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Target Emerging Markets for your Online Business

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After having maximized the potential of your online business, it’s easy to think how to replicate your successful concept to other niches. Before moving into niches you are not familiar with, it might be worth considering replicating your online business into new emerging markets.

Why Emerging Markets?

All online entrepreneurs that are not native English speakers have at some point faced the question about what language to use when starting their online business. Traditionally, English has been the only way of ensuring a broad audience, but this is about to change.

When looking at the amount of internet users per language, Chinese is soon to catch-up with English as the largest online audience. Also Spanish and Portuguese represent a significant part of the total number of internet users, although these languages will never be able to catch-up with English.

Targeting an emerging market with content in its native language will make you face significantly less competition than in the English speaking partner of the Internet.

Advertisement networks like Adsense and Text Link Ads make it easy for online businesses to monetize on the potential of emerging markets without having a local advertisement sales agreement.

Online Business Models to Replicate in Emerging Markets

Indeed not all online business models are easy to replicate into emerging markets. Online business models that involve shipping physical products will face significant challenges with freight and customs. On the other hand, business models that are related to content and receive revenue through advertisement are much more likely to be successful in an emerging market.

It’s also important to validate that the niche you are working with is viable in the emerging market you choose to target and that there are no significant differences that will not allow you to simply translate your existing content.

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How to Get Started

Depending on the country you are planning to target, the process of getting started might vary. If you are planning to target a market like Brazil, the process of getting started would look something like this:

  1. Register a Brazilian domain name (.com.br)
  2. Setup a new site with contextual advertisement
  3. Select your best content and get it translated to Portuguese
  4. Find a freelancer or a joint venture partner to help with the link building and communication in Portuguese

By completing these 4 steps you have broaden your potential audience base with 82.5 million internet users; you would have only reached a fraction of it by having your content in English only.

Target Country, Not Language

It’s easy to do the mistake of targeting a language and not a country. If you are American it’s naturally to consider translating your content to Spanish that currently represents 153 million internet users. The problem with Spanish is that it does not exist a single large country speaking Spanish, there are a lot of small countries.

Having multiple countries speaking the same language make both SEO activities and language variations challenging. Argentinian webpages are more likely to link to other Argentinian webpages rather than to Mexican webpages even though both pages provide content in Spanish.

Examples of Businesses

There are many examples of online businesses that have already entered emerging markets by simply translating the already existing content.

HowStuffWorks are currently operating both in Brazil and in China with their online tutorials and guides. Their models for monetizing in foreign markets are advertisement driven.

The hosting provider Hostgator are operating in the Brazilian market but without having moved a single server to Brazil. All their services are still provided from USA. What they have done is to translate their webpage and establish a small support team with native Portuguese speakers in Brazil to handle customer support.

This post was written by Egil Fujikawa Nes a Norwegian entrepreneur who is living in São Paulo. He is founding partner of the Brazilian consulting firm Connection Consulting that assist foreign technology companies in Brazil and editor of The Brazil Business.

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