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Strategies to internationalize SMEs

German SMEs have a big backlog regarding the usage of online marketing and distribution channels. Consequently, they have difficulties to penetrate new markets. But companies could push and optimize their internationalization with less activities and acquire new customers worldwide. This article shows you how an internationalization for SMEs works.
The change of marketing channels and distribution channels often overwhelms medium-sized businesses. According to the “B2B Online-Monitor 2013″, SME’s have recognized the importance and relevance of B2B online marketing; however, the execution in the international context is insufficient. Main reasons are the wariness and lack of experience of B2B deciders in using online marketing activities, which are necessary for internationalization.
But with the following three quick-wins, companies can push for internationalization fast and effective, improve their strategy and win new long-term customers.

Internationalisierung Unternehmen Mittelstand

Internationalization of the website

A basic requirement of every global online marketing activity should be the internationalization of the own homepage. Experts differentiate between international and multilingual websites. SMEs have the option, based on countries like Brasil or on languages like Portugese, to make their content readable for an international audience. An internationalization based on countries makes it possible to aim the website towards certain countries. Country-Code Top-Level Domain-names (ccTLDS), which are bound to special countries such as (e.g.) the “de” for Germany or the “fr” for France, are rather helpful for this. Subdomains, which include language abbreviations at the end (e.g. “, are the easiest ways for multilingual modulations. Being able to choose from several languages allows the accumulation of a wider target group and is recommended for starters. Through the use of “hreflang”-attributes, duplicate content can be avoided. The implementation of the internationalization can be done relatively fast through the webmaster. Focus should be on creating the content and its translation.

Internationalization through international search engine marketing

The internationalization done via international search engine marketing, offers an effective way to acquire new customers globally. The great advantage in using placement advertisement on google, is the pinpoint addressing of potential buying agents. Through the prominent placement of the advert in search engines fast, high-value traffic can be generated. Another advantage is the accurate targeting of characteristics like country, area, and user.

Search engine marketing for B2B companies - Kyto white paper

The following four facts should take under consideration when internationalizing via search engine adverts:

  • Consider local search engines: Adverts should be activated on the biggest search engines in the area. This isn’t always Google. For example in China “baidu” is the market leader with 61%, in South Korea “Naver” with 77% and in Russia “Yandex” with 60,4%.
  • Translate country specific keywords right: Loanwords, search habits and linguistic details are important!
  • Appealing texts push the conversion: The text of the advert needs to be adapted for the local market to reach a high click rate. Here as well, linguistic gestures have to be considered.
  • Those who observe win: The success of the campaign should be monitored and evaluated constantly. KPIs should be defined ahead of time.

If these four criteria are considered, great success can be achieved with relatively small resources. Companies can, especially in international context, profit from a relatively small CPC (cost-per-click) in comparison to their domestic markets. So SEO should be a part of every online strategy of a B2B company. Because of complexity of the linguistic modulation it is advisable to turn to an expert.

Internationalization SMEs through portal marketing

There are more than 1.500 directories of companies and B2B portals, which B2B shoppers actively use when searching for producers and sellers. SMEs can release their company and product data on relevant directories such as “wer-liefert-was“ or “TradeIndia“. Thus, a simple but efficient internationalization takes place. Studies show that more than 70% of B2B buyers search online for producers and sellers. B2B buyers mostly land on portals when searching online for generic B2B keywords such as “CNC milling machine suppliers” due to the portals’ high rankings on search engines. Many shoppers search directly on portals because they are an important component for searching in international business. Because of this portal marketing marketing is one of the most effective ways of inbound lead generation for companies.

Three important points

  • Choose the right platforms: The choice is essential for the success of the portal marketing campaign. There are more than 1.500 different platforms, which are focused on diverse sectors and areas. The selection of platforms should represent target markets and focus of branches.
  • Premium accounts payoff: Premium accounts on platforms translate to high positions in search results and are essential to create high quality leads. Furthermore, premium accounts provide extensive information such as product catalogues, pictures, and certifications, which boost the information density.
  • Wise management of the platforms: With an increasing amount of portals used, the administrative work for the company rises. The whole administration should be outsourced to an external provider in order to focus free capacity on customer requests and raise the efficiency of portal marketing.

If these success factors of portal marketing receive attention this rather young discipline of online marketing is an ideal possibility to promote internationalization with small resources. The idea is to minimize the wastage of resources by focusing on a specific target groups through a precise portal marketing campaign as an integrated part of any international online marketing strategy. Because of the complexity of choosing the right portal, it is advisable to work with an external expert.


B2B companies can start their internationalization with three simple steps and win new global customers. Digital channels of distribution offer SMEs variegated options to develop new markets simple, fast, and competitive and generate long-term growth in sales. International SEM campaigns and portal marketing are to highlight here. Together with one’s own website as a base, the way is paved for SMEs to be successful.

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