This week I had the opportunity to speak at a special event put on by the US Commercial Service called “Leveraging Your Website To Increase International Sales.” While this topic is not new and has been covered by single sessions at other events it is the first of its type put on by the US Government specifically to help American businesses leverage the Internet to go abroad. Speaking at this event was special for me since it was fifteen years ago this month that I aggressively defended my business school thesis entitled “Using the Internet to Reach Overseas Markets” to professors who thought the Internet was a fad and had little real business value. Fortunately I had a online business that had already generated over a million dollars in sales to use as the proof point and business case for the thesis.
My session was focused on the use of search marketing to reach new markets and customers. As I explained, the first step is to research which markets you should enter. Obviously I suggested reviewing log files, prior sales, language capabilities and product applicability. For this post I will focus on one of the tools I recommended they use that not many people are aware of. The Google Export tool was launched last year without any fanfare and is still in beta and surprisingly relatively unknown in the export community. This tool was designed to give businesses a quick way to identify which overseas markets had the greatest search volume for products like theirs and a quick view of the average cost per click.
The export tool is made possible by combining the functionality of three Google tools into one gadget:
Google Translate. Once you have entered your keyword phrase Google takes that phrase and translates it into the various local languages of the region you selected.
Google Keyword Suggestion tool. Once Google has the local variations of your keywords it will use the keyword suggestion tool to find variations of the phrases in the local language to widen the opportunity.
Google Traffic Estimator. The last step is to take the keyword variations identified by the previous tools and produce a list of keywords and aggregate the volume of searches and their associated average cost per click for each market.
Using the gadget is pretty straightforward:
- Select your home country (not the country you wish to target)
- Select the primary language of your country
- Enter up to 3 keyword phrases in the “product keywords” box
- Select your export region; currently you can’t select a country but a region. If you are looking for a specific country you select the region and get the data or use the more specific Google Keyword Suggestion tool.
The output of these functions is in table format showing search volume and CPC for each of the markets in this region. Also displayed is an “opportunity score” which is a function of the search volume and the average CPC, helping you prioritize your market research.
Clicking on any of the countries in the list provides market insight and market overview data for each of the countries on the list. This data will expand over time to help give a deeper understanding of the various elements one must consider to go global.
The Google Export tool is far from a complete “go to market tool” but it is a great way to start the process of local market identification without having to involve translators or in-country resources. Once you have identified some target markets using this tool, move to the next step of identifying the feasibility of targeting that marketing and the logistics.
You should also take the time to review the wealth of information provided by the free information and help provided by the US Commercial Service at its Export.gov website.
Note: While the gadget has been available in beta for a year, the FAQ and instructions are still slanted towards the UK where it was initially launched and has expanded features that should be available in the US in the coming months.
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