It's not such a small world after all: Page 2

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Spreading the words

But making your Web site actively bilingual or multilingual is just part of the battle. It also has to be seen. That's where Bill Hunt, vice president-international for Multimedia Marketing Group Inc., a Bend, Ore., Internet marketing concern, makes most of his money.

Translation aids
Many companies can help you translate Web pages into English. Here's a sampling:

Alis Technologies Inc.
Montreal, Canada
514-747-2547


Bowne & Co. Inc.New York, N.Y.
212-764-5500


Rubric Ltd.
Berkhamsted, England
617-422-0010 or
818-893-5820


Worldpoint Interactive Inc.
Honolulu, Hawaii
(808)539-3939


The fact is, says Hunt, that most users outside the United States learn about Web sites differently than Americans do. Most Internet use in Asia, Europe, and Latin America carries a per-minute charge. "They don't have time to surf," he says. So techniques including search engine optimization and making sure your site will appear near the top of a Yahoo.jp search aren't the most effective way to market. Instead, says Hunt, "the number-one way people overseas find a site is via e-pubs or a mailing list" that sponsors products delivered through e-mail. "That's used by 90% of such visitors. The second-leading access method is through an Internet magazine," Hunt adds.

So the key to getting international business is through users' e-mail clients, not the Web itself. But for many of those users, the Web is the e-mail client. "About 200,000 people in India use Hotmail," notes Hunt.

Banner ads addressed to these users can be effective, says Hunt, but only if they're written in a local language. When he wrote a banner in Japanese for LA Shoppers, the clickthrough rate was 21%. Hunt got similar rates when he wrote a banner in Hebrew for Golden Ages, a food site. "Indian Hotmail users don't click on ads that are not in Hindi," he adds.

Redefining demographics

Kodak's Lund says he's taken such lessons to heart. For 1999 he's bringing local managers into Web planning, not only to help with translations but also to make sure choices on content are made with cultural sensitivity. In addition, he will also bring local people into the loop to plan the marketing of those sites.

"There's a Web group in each country," says Lund, integrated into the six to eight business units Kodak has in each country, with both marketing and technical people dedicated to the local Web.

< From these people Lund has learned more about what local content he should offer. "There are some things," he says, "like local promotions, seminars, and trade shows we just build in the local language" and don't offer in English. The local sites do, however, track e-mail feedback on English-language content, which is accessed via links, "so we have initiated some efforts to translate or localize those [English pages users want]," Lund says.

"We also took a look at a bunch of demographic data for who's online in various countries, like the number of telephones per 1,000 people, just to gauge where to focus efforts," he says. In addition, Kodak revenues in each foreign market are factored into the equation, and company officials have built a spreadsheet in order to study the data more closely. What Lund has found is, "until you get 10% of the population online you've got to be careful--you could be just niche marketing. At 10% you've got enough people from various population segments online and can do a decent job."

This will be the year when Kodak finally does electronic commerce in other countries, languages, and currencies, Lund says. Accessories for digital cameras--tables, bags, lenses, and memory--are all popular at kodak.com and will be included in its international sites. While Lund admits there are channel conflicts, "it's hard for dealers to stock [the accessories] so customers are frustrated when they can't get them. Making them available on the Web drives customer satisfaction."

And it doesn't just drive customer satisfaction in other countries. U.S. customers benefit, too. About 32 million Americans don't speak English at home, Multimedia Marketing Group's Hunt notes. Speak their language, and you'll find loyal customers. //

Dana Blankenhorn has covered computing since 1983 and now edits a-clue.com (http://www.a-clue.com), a free e-mail newsletter on electronic commerce, from his home-office in Atlanta. He can be reached via e-mail at dana.blankenhorn@att.net.


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