This is not a comprehensive list of the things that you’ll need to do to prepare your Internet business for globalization, but you need to start somewhere. And if you haven’t started yet, now is the time. This quote in a recent press release from comScore says it all: “Internet users outside the U.S. now account for 80% of the world’s online population, with rapidly developing countries experiencing double-digit growth rates year-over-year.”
Let me repeat that – 80% of the world’s online population is made up of Internet users outside the U.S. Internet users are multinational. It’s time to get started on this. Here’s how.
1) Make sure your tech people at every level of the organization know the strategic plan for globalization. You may or may not have a CIO or CTO who typically sits at the table for strategic technology planning, but do not leave even the lower-level tech folks out of the discussion on this issue. For globalization to even have a chance at working, the technology behind your site needs to support globalization. And that technology is fairly complicated. My (incredibly) simplified understanding of the issue is that you need to use Unicode. But trust me, there’s way more to it. Just take a look at Microsoft’s “Globalization Step-by-Step.” You need your tech people on this one.
2) Get psyched up about hiring someone who lives and works outside of the country in which you operate. In order to effectively localize your site so that it really works for people in the country that you’re trying to reach, you’re going to need to hire someone who actually lives in that country. This is the only way that you’ll be able to avoid creating a site that – for the lack of a better way to describe it – feels weird to the local users.
3) Pick your short list of target countries. Just because you’re starting to look into globalization, that doesn’t mean that you should tackle every country at once. One suggestion is to take a look at the international traffic that is already coming to your Web site by examining your site analytics or log files. Chances are that the countries that are sending you a lot of traffic before you’ve done anything to your site are going to continue to provide a good market for your products and services.
4) Register your domain name with the appropriate country-code top-level domains. There are rules that apply to the registering of these domains – some countries require citizenship, for example – but it is always worth trying to get the country-appropriate domain name to support your site.
5) Practice patience. Just like your original business wasn’t built in a day, neither will your international extensions. It will take time for the local versions of your site to take off and for your site to become established in the markets that you’re trying to penetrate. Stick with it.
~ Today’s view: http://www.flickr.com/photos/13799608@N08/1439224573/