How to Optimize Your Site for an International Audience

If you work with an American company that does business internationally, it can be easy to see your website only from the perspective of your US audience. However, if you want to reach your international audience effectively, you will have to consider how your website appeals to users in other countries.

While creating an international marketing campaign can be a lengthy and expensive process, we’re going to talk about a few small things you can do to improve the experience of your international audience.

Breaking the Language Barrier

One of the greatest website challenges for an American-owned-and-operated international business is language barrier. If your company sells to countries that speak a language other than English, you have to consider this challenge in your online marketing strategy.

Let’s talk about two options for remedying this issue:

If it’s in your budget, the best option would be to hire someone to translate your website. You can then have multiple versions of your website for each target country, or you can allow visitors to select the language they would like to view the site in.

A great example of a company that does this well is IBM. On their website, IBM has a small map at the top of the site that a user can click on and select their preferred language.

If you decide to translate your website, it’s very important that the translator is fluent in the language and can translate without flaw. Having errors in translation throughout your site can reflect negatively on your company. Depending on how many languages you would need to translate and how expansive your website is, professional translation services can be a large and expensive undertaking.

Another option is to install a website translator tool on your site. This can be set to display at the top of the website, and visitors can select the language they want to use. It’s important to understand that translator tools will not translate your website perfectly. However, this is relatively simple and cost-effective option.

Displaying That You’re International

Make it apparent to your website visitors that you are an international company. There are many ways to do this: through text, images or a tab in your main navigation for “International Sales.” Adding an International Sales tab is a great way to alert visitors that you do business internationally, as well as provide a place for helpful information to your international customers.

Saving Your Reader Time

One thing to keep in mind is that Internet access isn’t always the same in other countries as it is in the United States. Users may have a poor Internet connection or slow service, or they may pay for the amount of time that they are online.

To help your customers out, try to make your site’s load time as fast as possible. Additionally, try to provide users with as much information as you can on the main screen that is displayed without scrolling. The space allotment can vary by screen and device, but keep in mind that having less on the page is better. Make it as easy as possible for users to find what they need in as few clicks as possible. This will help users easily navigate through the site and save them time online.

Making Contact Easy

Be sure to list your phone number on the website in international dial code format to make it easy for international customers to call you. International dial code requires you place “+1” in front of your local number. For example, Full Media’s phone number written in international dial code format would be: +1(770).534.2515.

If your website has a contact form, carefully consider what fields should appear in it.  For example, names vary greatly by culture. Forms in the United States will typically list a First Name and Last Name field. However, this may be confusing for international users. It would be better to have one box for the full name.

Consider differences in address formats, as these may vary from country to country. States and ZIP codes are a great example of this.

Keep the number of required fields to a minimum. Determine what information you must have and what is just helpful. There may be some additional information that you would like to capture, but it’s not worth losing a contact with an international client over.

Wrapping Things Up

When a user’s only engagement with you is through your website, their experience can make or break that user’s loyalty to your company. This is why it’s always important to consider user experience of both your United States and international customers.

For more information or for help optimizing your website for international business, contact Full Media today!

Internet Marketing Team Leader
Kathryn is the Internet Marketing Team Leader in Full Media's Chattanooga office. In her role, Kathryn helps clients grow their online presence creatively and strategically through search engine optimization, online public relations, social media and email marketing. Kathryn is an alumna of the University of Georgia with a degree in public relations and an emphasis in writing.