global markets. From there, you can adapt this “global demo” to the specific markets as needed.
5. Practice Language-Specific Marketing
Naturally, you’ll need to promote your microsite. But is Facebook the social network of choice in Japan? Which search engine is right in China? Again, what’s popular in the U.S. might not translate to what’s popular in other countries. Not only will you need to consider the right platforms, but you’ll also need to optimize your efforts for international search and invest in keyword marketing. While the specifics are somewhat beyond the depth of this article, you’ll want to design your microsite with search engine optimization (SEO) localization in mind, and that may include foreign hosting, keyword seeding, local-language link building and other activities. A capable translation agency can assist you with the details.
With these tips and the right translation partner, you’re poised to learn a great deal for the fraction of the cost of a full international website launch. If you’d like to explore a microsite strategy, contact Acclaro today for a free quote.