Considerations for Global e-Marketers

So, you have your online business that’s getting global hits, but, within these markets there are many differences you should be aware of that can help ensure you provide the most value to all your visitors that will help maximize your sales.

In this post, I examine various issues that you should consider when you develop marketing campaigns and applications for your online business.

One of the biggest pitfalls to having a truly successful online business is the failure to realize that dissimilar markets require different needs. This is especially true for people in North America. We’ve become accustom to making instant payments online with PayPal and Google Checkout, and to constantly being connected with very few service interruptions. But the truth is many profitable markets in the rest of the world aren’t as nearly as advanced as North America.

One primary issue to consider is that different markets have different infrastructure. Connection speeds will therefore vary and it could be fairly costly for a user to use the internet. For that reason, you should remember to build your web applications as simply as possible to minimize load times. For example, subscription costs in Japan are about $25 per month, compared to about $50 for comparable service in Switzerland. 

One of the important issues many people fail to consider is that different markets require different payment options. Many companies online only accept direct credit card purchases, however, many people refuse this type of payment and you could be losing sales because of it. Just because people in North America, for example, are more likely to make online purchases with a credit card, doesn’t mean people in Eastern Europe are also as abiding. For example, only 35% of Chechens have credit cards, and only 21% pay with a credit card online (American Chamber of Commerce, 2000). You should really consider offering different payment methods, even if they are slower, because you could actually be loosing sales. For example, when choosing a company to be your web host, you probably had to enter your credit card information to sign up, yet you were probably reluctant to do so, but you still done it, others may refuse to and you could be loosing out.

Another issue to remember is that people in various countries are online with different devices. Today, because of the convergence of the internet, anyone can use a plethora of devices that have different screen sizes. You should remember to build your website that will function on different devices, for example, as more people are using mobile phones to get online and complete transactions, most of these phones do not support flash. For this reason, you should either develop a mobile version of your site, or make flash a non-required element to navigate your website.
Some more issues to consider for your global audience
–    Offer your website in different languages
–    Ensure the same message is conveyed in each language (messages could get lost in translation)
–    Ensure your content doesn’t contradict the values of your visitors

Now, I hope I’ve brought to your attention a few issues that you should be aware of. They seem so simple, yet very few truly consider these basic issues to maximize their ROI. I hope you can now consider your own online business by analyzing who your users are globally, and how you can better serve them by tailoring your website to everyone’s needs.

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Hercules holds a B.Comm Finance from Ryerson University in Toronto, Canada. He is a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) level 3 candidate. He was previously a contributor at FiLife, a finance website owned by Dow Jones and IAC. Write to [email protected]
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