Seven Steps for Reaching International Markets Online


European executives are already well acquainted with the benefits of an online presence, particularly the potential for direct contact with clients and 24/7 availability, as well as lower promotion costs when compared with traditional media.

A recent survey revealed that executives have a tendency to pay close attention to their companies’ online development strategies, with 64% of executives working at European level having voiced their intention of increasing their online marketing and SEO budgets.

The current economic instability demands that companies, particularly Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), become more mobile, with the aim of attracting new clients and taking up positions in markets outside of their home country.

However, some entrepreneurs remain unreceptive to the idea of targeting foreign markets. After weighing up the costs of such a venture, if the budget seems formidable and there is sufficient business in their local market to survive, many companies prefer to stick with what they know.

Companies also often make the mistake of not establishing themselves online in foreign languages simply because they have the impression that English is the official language of the internet. What they don’t realise, though, is that by disregarding a foreign language web presence, they are losing out significantly in terms of new clients. Here’s why:

  • 75% of the world’s population speaks little or no English;
  • 40% of internet users are Asian;
  • There are 30% fewer internet users in North America than in China;
  • Four out of five internet users prefer to buy online from sites written in their own native language;
  • Almost 100% of Internet users search local websites.

These statistics present a strong argument for setting to work and formulating a multilingual web-development strategy. But whatever the size or scope of the approach, the following seven steps are crucial:

Step 1 – Identify your target market

First and foremost, it’s essential to analyse the socio-economic environment of the target market to establish whether it offers the necessary conditions in which to take up a position: demand, competition, buying power, potential clients’ living conditions, and attitudes towards foreign businesses. Whether the conditions are favorable or not will depend upon the type of products or services the business offers. As an example, a favorable condition for a translation company is a target country that has a high rate of exports. In Europe, Germany, Scandinavia, Switzerland, the Netherlands and Belgium are all major exporters, and therefore prime target markets for translation services.

Step 2 – Keyword searches

For a new site to achieve high search engine rankings in foreign language searches, keywords are vital. It’s advisable not to directly translate the key terms which produce good results in your home country, as you risk ending up with terms that are not suited to the specific culture of the target country or the search habits of local internet users. In order to be certain of choosing the right terms, use keyword search tools such as Google’s Keyword Tool, WordTracker, Keyword Discovery or SEM Rush. Bear in mind that search trends change regularly in all professional fields, so it’s important to follow these trends using keyword search tools, and subsequently adapt your site content.

Step 3 – Site construction

In terms of site location, you’ll need a domain hosted on a server in the target country for the purpose of credibility – this will also contribute towards boosting the ranking of your site in local search engines.

  • Colours: blue or green backgrounds combined with black/white text have been found to be the colours most universally liked by internet users, while pink and purple are unpopular in traditional cultures.
  • Typeface: use a standard typeface such as Times New Roman, Arial or Verdana so that text displays correctly on all screens.
  • Product names: many consumers, particularly those in Europe, prefer products with technical-sounding names containing numbers, while consumers in the US prefer catchy, buzz-word names; for example, Canon calls one of its cameras the “EOS 400D” in Europe, while in the US it’s called the “Digital Rebel Xti”.

Step 4 – Build links with local sites

To guarantee that your company appears in local search results, look for sites that relate to your industry and try to obtain links on these sites. Local online media can provide you with valuable links if you offer interesting information based on your expertise, and follow their editorial policy.

Step 5 – Use PPC (Pay Per Click) campaigns

Avoid squandering your company’s marketing budget by starting PPC campaigns with local websites, using your most popular search terms. PPC campaigns offer you complete control of your budget, allowing you to more effectively measure the return on investment. It’s also been found that a substantial amount of visits resulting from PPC campaigns convert into sales – however natural traffic should not be overlooked.

Step 6 – Obtain genuine local search results

For improved localisation, and to boost your genuine search results in local search engines based on regional key terms (e.g. “my product/service Stockholm”), buy a virtual office in the target country.

Step 7 – Constantly develop site content

As well as outlining your products and services, presenting the company and providing contact details, the content of your site needs to be constantly updated, offering your users the latest news from your professional field as well as case studies. Think also about launching discussion topics; a good tool for this is a corporate blog.

Following these steps to expand into new foreign markets is a foolproof method of winning new clients, and also building up your professional reputation around the world.

Article by international translation agency Lingo24, founded in the UK. Lingo24 has used e-marketing strategies as part of its global development, and today Lingo24 works with clients from over 60 different countries.

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  • Brilliant copy and paste shithead, for a second I actually thought you could write in articulate english.

  • Ian

    thanks! my english is good aint it.

  • While reading I thought “why is Ian saying colours?” and then I noticed it was a guest post.

    Good post. I liked the stats about users on the internet. If people in the US can make that much money just in this country what could you do if you spoke Chinese?

  • i’d be curious if it’s better to use a .com or to use the country’s local domain extension (.cn,, .ru, etc).

  • 100% True! I know this. 75% of my customers reside in South East Asia or Pacific Islands.

  • I think 40% of internet users are Asian because they’re not really busy, not unlike the busyness of the world of 1st or 2nd world countries.

  • Now your talking International language of money making!

    We need some Pingo affiliate reps to talk our Int. Lingo!

    Brian AM @ Pingo

  • Helpful hints, thanks man!

  • Good post. I liked the stats about users on the internet. If people in the US can make that much money just in this country what could you do if you spoke Chinese?

  • @Home Improvement . Good Point, that is super niche markets we gotta find. I sell BAPE to JAPAN 😉

  • @Exposed SEO. Our testing showed that it would be better to use the local domain extension.

  • Both local domain extension and a local host would be ideal.

  • I agree. International markets do have a lot of potential for businesses but many choose not to enter these markets for fear of venturing outside their comfort zone (like you mentioned in the post).

  • I totally agree, there are a lot of chinese user in China that prefers to read in Chinese instead of english. These are people that english targeted websites are missing out.

  • ‘75% of the worldâ??s population speaks little or no English’ and
    ‘40% of internet users are Asian’.These are unbelievable facts you have put in your blog post.Are you sure that that these statistics are really true.

    These will encourage people to go for regional domain extension.

  • While it may seem like a good idea to expand to other foreign markets, be sure to do sufficient research. Target the wrong country and you might not get any additional sales. You have to consider things like how wealthy countries are and whether it is financially viable to ship your products there.

  • Mr Su

    @Reverse Phone Lookup. Let’s see, using numbers from Google.
    Population of Earth, ~6,500 million.
    Population of the major English speaking countries (USA, CA, UK+RI, AU, NZ, SA, not 100% of these countries speak English either mind you) together, comes to 475 million. Add an extra 15% of the rest just for good measure, comes to ~1,500 million.

    Even with that generous figure, that’s only 23%. Lingo24 weren’t too far off.

    Unbelievable facts? The world’s a big place buddy. Asia alone has over 50% of the world’s population, not including all the emigrants.

  • @Mr Su , research well done Mr.Su

  • Mr Su


    Thanks mate. A lot of people in this industry don’t realise the potential of the international markets, better for you and I, I guess. Non-US don’t seem to convert as well for us compared to US, but generally offer a greater return. 40% of our income is from the European markets, mainly thanks to my assistant’s knowledge of Swedish/Norwegian/Finnish/French/German and I don’t think I’d be here if it wasn’t for that.

    Hell, even running products here in Australia using non-US standard language does great. Aussies & Kiwis seem to see through foreign copy very well…

  • @Mr Su, Yea Absolutely . have to research international markets to find out hot demands.

  • Helpful article, the 7 steps made it really easy to follow along. 🙂

  • If you are trading overseas, consult your bankers about what facilities might be available. Apart from the exposure to exchange rate risk, you might not want to provide open account facilities to new customers, especially where there are difficulties in ascertaining reliable credit risk information, or where the local legal environment does not seem to support contractual rights as strongly as you might wish. So letters of credit – and there are many differing types – or other trade financing instruments may provide a solution.

  • Hey Ian, this looks simple enough to do, if someone follows these steps and puts it to real action, I could see it working out.

    Till then,


  • Yes although you might make less money per international visitor, there are a lot of untapped international markets that can be very easy to get relevant traffic for. Paid traffic is sure to be cheaper from those countries.

  • I agree. International markets do have a lot of potential for businesses but many choose not to enter these markets for fear of venturing outside their comfort zone (like you mentioned in the post).

    Thanks Ian

  • that first comment was harsh

  • Thanks for sharing the great info that green or blue background is good universally.
    Although you are free to go international with your online business but your profits or conversion rates may not be not that high in every country.

  • @Exposed SEO – Is that you Ilia? It has been a while since I’ve seen you around the blogosphere! I’m heading over to your blog now to see if there is stuff happening there! Cheers!

  • There is another important thing. When you go international you have follow the rules of that particular country. Don’t think that everywhere is same.

  • These stats never cease to amaze me. They change our whole perspective sometimes. I never knew 40% of internet users are Asian. That’s a pretty amazing stat and great signs of online penetration.

  • Most important is keyword researching according to country and business, that is very important tip given by you.

  • Helpful article, the 7 steps made it really easy to follow along ;))

  • I was very pleased to find this site.I wanted to thank you for this great read!! I definitely enjoying every little bit of it and I have you bookmarked to check out new stuff you post.

  • I enjoyed this article. We all know we should be tackling the international market, but now I have and idea how to do this. Thanks!

  • Admondrays

    I am totally agree with you. This is how we can tackle with the coming problems. Thanks to Christian for making it very easy for everyone to cope with the market.