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Preparing Your Website for Expansion in Brazil

By Liz Elting

Website Magazine – November 1, 2012

Brazil is now the world’s sixth largest economy, and the country’s fast economic growth encourages international business development and new construction, as well as business-to-consumer (B2C) and business-to-business (B2B) demand. The country will host both the upcoming World Cup and the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro – a rare feat– and needs to go to great lengths to establish an infrastructure to prepare for the influx of visitors. Hotels, restaurants and other hospitality businesses are working hard to establish themselves in Brazil in time for these events, and their websites need to be prepared, as well.

E-commerce brands are also fast expanding to Brazil because, as eMarketer predicts, the e-commerce industry there will grow 21.9 percent in 2012. Thirty-four percent of Internet users in Brazil, or 23.2 million people, will make online purchases in 2012. As organizations expand internationally, and specifically to Brazil, they need to tailor their marketing and brand messages to engage on a local level.

To successfully establish themselves in the Brazilian market, brands need to translate and localize their online presence for the new market with careful consideration of local habits. In order to reach the Brazilian consumer, companies must localize effectively and avoid the one-size-fits-all approach to every market they enter; sometimes the market potentially warrants a website, sometimes a mobile app and sometimes a microsite.

Below are four tips on how marketers can successfully create brand awareness in the Brazilian market.

1) Start with ISEO

When expanding a website to reach Portuguese-language speakers, companies might be tempted to start with website development first and optimize later to keep initial costs down. There is little value in developing a website that is not optimized for international search engine optimization (ISEO). Instead, use optimization best practices to guide your company’s entire content development and site-architecture strategy. 

Today’s search algorithms place a great deal of emphasis on how quickly a page loads in a particular market, how many other reputable sites exist in the market, which players link to the website, and the extent to which the content addresses what a user is seeking. It is important that you build your sites with this information in mind, avoid cluttering your code with unnecessary information that will delay page load times, build proper alt image tags and anchor text, create links with reputable in-market sites, and focus on developing content relevant to your target audience. Only when optimization and design are done in conjunction can a business clearly answer the question: “Have we created a site that will attract customers and appear prominently in search results?” 

2) Implement an ISEM Strategy

By working with skilled translation and localization experts who have Portuguese experience, your company can develop a successful international search engine marketing (ISEM) strategy. Your brand can define regionally relevant keywords by entrusting ISEM to those who understand the nuance of regional dialects, colloquial speech and cultural preferences, as well as the parameters of preferred search engines. Simply having someone who is on staff in your accounting department and a native speaker of a target language write translations is an appealing way to reduce costs. It is also a sure way to cost you success in the Brazilian market, where professional knowledge of the translation process and the language that the most frequently used search engines employ is essential.

After selecting the most effective keywords, businesses can begin campaigns in Brazil. This might include targeted pay-per-click ads, relevant landing pages, multilingual rich media, adapted banner ads, out-of-home advertising, experiential marketing with people on the ground, philanthropic community involvement, and events like launch parties and networking functions, as well as social media outreach.

3) Use Pictures to Convey Words

The images you choose for your new Portuguese site signal your company’s knowledge (or ignorance) about the Brazilian market. If not chosen with current knowledge of local preferences, illustrations have the ability to instantly show a company’s lack of cultural awareness. While images are integral in decreasing bounce rates and increasing sales, all can be wasted if the image does not resonate in target regions. Take, for example, an online shoe brand selected beautiful images of sites from leading world cities for its home page. It had no way of knowing that an image it had selected for one city featured a structure that was highly controversial and a local symbol of corruption. Fortunately, the company worked with a localization team that recognized the problem and selected an alternate, positive image.

4) Value Your Customer

The most important aspect of business should not be forgotten when developing a campaign for a new international expansion: respect the customer. Consumers are turned off by websites with careless translation or dated and stereotypical information about the country in which it was attempting to sell, and rightly so. Consumers crave quality shopping experiences and will take their business elsewhere if they don’t find such experiences.

Too frequently, consumers encounter websites that are not available in their native languages or that use expressions that are not familiar locally. Unfortunately for businesses, they either try to translate material themselves, rely on a browser-based translation application, or terminate their shopping sessions when left to their own devices.

Follow the Steps to Success

Brazil's market is booming, and U.S. exporters are increasingly looking to profit from this growth. It is time for e-commerce brands to tailor their websites to the Brazilian culture. By offering quality shopping experiences to Brazilians in their native Portuguese language, companies will avoid losing potential sales due to poor translation or localization. These proven best practices help businesses deliver successfully on consumer expectations.

About the Author: Liz Elting is the co-founder and co-CEO of TransPerfect.