Building a global Web presence? Act local, think global

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One of the biggest marketing challenges for a U.S.-based company is developing a truly global Web presence. A common approach is to take an existing, U.S.-constructed site and simply “internationalize” it through systematic language translation. While this may appear to be the easiest solution, it is not often the best way to build and maintain a global online brand presence.

The global audience is broader and more diversified, with different consumption habits than in the U.S., and therefore requires different kinds of content. The user experience is different across countries as well, so simply translating text and reusing images becomes an ineffective way to tap into regional expression. Besides, there are no truly automated translation services, so the process of translation is not exactly an easy one.

What is the best way to approach the problem? The simple answer, simply put, is to think globally and act locally.

A global Web information architecture should be structured in a way to allow regions to not only customize, but organize content and order information based on their local marketing priorities.

Use the analogy of a house. When building a global website, it’s best to build a simplified structure that can be modified regionally rather than developing a fully built house for countries to just add window treatments. The brand, messaging and basic product information should be there, but there should also be opportunities for regional decoration, which in this case means content.

All this creates a greater responsibility for a global Web team. Rather than having a U.S.- based team acting globally, more effective regionalization can be developed with a truly global team acting together. Today there are tools available that enable the tracking of translations to allow a central marketing organization to see what and how content has been translated in order to maintain message consistency.

To summarize, here are some recommendations to create an effective global Web presence:

  • Create a truly global, empowered Web organization.
  • Create a Web architecture that represents your brand across the world but is simple enough to allow for regional customization.
  • Create unique, local content that best supports regional marketing objectives.

What global Web challenges have you experienced?

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