Today’s always-on global world could make your business location seem to be an irrelevancy. But the opposite is true. Local marketing is now the fastest-growing part of online marketing specialisms. And it matters. Let me explain.
So here are 3 examples for you to use when considering international website domains.
Feel local but act global
A client asked “We operate in Australia and New Zealand and not sure whether our NZ target market (women 25+) will find our Australian connection appealing or a turn off, given how very passionate and patriotic us Kiwis are! I’m getting mixed messages when I ask around.
We don’t want to hide our Australian connection, as it’s very important and where the business was born, with a fascinating story behind it, just not sure whether to include “Australia” and “New Zealand” optional buttons on the landing page to split off there, or if it should perhaps only appear as an option when you need to click on “events” or “locations” etc. that have information relevant only for each country?”
What should she do?
My advice is to use a single web domain as the master site for both countries and then to have separate pages for the two locations. Here’s why.
Aussies versus Kiwis – Broadly they are correct, New Zealanders want to think they’re seeing local information (and importantly local currency and phone numbers) and of course small differences in language and rugby club orientation may also come through in brand communications over time. Do Australians eat afghan biscuits? Do Kiwis eat chiko rolls?
Your Website Strategy
Ultimately the solution you choose MUST be driven by the strategy for each country. Is the website a place where people find out about you, get news on specials and what’s new, will they email you, will they phone you? If yes, then the website must facilitate separate information for each site.
Set the strategy for the website first, then worry about the technical implementation.
Take a look at this case study of some work we did for a client who needed his visitors to quickly split up into pages best aligned with their needs.
A strategic solution
The home page says what the business brand is all about – the owners, your values and passions.
Then you have a “What’s On NZ” and a separate “What’s on AU” button that take visitors to what is effectively a home page for that location……
I would treat the NZ page effectively as your local domain and give it a really simple URL and so all links to the New Zealand business go there first.
An alternative to this location split is to have parallel websites which have slightly different domains e.g. nz.yourwebsite.com and au.yourwebsite.com You often see this device used by international law firms and accountants. This can be set up by your web hosts.
In practice this means few visitors go to the home page…. but that doesn’t really matter as long as local audiences are being served.
A poorly executed country strategy
By contrast, we got approached by a Perth business asking to do some content marketing with us.
They sounded like a good prospect and we fixed a phone call. I rang, answerphone with an English man’s voice…. so I looked him up on LinkedIn and it turns out the business name is BusinessName (Thailand) Co. Which rang a few alarm bells.
And his stated location was Manchester, UK. Clearly a disconnect.
When we spoke he said although their phones were VOIP and used Australian numbers; he was actually based in Thailand and he couldn’t make outbound calls to international numbers like mine in New Zealand. As any Aussie or Kiwi business will tell you, it’s extremely odd not to be able to phone the other country while doing business.
Now let’s look at a third scenario
Nimbus Portal Solutions are a client and they trade in five jurisdictions – Australia, United Kingdom, New Zealand, USA and South Africa plus “Global” to pick up the rest of the world.
Their chosen solution to the website location question is to locally identify the IP address of the visitor and to quietly re-set the website version to the domain best suited. So my default goes to NZ. You can check this top right in their website where a country name displays.
The main goal for Nimbus is to ensure all the currencies are local and bank account / trading entities switch to match. Which is important for their business as jurisdiction for secure document storage matters – borders and locations of server hosting are aligned to the local country to stay within data protection laws.
In summary – set the website goal first and the supporting strategy will then drive the solution which works best for your situation.
This article first appeared in Marketing Online Magazine