Posts

A Smarter Approach to Global Growth (Part 2)

Lingoport recently hosted a webinar focused on product strategies for enhancing successful global expansion. The webinar featured Talia Baruch, Founder of Yewser, which helps companies maximize international expansion, accelerating global growth to win adoption in new markets. Talia integrates the cultural and regional factors in product strategy to optimize for discoverability, customer acquisition, engagement, conversion, retention and brand loyalty in international markets.

During the webinar, The Global Product Strategy Playbook of Leading Brands, Talia shared her experiences helping to guide leading organizations ranging from Google to SurveyMonkey, LinkedIn, and VMware achieve successful global growth targets.

Complementary to the webinar, as a special bonus, here’s a behind-the-scenes interview with Talia, with a walkthrough of her experience helping Trello achieve success in the Japanese market. Enjoy!

Interview with Talia Baruch

Lingoport:

We understand that you recently worked with Trello on building their product strategy for Japan and on scaling their global growth. So, we were wondering if you could share any key recommendations or any key learnings from that engagement?

Talia Baruch:

Japan is a fascinating market with unique cultural and regional considerations necessary to factor in product strategy. You don’t need to reposition your value proposition or product experience for every single country, but in some target markets, like Japan, China, Germany, Mexico, and Brazil, it is necessary for market fit.

I’m especially fascinated with Japan as a new market for product adoption and have dedicated much of my career to exploring Japanese market nuance and Japanese consumers.

This is a market where language support alone is not sufficient. Product strategy, performance/experience, and positioning all require fine-tuning to make the product make sense in Japan to allow local growth.

In Trello’s case, they’d already translated their product into Japanese. My team’s work was to run a thorough audit on the holistic user journey in Trello’s Japanese product experience, focusing on key funnels, from discoverability in Japan (non-branded Search being the prominent attribution channel in a low-awareness new market), to new customer, acquisition, 2 by 7 engagement (take 2 key actions within 7 days of activation), conversion to paid subs, and retention (renewed subs). We then provided the detailed playbook PRD (product requirement document) on how to optimize key funnels to reach the target lift in success metrics, with tech specs ready to hand off to engineering and ux design for implementation.

In terms of discoverability and new acquisition in Japan, the key step in this case was establishing a comprehensive Japanese SEO and SEM strategy. In a new late adoption market, brand awareness and engagement are, by default, lower than in early adoption new markets. Therefore, focusing on generating organic and paid traffic, ranking and entry point from local portals is key. ccTLD domain treatment, dynamic sitemap with hreflang, canonical URLs, making Search work across the three character sets (Kanji, Hiragana, and Katakana), developing Japanese SEO keyterms to enhance non-branded search (e.g., people keying “task management tools” versus “Trello” ), partnering with local “Power Ups” in Japan (local related portals and platforms for entry into Trello’s platform, similarly to Trello’s partnership with Microsoft’s Planner in the US), etc.

View i18n Webinar Recording

Another local factor that impacts market entry strategy  in Japan is its top-down structure where a hierarchical social & business order is honored. Therefore, establishing local strategic partnerships and integrations with local power players is key to build brand trust and credibility. It is common in Japan to commission a local corporation that has already established marketshare trust to write a testimonial validating your brand.

Another regional factor is that Japan, unlike the US, is a mobile-first country, so if you just translated your English US onboarding experience, which lacks “download the app” as a first touch point action, you risk signing up new customers on web, who never show up. Therefore, launching a “download the native app” splash promo in new customer registration flow is important to secure their relevant downstream mobile engagement.

Also, establishing a mobile site versus only a responsive mobile web, is important in Japan. A mobile site allows a lighter-weight interface than mobile web, but with the necessary guided experience and added information that customers expect and can’t get on a native app.

Of course, full function performance on the mobile experience is expected, such as auto-fill, Japanese alphabetized pull-down menu, and auto-correct in UGC fields because, again, most consumers in Japan interface on mobile.

In terms of achieving a native look and feel, Trello’s Taco the dog anime is a perfect fit for Japan. We just needed to culturally customize some of the creative assets, , for example, replace an airplane image on a landing page with the image of a train station, as the train system is a central part of Japanese lifestyle.

In the Japanese market, customers expect flawless localization quality. Local content and transcreation is sometimes necessary, especially on key funnels like onboarding or to reduce friction in Checkout to Complete orders. Emails related to payments need to be subtle, implied and formal, applying the right honorific format.

Japanese phone support during local business hours is expected. Customers really want to see that there is a credible company behind the digital product that they consume before committing to paid subscription.

They actually do read all the FAQs and the “About” page in Japan, so those need to be fully localized. In addition, price plans need to be adapted. Japanese customers are willing to pay more for quality full service, so having a all-inclusive paid plan in the mix is desired.

An article came out recently about how Japanese consumers perceived Walmart as low value because it’s too cheap. It’s a country that appreciates high quality and is willing to  pay a high price for it.

These are just a few examples of regional and cultural requirements to make it in Japan.

They require horizontal, holistic cross-functional collaboration to orchestrate across the organization, working closely with both HQ and in-country teams.

Read Part 1 of Talia’s interview.

View i18n Webinar Recording

A Smarter Approach to Global Growth

On July 25th, 2018, Lingoport hosted a webinar focused on product strategies for enhancing successful global expansion. The webinar featured special guest Talia Baruch, Founder of Yewser, which helps companies maximize international expansion, accelerating global growth to win adoption in new markets. Talia integrates the cultural and regional factors in product strategy to optimize for discoverability, customer acquisition, engagement, conversion, retention and brand loyalty in international markets.

During the webinar, The Global Product Strategy Playbook of Leading Brands, Talia shared her experiences helping to guide leading organizations ranging from Google to SurveyMonkey, LinkedIn, and VMware achieve successful global growth targets.

Prior to the webinar, we had the opportunity to chat with Talia and to uncover a few of the insights she eventually shared more deeply during the webinar. If you head up product, growth, marketing, or business development at your company, this is an interview (and webinar) you do not want to miss.

Interview with Talia Baruch

Lingoport:

Talia, you have a very long and successful career in internationalization, localization, international product management and global growth strategies. We were curious how you got interested and involved in this field?

Talia Baruch:

Well, the inception comes from my multicultural family background. I’m a product of where East and West meet. My grandparents’ home in Rednage, a small village in England, was called Yewsdene (=the home of Yew, a big ever-green, cross-continental tree). I’ve named my consulting company after it: Yewser (as in Yewser Experience).

Yewsdene represented to me that cross-cultural, cross-border connection I’d absorbed from childhood. I have deep roots in Eastern & Western Europe, Uzbekistan, and the Middle East, so the Silk Road junction, where people connect across cultures and borders to open perspectives makes a lot of sense to me. Yewsdene was the place where post WWII, many of my grandparents’ extended communities  friends and family’ found a safehaven, and where I was fused with profound post war cultural awakening for tolerance values. It simulated me and it made me realize from a very young age that beyond language barriers, people from different countries/cultures have very different perspectives. Cultural and regional aspects have a very strong impact on the attitude, the mentality, the perspective, and expected behavior in the way people, as well as products, connect with one another.

When I pursued my career, I knew that I was going to do something with cultures and languages. So, localization was a natural fit (a new field when I started…some 20 years ago), and about 10 years ago I pivoted from language support to product geo-fit & global growth.

View i18n Webinar Recording

Lingoport:

So what would you say are the biggest mistakes that you see companies making, and I want to ask you this in two parts. One, companies that are looking to enter global markets for the first time, but then also companies that already have some kind of international footprint. What are the mistakes that each of those types of companies tends to make as they look to expand globally?

Talia Baruch:             

Right. Well, across the board, from startups to multinational corporations, many companies struggle with some common core misconceptions:  

  1. Misconception of one size fits all for global: E.g., US-based companies typically build a prototype, define its value proposition and achieve proof of concept & product market fit for their domestic market. A/B testing and user studies are often done for English US, and then learnings are applied for global markets. The assumption is often that reaching international expansion means having the international customers understand our US-validated product (therefore, translation). While this is baseline tablestakes, the impact component to reach international expansion is, of course, having our product (vision, plan, strategy) understand our international customers within the context of their market ecosystem.

    While most companies invest in language support and build internal localization teams, few companies invest in that second part–integrating the regional and cultural factors in their product strategy roadmap and performance to make their products make sense in their target international new markets. Translation drives some growth (sometimes we even see a 2X growth within the first year of language launch in low-English proficient markets), but this growth rate usually flattens after the first year. Product geo-fit experience and localized product experience, on the other hand, enables sustainable growth in new markets adoption for the long-haul.
  2. Organizational structure: a big challenge many companies have is maintaining efficient open communication between their HQ product teams and their in-country hubs’ functions. This is especially critical for driving international efforts, which are fundamentally horizontal and cross-functional and require constant alignment with the corporate core objectives. Traditionally, companies would have the product HQ in the domestic market (e.g., in the US) and follow a global, centralized management approach in both their technology and team structure–e.g., they’d have a global standard centralized platform infrastructure architecture, as well as HQ-centralized org structure. Today, more companies opt for having regional HQs in their priority target markets–e.g., a Singapore HQ for their Asia markets, MX or BR for their LATAM regions, etc. While the corporate vision and mission should be centralized and consistent, a more flexible structure (modular, decentralized platform infrastructure architecture, as well as org structure), enables them to respond fast enough for local in-country requirements and iterate fast enough on the product front-end to optimize experience in the local target markets.

The positioning of the international team within the org structure is also critical. To effectively build and orchestrate an international expansion strategy roadmap, the international product lead and team need to be positioned as an autonomous unit within product growth org for impact on cross-functional horizontal efforts.

 

View i18n Webinar Recording