We live in an era where communicating and making businesses global is easier than ever before. Foreign markets and international trade used to be fields for big companies and corporations that may allocate a lot of money for global marketing campaigns. This is not the case, anymore. The Internet and social media give opportunities to start-ups, small businesses, and entrepreneurs to easily explore new markets.
However, the ease of going global and making business abroad sometimes encourages companies to enter new markets without adequate knowledge of their potential customers. The assumption that buyer personas profiles created for your local market also work for a foreign one is one of the biggest mistakes you can make when you try to sell your products or services abroad.
Market research is the most effective means to understand the needs and preferences of potential foreign customers. It is a matter of fact. So, the real issue is not if you have to conduct research to know your audience abroad, but how you can find a cost-effective way to do it. A market research company can be a solution. However, you need to rely entirely on them because you have a limited knowledge of your potential audience in the target market. And it is not a cheap solution.
Instead, you can think about resources that you already have. Your website and the content you created for it. You can create an effective market research independently using your website as a platform to gather insight information to profile your ideal customer in a new market. Besides being a productive way to research a new market, you will be certain that this method targets your real potential clients.
First you need to translate part of the content you published on your website, the "About Us" page and the description of your main product into the language of your foreign audience. Once your content is ready in the target language, it is time to design an eye-catching landing page where you can add the translated content. This page provides the right context for the readers, but it misses the essential aspect of market research: the questionnaire.
It is time to think about the fundamental questions you need to ask to the target audience to create a detailed buyer persona. When the survey is ready, your language service partner will translate it for you. After you make the survey visible above the fold of your landing page, your international market research can start.
So far, the tasks have not been very complicated. Now that you have published your survey, you need to do all your best to reach the right people in your target market and convince them to answer your research to gain the insightful information you need. It may sound a complicated work to accomplish. However, if you do it correctly, you may be able to catch two birds with one stone.
First, you have to reach the right audience. Presumably, if you are planning to enter a new market, you may already have received a few orders or interest from the country you are targeting. Alternatively, you may have noticed an unusual amount of visits to your website from that country. Once again, these resources play into your hands.
Make sure that your existing clients or visitors know that you are surveying the potential audience in their country. You can send them an email if you have their contact details. Alternatively, you can add a link at the top of your webpages to redirect visitors to the research landing page.
Is the number of respondents enough to create a profile of your ideal customer? There is not a definitive answer to this question. What is certain is that the higher is the number of replies and more detailed will be your buyer personas.
You have two ways to reach a larger audience. A PPC campaign in the foreign language or an outreach campaign to present your company to national media and influencers. In both cases, the time you spent in organising your PPC or PR campaign will also be useful in a later stage of your internationalisation.
A Pay-Per-Click campaign will let you build the first group of keywords that will be helpful to create or translate your content for your new audience. On the other hand, an outreach campaign will help build strong relationships with media and influencers in the country you are targeting.
Do you think that they are not viable solutions for you because they may be too expensive? You may be wrong, the market you are targeting may not be as competitive as your local one. This means that is easier to find low-hanging and long tail keywords that work. With a reasonable daily budget, you can reach a well-targeted and broad audience of people. If you organize an outreach campaign, my advice is to find a reliable local outreach expert or a language service provider able to help you with it. Certainly, it will be more expensive, but the investment is well worth.
If you need extra help to gather insightful information, you may also ask respondents to share your survey with their followers or friends on social media. As you know, social media buttons are one of the key elements of a landing page. And, this also applies to your market research page.
If people are visiting your landing page, you are halfway to success. Now, you need to convince your audience to reply to your survey. However, this should not be as complicated as the previous task of attracting visitors to your page. You can offer a discount code for their first order, a freebie or something else that may be useful for them. After all, they are giving you the possibility to have a clear idea of the profiles of your potential customers in your target market. And if you are asking their e-mail addresses, and you should ask for them, you are also creating an email marketing list. A thing that you should not underestimate.
Your visitors are giving you insightful information about their needs and tastes. You can profile your customers in new target markets using resources that you have already created for other purposes.
The cost of translating your content and the questionnaire usually does not exceed $500, and you can think of that fee as more of an investment in your global digital success. Other expenses for the promotion of the survey vary according to your budget and your needs. In any case, it will be much cheaper than the rate of a market research company. And, it will be a much better targeted digital campaign to your real potential clients.
If that is not good enough, you will have the chance to create a mailing list to use when you are ready to launch your product and build valuable relationships with influencers and media in the country you are targeting.
Francesco Cavallone is the founder of In Other Words, a language service provider based in London. In Other Words offers a special designed and comprehensive service, ranging from market research to international SEO for startups & SMBs that are going global. Follow @In_altre_parole on Twitter.
I hope you enjoyed this article about some ways to research a new market on a shoestring budget.
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