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What is Cultural Conversion Optimisation?

Online strategists: are you gazing into your crystal ball to see where to spend marketing dollars in the years ahead? If you are then you will no doubt see a few familiar faces and a few tall dark strangers. You’ll see old friends like the ongoing explosion in mobile marketing. Engagement, metrics and ROI in social media will be another. But in the dark strangers category there a few other trends that deserve your attention: cross-border and international web marketing is one. A greater focus on understanding conversions and web testing is another.

My prediction is that 2012 will be the year when cultural conversion optimisation comes of age. For those companies who are going global, understanding the differences in groups of visitors and how they culturally respond to web design will be crucial.

SEO/SEM has now matured into a must-have for the majority of online companies, many of whom see this channel as the most cost effective and vital of all their online spend. The same will happen with content optimisation which is becoming more desirable as companies realise that their site or landing page has been built without the necessary scientific conclusions and understanding that can only be gleaned by web testing.

The need to understand cultural differences- brought to life through MVT and other forms of testing- is happening alongside the huge growth in companies taking their business online beyond their domestic shores. The global downturn taught internet businesses some lessons after unprecedented rates of growth throughout the 2000s. One important lesson is to identify new business growth areas when your core markets suddenly start to see the brakes put on huge growth by commoditisation, mass competition and a global recession.

Many international brands use a template-driven web experience for visitors in all markets. Rather than assuming a standard template which has been localised will convert the best, Cultural MVT can bring science and testing and can prove that cultural differences in conversion not only exist, but also which designs work best in each market.

Our experience shows that one size very rarely fits all. Time and again we have seen that SEO or PPC is more effective when it has been localised, whether it is identifying linguistic hybrid search terms like “Voli Low Cost” for Cheap Flights in Italy, or understanding the algorithmic nuances of Yandex in Russia for Kapilka, or understanding the rules of engagement for RenRen in China for the Cambridge Education Group. As a company OBAN Multilingual have been testing and learning about how different cultures react to content since 2005.

And so in 2012 I predict that we will see many more brands expanding their international web operations with the smart companies asking the question:

Will simply localising English templates for international markets really deliver the best results??