Your corporate website is one of you most powerful marketing and sales tool that you have at your disposal. Many global companies design their websites to match the same format over all the different counties and languages that they operate in. But different markets have different aspects and characteristics that define the way that people think and make decisions. So, is this always the best idea?
While there are many merits to having one single website format, there may be better ways you can take advantage of your website. After all, the first thing many potential customers will look about your company is your website, meaning it will be the first impression you are able to give.
As we all know, first impressions are some of the most important, so we want to use this blog to talk about how B2B companies can compose and design their website to match the Japanese market.
The flow of the website matters
We have talked about the importance of localizing your website in Japanese before. While it is incredibly important to ensure that your Japanese website is in natural Japanese, understanding the way Japanese people think when designing the layout of your website helps you to create a website layout that will better guide your Japanese customers to contacting you.
Many foreign owned companies end up taking their global websites and localizing it into Japanese in the same layout. This is not necessarily detrimental but localizing the layout of your website can greatly increase your company’s ability to create a flow that leads your Japanese customer to makes the leap of contacting you.
The flow shown below is a good example of a website that has been designed to follow the way Japanese people think.
・Call to action (CTA)
・Trust and authority
・Flow of adoption
・Features of you product/solution
But why does this flow work well? When a Japanese customer first visits your company website, they want to know who you are. So, you first need to build up your authority with statistics regarding the challenges faced by Japanese companies. This is your chance to show you understand Japan.
Then after you have built this authority up, Japanese B2B customers want to know that the product has been proven to succeed, even better if the case study is from Japan for reasons we will get into later. Then you can explain to them the flow of adopting your solution before getting into the more specific details of your product/services.
It is important to remember that the features of your product are near the end because you do not just want to immediately approach your customers in Japan with that information. In Japanese B2B business, companies need to first establish who your company is before people will contact you. No matter how amazing the product you may have to offer, immediately jumping into the features can be a quick turnoff as the customer does not want this information unless they know you.
An easy to find company profile
Although this may seem like a rather simple thing, the company outline is very important for any B2B company operating in Japan. Any publicly traded Japanese company makes their company profile available on their website. Not only this but it is often made easily accessible from the top page of their websites.
Bigbeat's Japanese company profile. It includes our official company name, CEO, total capital, our main industry, a list of clients, and so on.
But why is this the case?
It provides a very quick and easy way to tell your customer, ‘this is our company.’ Furthermore, this is often one of the first places your Japanese customers may look to get a quick introduction to your company. For this reason, it is often put in the top bar of the website to give your customers quick and easy access.
Localizing keywords matter
The keywords that you use on your website are incredibly important for your SEO strategy and bringing your website to the top of Google and Yahoo searches. Understanding the keywords that your Japanese customers are searching for when they are looking for new B2B solutions is essential to ensuring you come out on top in Japanese search results.
Often many foreign owned B2B companies will take the keywords they use in their overseas marketing and apply them to Japan through translation. They do not often get good results from this tactic. That is because like many other market in the world, Japanese industries have their own keywords that people use when searching for new products and solutions. So, it is important to take this into account when inserting keywords into your Japanese website.
Furthermore, localizing keywords into Japanese is made even more difficult by the unique characteristics of the language. Japanese has three different writing systems: Kanji, Hiragana, and Katakana. Depending on the word, it may use only one of these three or some kind of combination and translation software is not yet at the level to handle this. You often need local marketers who understand your industry to localize the keywords correctly.
We have had many of our foreign owned clients asking us why they are not getting better SEO results only to find that they have not properly localized their embedded keywords.
Display the right type of content
The type of content also matters. While e-books and blogs can be great content for your marketing strategy, getting domestic customer case studies can be key for your B2B marketing strategy in Japan.
Your Japanese customers want to know how your product has been used in Japan by Japanese companies. They are very risk adverse and want to use proven solutions, which makes case studies of Japanese companies powerful tools to convey that your solution works here.
Global case studies are of course not detrimental, but it is important to know what should be prioritized. If you have any domestic Japanese case studies, those should be displayed first and made readily available on your website for your prospective customers.
Your corporate website is a tool that you have complete control of, including the content, visuals, and layout. Your B2B company should take advantage of this freedom to design your website to the local market and make the best possible use of it.
We often have clients who come to us with very poor access results to their website and are not sure on how to best fix the issue. A lot of times, we have found that a big cause of such result is they had not fully localized their website. For example, something as simple as changing the prices from USD to Yen can make your website much more friendly to Japanese users. Even if it was not possible for them to redesign their website to match the layout to the way Japanese people think, embedding appropriate keywords and getting the right content can make a world of difference.
If your company is interested in or considering to expand your business in Japan, or you need further information or assistance, do not hesitate to contact us here!
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