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On the Web, Some Countries Matter More than Others

e-GDP, GDP, gross domestic product, localization, return on investment, ROI, translation, website globalization

This is the first in a series of Common Sense Advisory reports that will answer these and other questions that we encounter in research and in our consulting projects. This particular report addresses the issue of which nations or languages provide the most likely return on investment – and which you can safely skip. The answer is to focus on a select number of countries and languages and stop before the law of diminishing returns catches up to you. This report names names, identifying the countries and languages you need to know.

In a nutshell, this report is about triage: How can you take a set amount of money for website globalization and maximize your return? There are many other factors that come into play – what you are selling, what it costs to localize for a market, whether your company has taken a centralized or laissez-faire approach to website globalization, what it costs to support a website or a product in a market, whether you sell to consumers or business buyers, and many others. However important these issues are, they still come after the basic question of which markets to review. This report provides some ways to think about that decision with a focus on economically active countries and populations.

In General: Some countries matter more than others. While this is a painful reality for people who live in those countries, it’s also a critical factor in business decisions to globalize a website. This report helps business leaders determine where to best expend their online resources without wasting budget or staff on the nations or languages that cannot cover the cost of translation and adapting the site logic, shipping, customer service, and other costly elements of website globalization.

This is the first in a series of reports based on a very large data sample from companies in 15 countries. All of them are tied to questions that we get all the time from companies with long tenures in website globalization as well as those new to the topic. Future reports will outline how to maximize the total available audience for a website, how companies around the globe guide visitors through their customer experience, what countries and languages these companies support on their websites, and how you can benchmark against these sites.

For Buyers: This report will benefit two important constituencies, the people who represent the shareholders and the executives who run the companies. The former group includes members of Boards of Directors, company officers, and senior executives who set the strategy and hold ultimate responsibility for maximizing long-term financial returns to corporate shareholders. They need information to inform their decisions about where and when to fund market entry or market expansion. Understanding where and how to spend their budgets will help them pick winning strategies.
For Suppliers: Two groups of suppliers should benefit from reading this report: The external agencies that design, develop, and maintain a company’s web presence and the software vendors that supply the infrastructure. Agencies should be prepared to offer advice and direction on how, when, and where their clients globalize their sites. Software vendors need to understand the requirements for multi-regional deployments of their products.

Physical Details
Authors: Donald A. DePalma, Benjamin B. Sargent, and R. Michael Powers
Date: 27 September 2007
ISBN: 978-1-933555-44-7
Pages: 22

ABBYY, Adobe Systems, Agnitum, Atrapalo, Boeing,, Bose, Expedia, Haier, HTC, iScrybe, KFC, LG, LMKR, Microsoft, Oracle, SDL, Starbucks, Weg

Table of Contents
  • Topic
    • How to Maximize Global Opportunities and Avoid Diminishing Returns
    • Who Should Read this Report?
      • The People Who Represent the Shareholders
      • The Executives Who Run the Companies
      • The Agencies that Do the Work
      • The Software Vendors that Supply the Infrastructure
  • Analysis
    • Triage for Website Globalization Projects
    • The Basics: Every Globalization Project Needs a Business Case
      • One-Language, One-Country Strategies Limit Shareholder Value
      • Strong Market Forces Drive Website Globalization
    • Meeting the Challenges of International Markets
      • Option 1: Globalize for Maximum Coverage with Minimal Decision Time
      • Option 2: Narrow Your Focus to the 10 Most-Spoken Languages
      • Option 3: Sell to the Most-Moneyed Populations
      • 2008 and Beyond: Which Countries Should You Target?
  • Implications
    • What Website Globalization Actually Costs
      • Budgeting Scenarios for Website Globalization
      • Where Machine Translation Might Help
      • Remember the Related Costs When Making Your Business Case
    • More Countries Will Matter -- But Not for a Long While
  • Figures
    • Figure 1 : Decisions about Which Countries to Support Often Lack Scientific Rigor
    • Figure 2: Six Market Forces that Drive Website Globalization
    • Figure 3: Ten Mega-Languages Account for 76 Percent of Online Access
    • Figure 4: The Steep Curve of Economically Active Languages Online
    • Figure 5: What You Pay Translation Agencies for Every 10,000 Words
    • Figure 6: Content Visibility Waterline -- How Visitors Interact with Websites
  • Tables
    • Table 1: Top 25 Countries by Gross Domestic Product in 2007
    • Table 2: Leading Economies Grow at Different Rates

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