Globalization allows companies to compete in markets that they would have never contemplated. For B2B companies globalization has created countless opportunities. So, it is no wonder that B2B companies are looking to conduct marketing research around these international opportunities. And if B2B marketing research was challenging, international B2B marketing research brings an entirely new level of complexity.
Accurate translation is important, but there are other equally important aspects that can make or break your international B2B marketing research. You must take cultural context, technological access, local customs, and even data and privacy laws into account.
Here are seven tips to help you successfully conduct international B2B marketing research.
- Match Your Methodology to the Culture. The methodology that you choose for the project must fit the local business culture and environment. It may surprise you to learn that many seemingly developed countries have very weak technological infrastructures. So, no online surveys in Brazil! In other countries, individuals are comfortable giving one-on-one feedback, but not in group settings. No focus groups here!
- Lost in Translation. While it might be possible – and tempting – to conduct your research in English, that can also introduce a bias in the results. Research has shown that non-native speakers tend to use middle-of-the-scale ratings when being interviewed or surveyed in English, while they are much more likely to give higher or lower ratings in their native language. And ironically, labeled scales (excellent, good, fair, poor) tend to be more accurate than numeric scales.
- Question Design Matters. In any research, unbiased and easily understood questions are key. They are even more important in B2B research, where highly technical topics may be introduced. International B2B research then ratchets the importance even higher, because the questions will be translated. Clear and unambiguous the questions leave less room for translator interpretation error.
- Write Once, Translate Twice. Anyone who has ever read anything in translation will tell you that translation is an imprecise art. It is critical that the nuance of the question be the same for all languages used. You must translate the survey, then have native speakers translate the survey back into English. It may be even better if your translators have familiarity with any technical terms you might be using in your survey. And finally, survey questionnaires must be proof-read by native speakers as well.
- Follow the rules. In the U.S., marketing research is covered by many laws and regulations, including the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (regulating online surveys with children), the Telephone Caller Protection Act (rules about calling cell phones for surveys), and many others. It’s no different in other countries. Be aware of and comply with the laws and regulations for that country.
- Context is Key. People around the globe answer survey questions differently. Some countries are known as “hard markers.” Others are known for more lenient responses. The key is to understand the relative position you hold in each country. Make comparisons between countries with the greatest caution.
- It’s Who You Know. When conducting B2B marketing research globally, local experts are essential to your success. They have the knowledge and resources to help you design the survey, effectively reach the target audience, collect the data, and interpret the resulting information. Make sure you are working with the people who know the right people.
While entering new international markets is challenging, it becomes easier when you have the right information. Marketing researchers with global project experience can bring the resources you will need to complete your research – and achieve the information you need for global success. Register today to learn more about Clear Seas Research’s international reach!