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Internationalising your website for export markets

A gateway to international business development

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PE Round

Pixel Executive

Helping SMEs to grow both locally and internationally through unique websites and targeted online marketing. 

StirlingAustin 1

Stirling Austin

Over 25 years’ experience of successfully building businesses in the UK, France and across Europe. Bilingual French/English, Stirling has managed, bought, sold, acquired, merged, restructured and turned around businesses in the UK, France, and Europe and Germany, started and developed four companies and two business units from scratch and completed a number of successful assignments as an Interim Manager.Plus a spell in between as a professional musician and bandleader.

globalisation and localisation

A virtual shop-window to the world

The internet has given small and medium-sized businesses the opportunity to enter the global market in a way that was never before possible. They are able to sell their goods and services and build their brand directly through their website to customers all over the world with minimal effort.

That being said, internationalising and localising your website is an essential step to take if you want to be noticed by overseas customers. 

1 %
Of internet users prefer navigation and content in their own language
1 %
Of internet users are more likely to check out a localised product or service

A multilingual website is one of the most cost-effective ways of starting to build your brand in foreign markets.

So how do you go multi-language and optimise your return on investment?

Think about your business objectives first and your website second.

Whether you are an SME or a big corporation, the principles are the same.

e.g. Broad desired outcomes 


e.g. Specific and measurable outcomes for those goals


e.g. How the goals and objectives will be achieved


e.g. Specific actions that you will take to achieve your objectives

A clear strategy that achieves your desired outcomes will justify the investment in internationalising your website and online marketing.

Things to consider when building a website in another language•

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Choice of platform

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Multilingual SEO

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Country and market specifics

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Design and formatting

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Internationalisation & Localisation


The process of building your website to support multiple languages

The technical best practice principle is the same as those for a building, e.g. the foundations need to be installed and configured correctly according to the required use and future flexibility.


Adapting your design and content to be relevant to local markets.

The actual process of translating, keeping brand consistency whilst allowing for cultural differences and sensitivities, e.g. colours, taglines, logos, personality, tone of voice, local customs, images.

N.B. For a website to be properly localised, it must be built from the ground up with internationalisation in mind.

Internationalisation - the choice of technical platform.

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Historically, multilingual websites required vast budgets, since they were custom coded by in-house developers or large agencies, with high build and modification costs attached. This is no longer the case.

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Proprietary pay-as-you-go systems, such as Wix, do have some languages capability but are not designed with localisation in mind. Plus all content and language specifics cannot be easily transferred if you leave.

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Open source systems such as WordPress have dedicated plugin extensions specifically created for streamlining translation workflows, multi-language web design and multilingual SEO.

Do I need separate domains for every market?

Marketing your business Internationally

In order to understand the marketing practices of the foreign country you are targeting for business, you need to understand your customer base and learn about any country-specific laws that may apply .


Ideas that appeal in the UK may not work elsewhere


Customer trust

How does trading cross-border affect your products 


Legal implications

Advertising and marketing can be restricted in some countries. For example Germany restricts the value of promotional offers due to anti-competition rules


Position your brand

You may already have a well-established brand – including name, trademarks, logos and more – but you should check if these translate well into a new market.

Languages v. Markets

There are international cultural clusters (e.g. Scandinavia, Northern Europe Southern Europe, Central/Eastern Europe, South America, etc, so you can invest in more than one market at a time.

Any additional language will help initiate international growth, and when combined with a digital strategy that manages content in a multilingual context, you have turned global content management into a competitive advantage.

Cultural sensitivities

Take into account the market’s culture, business practices and customer preferences, which can influence design, content selection, and translation. 

Designing for multiple languages

Translations should take into account the need to fit the format and design, some will take up more space than others. Translating from English into languages such as Spanish or French can result in 20-25% expansion, while German may expand as much as 35%.

Consider web font compatibilities with minimal spacing.

Contextual Translation

Use translators that understand how to use local selling expressions. (A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush doesn’t translate very well in French).

Transcreation is the merger of two words: translation and creation. It’s an intricate form of translating that preserves the original intent, context, emotion, and tone.

Multilingual SEO

Making sure you can be found in foreign language markets



Funding is available!

DIT Internationalisation fund

dit logo

The DIT Internationalisation Fund is open to SME businesses that have significant potential to grow international sales.
Eligible projects will have a minimum project value of £2000 and maximum £18,000 with up to 50% grant funding available.

The funding can be used by a business to support:

  • Market research
  • IP advice
  • Translation services
  • International social media/ SEO
  • Trade fairs, where no Trade Access Programme (TAP) funding is available
  • Independent market visits
  • Consultancy and other international commercial services

The company must be a small or medium-sized enterprise (SME) with up to 250 employees
• No more than 25% of the business is owned by an enterprise that is not an SME
• Annual turnover does not exceed €50 million or annual balance sheet does not exceed €43 million


Thank you. Any questions, please ask!

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