Winning Foreign Markets, LinkedIn and Survey Monkey Style

Only about 5% of companies that tried to go global have really nailed sustainable global growth. That’s what said Talia Baruch, product and new Markets strategy executive for Google, LinkedIn, and Survey Monkey.

The localization expert took the stage of the RD Summit 2018, in Brazil, to talk about how brands can adapt their products so they make sense in global multicultural marketplaces.

How will your international customer discover your product? In which local platforms are they? Which search engines work they prefer, will they love your product? These are some essential questions to ask yourself when considering expansion.

Talia Baruch

Most brands are not at all prepared to reach out properly to the aimed foreign audience. “The problem is that when companies are ready to go international, their entire product proposition usually is based on their own language and cultural habits”, says Baruch.

For the executive, the secret for a successful international expansion is integrating local cultural factors into the product plan/strategy before even considering launching the product in a new, unknown foreign market with nuances that are so different from those the brand is used to.

Talia Baruch at the RD Summit 2018Talia Baruch at the RD Summit 2018

We could take from Baruch’s speech at the conference, that there are three key points that are common for companies that have already dominated international markets.

Being Innovative

Baruch affirms that the companies with better chances of growth are those that are able to innovate fast, predicting future regional gaps and responding to them ahead of their competitors.

She mentions Uber, which is very successful in Latin America because they are answering a local gap, providing easy transportation service in a region where the public transportation system is flawed.

Having a value proposition

From a top-funnel perspective on the acquisition of new customers for a SaaS product, many people might sign up, but if they don’t find value on the product, they won’t keep using it. Baruch mentioned the “leaky bucket theory”, stating that losing prospects are something entrepreneurs don’t want, they need quality leads.

The SurveyMonkey executive gives two solutions for brands to create more value:

– addressing local expected behavior and compliance to attract top of funnel engaged new sign-ups.
– doing A/B test results, to create the best value proposition possible

Localizing the product according to the audience’s geoenvironment

Translation alone is not enough to grow long-term adoption in new markets. For Baruch, there is a misconception mindset that keeps most companies from success.

“It’s not just about the international audience understanding the product, but the product understanding their international customer within the context of their ‘geoenvironment'”. says, with the last expression meaning all the geographic and cultural factors that influence their decisions and behavior patterns.

Choosing the right market

But, how do you choose where to start? Which foreign market is a good starting point?

Each market has its own factors that may arouse the interest of companies all over the world. According to Baruch, though, emerging markets are great opportunities for international expansion since they are extremely flexible and respond fast to quick market changes.

For the expansion specialist, data analysis is still the best way to choose where to move a business to, as it gives you the best insights for you to make the right decisions in each nation.

Here are 8 factors that businesses should focus your data research on when considering to which foreign nation they are going to expand to, according to Baruch.

Internet connectivity: this is a big regional factor. Companies need to expand to countries where internet penetration is good in order to be able to reach more customers. Top-ranked nations in the number of internet users are China with 772M users, India with 462M, USA with 312M and Brazil with 150M. Source: Internet Life Stats.

Online shopping quality: More than the number of online shoppers, you need to consider the quality of these shoppers. Japan might be one of the world’s leaders when it comes to ecommerce, with more than 82.59 million ecommerce users. Yet, according to the executive from SurveyMonkey, only 20% of them shop from foreign websites, reducing the number of potential customers of an international store to something around 10 million. Brazil, on the other hand, had in 2017 a total of 55,15 million online shoppers, yet, researches show that every year around 50% of Brazilians virtual consumers shop from international websites.

Mobile penetration: Understanding the mobile penetration and if the region you are seeking to expand to is mobile-first is essential for you to have a successful marketing entry. If that is the case, Baruch says it is important for companies to develop not only a mobile app but also a fully mobile-optimized website. She also adds that simply translating the interface to a foreign language is not enough, you need to develop it according to the local audience’s taste.

Pricing culture: Just like Bill Macaitis said in his speech about the success of Unicorn companies at the same event, Baruch mentioned that you need to analyze what is the region’s pricing culture. While in Germany, people are usually really cost-sensitive, in Japan if you position your pricing plan as free, customers might perceive the product as low value. 

Payment habits: Baruch says that enabling local payments its important not only for your customers but also for your partners. She adds that using reverse IP to set the right pricing customer (and, thus, the right checkout experience) is a good way for a brand to adapt the product to the region they are selling to. “Sometimes just a simple UI interaction can improve your customer experience and increase sales”.

She also states that the thing businesses want the least is involuntary churn, which can happen especially because of the lack of the right payment methods. “Netflix has more than 20 different payment processors, Airbnb launched the boleto cash payment option for their Brazilian customers [with EBANX, by the way] and experienced a significant increase in sales, Japanese shoppers use JCB and the list goes on”


Summing up

Each country has different needs and is on a different stage. Concerning your expansion strategy, first, you need to understand if you want to work with your brand awareness, brand loyalty or conversion rates and then define assertive strategies to achieve your goals in each region.