The Internet truly flattens the world... a fact that brings opportunity to U.S. marketers with an international component to their businesses or a desire to do business globally.
Even if you want to make use of email alone, global marketing becomes an inexpensive reality. But the primary place for business to be done on the Internet is, of course, the World Wide Web.
Surf the Web, and you quickly realize that you can very easily happen upon non-U.S. sites. (They are typically identified by a country abbreviation at the end of the URL, such as ".uk" for the United Kingdom.) It is no more complicated to get to a U.S. site from outside this country. All of it is quite transparent and instantaneous.
That is an extremely compelling reason why global Internet marketing -- and the e-commerce associated with it -- is predicted to escalate so dramatically in the next several years.
Marketers with global goals are now establishing mirror sites and multiple-language versions of their Web sites. Internet translation tools are available that make this easier to do. It is only a matter of time until those marketers use their Web sites to accept and fulfill orders online from customers worldwide.
Here are a few of the possibilities:
Other barriers to Internet-related marketing activities will come up. For example, Europeans are generally less likely than Americans to share personal profile information. Stringent privacy regulations covering all of Europe, effective October 2001, will make it illegal to solicit via email without the express permission of the consumer. Accordingly, you cannot assume that an Internet marketing program that works successfully in the United States will automatically succeed globally.
If you are going to make a serious effort to market in Europe or anywhere else in the world, you would do well to learn about the likes and dislikes of the business and consumer populations in each target country as well as understand local languages and regulations.
Going global with Internet marketing makes a lot of sense... as long as you use good sense when you engage in it.
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Barry Silverstein is CEO of Directech|eMerge, a direct marketing and e-marketing agency in Lexington, MA. He is the author of the books "Business-to-Business Internet Marketing," Third Edition, and "Internet Marketing for Information Technology Companies" (Maximum Press).