Think Regional in 2015

As the need to serve new and emerging markets will continue to increase in 2015, B2B brands need to ensure their digital presence is tailored to regional audiences. Brands have been thinking “globally” for years – translating the copy of their corporate websites into language-specific sites to serve key markets – but must now understand that global doesn’t equal personal.

We all know that today’s consumers are in the driver’s seat, expecting their digital experiences to be personalized at all times. We should remember that B2B customers are also seeking personalized (and therefore regionalized) digital experiences. The previous one-size-fits-all “global” approach isn’t going to cut it in 2015. As predicted by Forbes for 2015, “…marketing is becoming more regionalized, and more localized, even more individualized, as consumers resist homogenization. Personalization is not a trend. It is a marketing tsunami, here to stay, which will transform how we think about and how we manage global brands.”

With that said, here are a few things to keep in mind as you regionalize your website in 2015:

Think about design  

If you plan to regionalize your website in the future, fonts and design layouts should be carefully considered before you even develop your primary (North American) website. Best practices call for selecting a font that supports non-Latin characters (i.e. Chinese characters) so that you don’t have to find an alternative font each time you build a new site that contains non-Latin characters. It’s also wise to think about how different character widths may affect your design. For example, Korean characters are quite wide in nature, so think about how your design layouts will support the additional space needed to ensure these characters remain legible and the line breaks are accurate.

Think about SEO 

If you have a strong SEO program for your North American website, you may assume that your keyword strategy and content organization can be carried over to your regional sites. On the contrary, with each regional site it’s important to examine what each audience is searching for. Start by conducting regional-specific keyword research, as it may unveil new keywords that your audience is using to search, and work these into your content accordingly (H1 tags, page copy, Meta tags, URLs). Then think about content organization: did your research show that this region cares more about product A, and your other regions care more about product B? If so, consider how you will elevate the content on product A, so this information is easily indexed and quickly found by users.

Think about development

The process of regionalizing a website involves many moving parts. Determining a domain name and server location. Localizing and reviewing page copy. Updating images and creating new page URLs. And that’s just to name a few! It’s a no-brainer that a detailed project plan is essential for staying organized and on-task. However, it’s important to note that certain steps will require extra up-front planning.

For example, if you want to secure a new domain name for a regional site, the application and approval process can take up to six months in some countries – as opposed to a matter of weeks in the U.S. Similarly, quality assurance testing may normally take one to two weeks for a standard North American site, whereas you may need to allow three to four weeks for your employees in other regions and across different time zones to QA test the new site.

Think about making a difference for your brand

The list could go on, but one thing is true: Regionalizing your website is no small endeavor. However, the time and effort is sure to deliver significant ROI if B2B brands and marketers honor the specific design, SEO and development standards in each of their key markets.