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Today's marketers have perfected the art of testing. It's what makes us more effective at delivering the results expected of us. We test landing pages, subject lines, Web layouts, and other elements of our marketing conversations—with good reason.

According to HubSpot, A/B testing of landing pages (PDF) can generate up to 30-40% more leads for B2B sites and 20-25% more leads for e-commerce sites. Data has even shown that A/B testing for President Obama's website during his 2008 campaign accounted for roughly $75 million more in donations to his campaign and 4 million new website registrants.

So, why not apply these same time-honored testing skills to the globalization of all your marketing campaigns and content?

Can You Really Test Geographical Markets?

Marketers typically feel they need to "go all in" in markets that have been deemed by sales or research to be viable sources of revenue for a company. They translate the entire website, sales collateral, promotional materials, and marketing campaigns into a given language, then hope for good returns from that market.

As an experienced marketer, I am a staunch believer in localizing all customer touchpoints, and I also think testing the potential of new markets before you jump into them is wise. That will ensure you're always optimizing the global profit potential for your company.

How can you "test" geographical markets as a marketer?

You can use the marketing automation platform you already have to send local language campaigns to target audiences in a few markets, set up a few core Web pages, and compare response rates to determine where and when to invest in further localization.

Doing so will not only give you measurable data around market feasibility, but it will also help your team create higher-performing content for that region or country in the future, stretch Marketing's limited human and financial resources, and—with a bit of luck—uncover new opportunities for sales that could lead to a new sales office.

Why Isn't Every Company Doing This Type of Testing?

After all, plenty of data proves what should otherwise be blatantly intuitive: Global online consumers prefer to see localized content. And at the same time, marketers are armed with more tools than ever before so they can do things differently than they have been.

But in regards to globalization, myriad marketers and the companies they work for are stuck in the non-agile ways of the past. They invest a lot of time and money building whole new websites, sales tools, and content. The company localizes the product, including all in-product content, documentation, system email notifications, and more. They take months and months to do this.

After all that time and effort, what happens if these particular markets aren't as lucrative as expected? Do you continue to allocate the resources to maintain these localized Web properties, campaign assets, and sales tools and hope for the best? Or do you cut bait and call it a day?

At the other extreme, marketers send non-translated campaigns to new markets trying to gauge viability. But that almost always will give a false read because without localized content, you're much less likely to engage your audience and convert buyers.

Marketers take this path anyway because their earlier experiences localizing campaigns in their marketing automation system or Web CMS have been so tedious. They figure, "Why bother until we have more resources and know whether this market is right for us?" 

Expenses should chase revenue.

Tips for Profitable Global Expansion

With that in mind, I recommend a smarter, revenue-first approach to globalization—one that mitigates risk, allocates resources wisely, and aligns with your company's business strategy.

Here's a recipe for profitable global expansion.

  1. Evaluate the market research and sales feedback to identify new markets with the most potential for success.
  2. Test each new market by sending out some targeted local language campaigns. This is easily and quickly achieved by localizing campaign content right inside your marketing automation software (such as Marketo or Eloqua).
  3. Localize some key Web pages using content that lives in your CMS (such as Drupal or Adobe Experience Manager).
  4. Review campaign response rates and Web traffic analytics to determine which markets demonstrated the most interest in your products and messaging.
  5. Roll out increasing amounts of localized content, and continue to test and optimize it for specific markets. When the time is right, you can put more feet on the local streets, too.

Rinse, lather, repeat. That couldn't be easier, especially if you have the right technology working for you to globalize the rest of your technology investments.

There is a lot of untapped opportunity for growth around the globe. What in the world are you waiting for?

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
image of Heidi Lorenzen

Heidi Lorenzen is chief marketing officer of Cloudwords, a cloud-based platform that turbocharges the globalization of marketing content for the world's leading brands.

LinkedIn: Heidi Lorenzen

Twitter: @hlorenzen