The internet has made the whole world into a marketplace for a wide variety of products and services that can be marketed and sold online.
Selling around the world from your website may have become logistically easy, but there are a lot of ways that you can increase your success rates, help international visitors to find and navigate your offering, and make them buy more.
1: Make their buying experiences local
From offering payment in different currencies, to making your website easily available in different languages, it’s worth taking a critical look at your site from the perspective of someone in a different country. What are their expectations? What is the ‘norm’ in their market?
As an extension of this, make yourself aware of the different laws you’ll be bound by, and of the different cultural practices that could exist too. Special offers like ‘buy one, get one free’ aren’t legal in every country.
The Department for International Trade may be able to offer support with this.
2: Manage how you’re viewed online
How often do you put your company name into a search engine, and see what comes up? Information about your brand and your product that’s visible from searches will have a significant impact on a potential customer’s decisions about buying from you.
Apply this principle to social media, too, making sure you consider which forms are popular in your chosen markets – countries like China see very different prevalent platforms to western countries. Search for your business name, or the names of products or services you provide, and see what your customers might be saying that they aren’t tagging you in.
Make sure you engage with positive feedback, searching out brand ambassadors, and take a measured view about whether you can change those with more negative view to have a better experience of you.
Services like Google Alerts can be great to help you track conversations about your brand online.
3: Speed is of the essence
If a customer can make a purchasing decision in minutes, they won’t expect to have to wait to hear back from you. The days of the 24-hour turnaround are gone; success in this era is measured, instead, in minutes.
Can you automate any of the process? Order confirmations, stock checking, dispatch notices, and feedback requests are all things you could consider allowing to happen by themselves.
4: Consider investing in lead nurturing
For every sale you make, how many people visit your site but don’t make a purchase? And at what point in the sales cycle do you lose these people?
Capturing data about people who navigate your website is the first step to understanding how you can nurture more of those leads from suspect, to prospect, to lead, to customer.
It’s an efficient way of gathering information about what a customer might need at different stages of their journey, what their questions are, and what the barriers are to making the purchase.
The intelligent use of data is the most critical thing a business can do to stimulate online sales. Whether it be people who’ve engaged with you but never purchased, or existing customers that you can upsell or cross-sell to, they’re the low hanging fruit of the marketing world because they’re already aware of your brand.
Keep your approaches personal, and try to use all the information you have to be as targeted with your offering as possible.
Clean your data as you go to keep this process effective, and listen to the responses you get as they can inform how you do this in the future.
6: Personalise the experience
If a prospective customer lands on your homepage, and their native language is not English, is it obvious where to go and what to do? Could you create a personalised homepage in a different language that a search engine could take them to? Paid search gives you this opportunity, and can really help to bridge the gap between countries and cultures.
7: Limit their choices
When presented with too many choices, customers can get ‘stuck’ in the process of making a purchasing decision. Make sure your offering is clear and concise, and structure your website in a way that allows customers to see the products or services that most closely match their buying requirements.
Make use of functions like ‘suggested products’ or ‘other users bought’ to link purchases together and show alternatives, and use large, clear buttons to help customers know they can add those directly to their cart.
8: No unexpected costs
This is the primary reason that shopping carts are abandoned online. Things like shipping costs, or local taxes, being added at the last minute can throw customers off and prevent them completing their purchases.
Make those costs transparent, and use technology to make sure they’re updated in real-time along with the total value of the cart. If you offer a variety of shipping options, allow the customer to make this choice early in the buying process, and if you offer discounts then make them easy for customers to redeem.
Don’t forget to add ‘help’ or customer service contacts at this point, too, and if you can give different language options for those channels – even better!
Want to know more about selling internationally? Take a look at the support available.