As a Japanese Company, are you looking to grow overseas? Having a good Web Marketing strategy is absolutely necessary to attract paying customers or clients from abroad. But many Japanese small and medium businesses fail to attract global visitors. After talking to many companies in the last year, here are the top 10 mistakes we see companies make over and over again. These mistakes cost Japanese companies millions of dollars (billions of Yen) every year. And in most cases, they don’t realize it is happening.
So here is the list of Top 10 Web Marketing Mistakes:
Many Japanese companies take the approach that assume that visitors to their site already know who they are. So they focus on making existing customers happy. This is a dangerous trap to fall into. If you cannot attract new customers to your site, how can you expect to grow your business?
As a result, Japanese companies stuff their home pages with info the 1st time user does not care about. Things like:
These mundane things distract the user from the real important thing. Tell them who your product is for, and what problem you can solve. As a result, many companies miss out on the first contact, that can lead to future business later.
Instead focus on things like:
If you are a 1 product company, focus on the exact problem your customer has. If you a bigger company, focus on routing the user to the right category, so you can talk about their specific problem, and present your solution.
If a user comes and visits your website, you want to do everything you can do get their email address. Once you have their email, there are all kinds of things you can do to future them, provide a free download or email course, invite them to a webinar or seminar, post updates about your company and the like. All this is not possible unless you offer them something to get their email. Yet, most Japanese companies at kind of shy in this area, miss out on all these opportunities by not capturing the user’s email address. So don’t be shy about asking the user for their email address in return for something help. Things like a downloadable report are a great way to build and good email list.
Sliders (AKA “Slideshows”, or when the main screen slides from image to image every couple of seconds), are a popular technique used by Japanese companies to showcase their products or services. It can solve a lot of internal issues like the competition between internal teams for “screen real estate” at the top of the homepage. And everyone like to showcase their range of products to the 1st time visitor.
Don’t do it.
Please consider these issues with Sliders.
Marketing Automation (MA) is a fantastic tool for nursing your customers along the road to purchasing your products. It is also an excellent opportunity to segment your customers, make the right offer to the right at the right time, and an opportunity to up sell existing customers. All these things are fantastic opportunities for Japanese businesses, but most Japanese SMBs don’t do it. Opportunity missed.
For those Japanese companies that do use MA. Many of them buy expensive packages from major makers. These packages cost 200,000 Yen per year or more. This is unfortunate. Right now you can get similar functionality from services like Active Campaign ($50/month), Drip (free), Mautic (Open source). If you are not using overly complex MA techniques, chances are you are wasting your money. Save yourself some money, and get the campaigns started right now. You can always upgrade later.
A/B is an effective technique for trying different messages, different offers, different background images and more. You should always be A/B testing to see what message resonates with your customers. Companies like Google and Amazon have succeeded online via AB testing. These days it is really easy to do, the days of depending on a developer for a simple change are over. There are easy to use Optimization tools like Otimizely, Virtual Website Optimizer, or even simple plugins for WordPress. It’s easy to implement. However, few Japanese SMBs use this technique to improve sales or attract leads.
If you are looking for international customers, Linked In is a fantastic way find them. First it’s pretty much used by almost all (90%???) white-collar employees in the US and Europe. As a result, you can run clear targeted campaigns. Do you want to reach C-Level executives (CEO, CTO, COO, etc) in the Automobile industry for companies with more than 5000 people? Easy to do with a few clicks. Japanese companies could easily be targeting international customers today via LinkedIn, but they are not. Probably because LinkedIn is not popular in Japan… yet.
Google Analytics (GA) is a fantastic free tool for tracking your customers and their path to your website goal. Most Japanese SMBs use GA. However, when I look at many GA accounts, I see 2 major problems. 1) They don’t setup Goals in GA. So they can’t track users on their customer journey. 2) They don’t use “utm parameters” for external links and campaign to track their results. Not doing either technique, Japanese companies are missing out on opportunities to track their customers.
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Assuming it is set up correctly, GA can be great to determine where the bottlenecks in the customer journey. However, GA cannot answer the question “why”. Why did users bounce on a particular page? It’s easy to speculate why. But why not find out why in the words of your own customers. Inline surveys are a great underused technique to learn why, and also learn the verbiage used by your users. A simple 1 line question like “what is stopping you from purchasing today?” can yield high response rates (20%), and really interesting insight. Tools like Hotjar, Qualaroo, or Survey Monkey are really good for this.
10 Years ago, it took a lot of technical effort using an advanced CMS like Drupal, Joomla or CQ5 to create a professional looking website. Making changes to these websites are painful, you need to request changes to the engineering team for each change. These days, most US and European companies use WordPress to quickly create beautiful looking websites. Just pick a good quality theme and content builder and get started. In addition, WordPress offers thousands of plugins that add the right functionality you need. WordPress is not just for blogs anymore. Unfortunately, many Japanese SMBs are afraid to re-create their website in WordPress and are clicking to their old architectures. If you need to do complex stuff, go ahead and hire a Drupal developer and write a good specification. But for about 90% of the corporate websites out their, WordPress is enough.
So there you have it, the top 10 mistakes. Which mistakes is your company making? Please leave a comment below.
Jeff Crawford is a Digital Marketing expert, technologist and Manager. He has worked for technology companies in Silicon Valley such as Apple, WebTV and Microsoft. He has lived in Tokyo Japan since 2004, working for companies such as Microsoft KK and Adobe Systems Japan. Jeff is founder of Zo Digital Japan, an SEO and Digital Marketing agency based in Tokyo. Jeff started the Tokyo Digital Marketers Meetup in 2016, which now has over 2000 members. He has also presented about Digital Marketing at such events as Ad-Tech Tokyo, WordCamp Tokyo, Japan Market Expansion Competition (JMEC), and the Japan Association of Translators (JAT).