In today’s globalising world, due to the growth in technology and fast internet, it is easier than ever for businesses to approach customers based in different parts of the world. Trading abroad and penetrating new, foreign markets is quickly becoming a very important aspect of business growth. This trend is especially visible within the UK SME sector, where small and medium sized businesses decide to expand onto new markets with the help of technology. Indeed, what even just 15 years ago seemed almost impossible, is a reality today. Nowadays technology allows business owners to trade their products and services abroad without the need, quite literally, of leaving their office. Having your e-commerce website and marketing material carefully planned, designed and executed can attract foreign customers. Nevertheless, this is often easier said than done. Here are a few factors which you should pay close attention to when targeting foreign customers.

Speak in their language

A number of studies have shown that a rapidly growing number of consumers purchase goods from retailers based elsewhere than their home country regularly. Nevertheless, what’s also important, is the fact that 95% of those consumers feel more inclined to finalise the purchase, if information about the product or service was available in their native language. Being able to ‘speak’ your customer’s mother language can often be the difference between succeeding and failing on a foreign market.


An important aspect of approaching markets abroad is having your website and marketing material carefully translated in order to ensure that your message is fully understood by the potential customer. There is a number of ways in which this can be approached, from the use of free online translation tools to working with a professional translation agency. Although the latter option may be more time consuming and more expensive, it is still highly recommended for businesses to work with a language agency specialising in translation services.

Such companies will not only ensure that your text is translated word-for-word, but what’s also significant, will localise your message for the target audience. Just because something worked perfectly fine in your home market, doesn’t mean it’ll be a success abroad. In fact, a number of companies make the mistake and take ‘one for all’ approach, using the same message, product etc. in all target markets, without any adjustments. As consumer behaviour varies from market to market, it is key to ensure that each of your target groups is approached from an individual angle. A professional translation agency will take into account factors such as the political, social or economic situation and adjust your message to make sure it is not only true to its original meaning, but also culturally appropriate.

Translate your website

In majority of cases, your website will be the first point of contact between you and the customer. It’s key to bear in mind that not everyone is able to understand English and therefore translating the content of your website, especially when approaching foreign markets, is key. Again, free tools such as Google Translate can be really great if you’re working on a strict budget, yet, they do not always guarantee accuracy and reliability. To ensure that your business comes across professionally and that your website content is translated accurately and consistently, it is recommended to work with an agency which specialises in website translation services. Additionally, it is important to ensure that, similarly to your marketing material, your website is also fully localised. Dates, currency or even colours can have a direct impact on your visitor’s decision making and consumer behaviour.

Think of search

Making sure that your business is visible to your potential customers is key, and what better way of doing just that than with organic search? Paying a close attention to international SEO and optimising your website for your target market can ensure that your potential customers can find your website easily through search engines. This however, is a difficult process and another area where translation services can play a vital role. In many cases, a target keyword which works well in one country might lose its value if translated literally. A great example of this could be the keyword ‘translation agency’. This phrase is highly competitive in the United Kingdom, but in Germany, for example, people simply do not search for ‘translation agency’ and search for a ‘translation bureau’ instead.

As you can see, it is very dangerous to literally translate keywords without a prior research into the target market and fully understating its consumers.

Translations can certainly help your business grow abroad. This however, if done professionally, can be a lengthy and pricey process. Nevertheless, it is highly recommended working with agencies specialising in providing such services as not only they will be able to accurately translate your content, but will also ensure that your material is carefully localised, especially for the audience you want to address.

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