The Interconnected World

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Key steps to preparing for, managing and driving global web traffic
By: Tom Hirons, Hirons & Company Communications

America, for all its opportunity, its vast size and its resources, stillamounts to only 4 percent of the world’s population. And while the U.S. has 1/3 of the world’s purchasing power, 2/3 lies beyond our borders.

Two men had the vision to change the way we see the world and thus the way we see commerce. Many credit Pythagoras, the mathematician, whose calculations showed the world to be round, inspiring explorers to seek new trade routes. But it was Thomas Friedman who brought us full circle and proclaimed the world was indeed flat. 

Friedman identified 10 “flatteners” that dramatically reshaped our world and lowered the barriers to international commerce. In this new flat world there is a new virtual world of communication waiting to be harnessed for international business. This begins with your online presence.

There are seven key steps to preparing for, managing and driving global web traffic. Begin with a systematic approach to Google analytics tracking, analysis and content optimization. Search engine optimization (SEO) and search engine marketing (SEM) are generally the two most cost-effective, highest return-on-investment marketing communications activities for global lead-generation. Most global marketers will find a mix of digital marketing, social content, earned media and paid media can be micro-targeted geographically by industry and interest to build target awareness, increase web traffic and open or support international markets.

A deep online presence can serve a growing international business. You are far better off if a prospect or customer can get all the information they want and need from your website in their language. Empower and engage users in lead qualification, self-service and customer service by hosting and managing user groups, forums, FAQs and online reviews. A social presence not only serves the SEO objectives but also enables your international customers to become advocates for your brand.

In a global marketing environment, speed, accuracy and consistency are key. Global marketers will find print-on-demand literature systems and online catalog applications to be two effective strategies for maintaining up-to-date materials and reducing cost by enabling universal changes and updates across literature and catalogs.

In May of 2012, the Harvard Business Review proclaimed, “Global business speaks English.” This was widely misunderstood. It was never intended to presume the world should or would speak English. This article reviewed the conscious decision of leading multinational corporations to speak one language, English, and use it internally around the world for efficient, consistent, timely and accurate business communications. However the language of commerce remains native, and having bilingual staff or first-rate language resources is critical. 

Cultural sensitivity is not limited just to language. Work with professionals who know the implications of color, the presence or absence of diversity, gender-based sensibilities and the impact of both words and graphics. Even if all operations are here in central Indiana, if you are not communicating in native languages of diverse audiences, you are missing key markets.

Language accuracy and cultural sensitivity are essential, yet there are universal communications truths which transcend culture. Creating content that is research driven, relevant, clear, consistent and measurable are proven universal communications truths that will serve you well wherever you take your company, wherever you go and wherever you take your business.

Tom Hirons is founder and CEO of Hirons & Company Communications. Hirons has served a variety of U.S. accounts marketing internationally as well as foreign-based accounts opening U.S. markets. Hirons also managed a Beijing office for three years.

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