Think Global, Translate to Local

artikkelikuva1Does your company have a website in other languages than your own? If not, maybe you should consider all the benefits that translating your website to other commonly used languages would bring. Having websites in both your native language and in English is a good start, but is it enough? You never know who might visit your website or want to contact you from other countries. Becoming at least somewhat international does not hurt nowadays, in fact it is essential, even if you plan to focus mostly on local markets.

You might think having a website translated into English is enough since almost everyone speaks English. Well, you would be wrong, since only around 28% of the 3 billion internet users speak and understand English even though 55% of the content on the Internet is in English. According to Common Sense Advisory 72% of consumers spend most of their time online browsing sites that are in their own language. These same people also acknowledged that to get them to buy your products you should have your website available in their language. In addition the European Commission’s analytical report shows that 90 % of Europeans prefer to use websites in their native language and 42% of these people said that they would never buy from sites that are not available in their mother tongue.

Benefits of multilingual websites

Translated websites and online shops are much better for building trust between the product/service provider and the customer than sites with a limited language selection. Multilingual websites should therefore be included in your business strategy; Customers want to be sure of what they are buying, so using a language that they may not understand sufficiently makes them uncertain and possibly turns them away from your website.

Having your website available in multiple languages is also a cost effective way to market your company. When people from other countries visit a nearby area they will most likely check websites of local companies and choose the place that has a website available in their own language. This may lead to new customers, especially if they plan to stay longer in the area. If, for example, you run a restaurant or a cafe in the area where travelers visit often and your website is available in their language, they are more likely to check your place of business and perhaps even buy something.

Most importantly, your company will have way more visibility in search engines like Google, Yahoo and Bing. But keep in mind that these search engines are not default in countries like China, Japan and France. So, having websites available in multiple languages gives your website a higher chance of being found in other search engines as well.

Which languages to focus on?

The reason for English being the dominant language on websites is that Internet started on that language. Nowadays people everywhere around the world have access to Internet, so there are much higher markets available for other languages as well. Which languages should you consider then? 85% of the users in Common Sense Advisory and the European Commission’s analyzes speak one of these 10 languages: English, Chinese, Spanish, Arabic, Portuguese, Japanese, Russian, German, French or Malay. There are around 7000 languages in the world, but only 23 of them account for half of the world’s population. So, if you are a small or a medium sized company that plans to operate globally, you should only target around 3-5 foreign countries. For example if you are a Finnish company you should probably focus on Swedish, Russian and English languages in addition to Finnish, unless you plan to market your company on a wider scope.

The data collecting services, like Google Analytics, can be used to collect and analyze data about who and from where people visit your website. Based on this information you can focus on the specific countries from which most of the people that visit your website come from. But what if you do not know anyone who can communicate in the required languages? This is something you should consider when hiring people to make sure you have customer service and help desk available in those languages. If you do not have an online store and all your trade is physical only, then you need someone who is able to speak fluent English, in addition to the other required languages, for making sales happen.welcome-976277_960_720

No time or people to translate your websites? Here are some tips for you!

There are several ways to proceed, but also essential elements that you should take into account. You can hire a professional translator, buy services from companies that provide the necessary languages or hire employees that can speak and understand those languages. Having at least a couple multilingual employees is a big benefit with foreign customers.

Of course there is always the option of a free translation from Google, but that does not send a good impression to your target audience because in a lot of cases the translations via Google Translate contain errors or misspelled sentences. It will give an unprofessional impression to customers if they realize that your business is using the free albeit the most common translation tool available.

Human translations are always a better option since automatic software has not yet reached the point of being able to understand all nuances of languages. The vocabulary of these translation softwares is also still lacking, but there has been some improvements over the years. There are plenty of freelancers and companies that offer translation services for reasonable prices.

How to create a website with multiple languages

When choosing between website builders, pick the one that suits your needs best, and offers enough flexibility for you to easily combine different language options in one site, while maintaining the outlook and all information regardless of the website-visitors’ country of origin.

After all it is important to remember why we make websites at all. It is because we want the right people to find us, we want them to find whatever it is that they are looking for, and most importantly we want them to do what we want them to do. For example, we want them to see what we have on offer, to buy our products from online stores or to find the company’s address and contact information.

Once your company has a website and an online store, get them translated to other common languages in order to expand your potential customer base. Also, try to focus on bilingual or multilingual people when you hire new personnel. This will help you in the long run to get more customers, sales and most importantly visibility around the world. When people can understand your website they are more likely to buy and even recommend you to their friends and family. It is time to secure your foothold on the Internet and build multilingual websites.

GDPR – MARKETERS’ NIGHTMARE OR NOT

As you might have already heard, European Union has a set of new regulations coming into effect in regards to collecting contact data of private individuals – the set of regulations is known shortly as GDPR. So far companies have had a change to use private individuals’ information for, for example, marketing without having the consent of the person whose information they are exploiting. But in May 2018 that is all going to change. Collecting and using private individuals’ information how ever companies want is not going to be possible after GDPR comes into force. GDPR puts EU citizens on the driver’s seat and companies have to accept it, but what does all that actually mean from the companies’ and marketers’ point of view? What is going to happen in May 2018? We have collected the main points of this development here for you to consider.Shaking Hands Handshake Data Personal Block Chain

What is GDPR?

Firstly, GDPR, also known as General Data Protection Regulation, is a set of new European privacy regulations and it comes into force on 25th of May 2018. These regulations’ idea is to have the same directives in all of the EU countries when it comes to collecting and storing up personal information, and to give more power to EU citizens in knowing how their personal information is used.

According to GDPR, personal information includes all information that can be related to a person. That basically means photos, addresses, email addresses, computer IP addresses, bank details, cookies, location information and names. The same thing applies to the B2B sector. After May 2018 cooperating companies are seen as individuals. This is because under the GDPR, the cooperation is seen as something that is happening between people, individuals working in the companies instead of whole companies being seen as the individual player.

GDPR puts individuals in charge of how their personal information is used and gives less power to the companies collecting and using that kind of data for monetary benefit. That’s why under the GDPR individuals have certain rights which are listed below;

  1. The right to be informed
  2. The right of access
  3. The right to rectification
  4. The right to be forgotten
  5. The right to restrict processing
  6. The right to data portability
  7. The right to object
  8. Rights in relation to automated decision making and profiling.

What does it mean for your company?

First thing that everyone handling personal information databases in their company should appoint someone who is solely in charge of the GDPR compliance (Data Protection Officer).  If and when asked by data protection authorities, companies and organizations have to be able to explain what exactly they are going to do with the database that they have, to report how they are going to secure this information and what they know about the risks involved when handling personal data.  Also, companies and organizations have to know at all times exactly what kind of personal information they have, where the information is collected from and who are handling the data. In order to verify all this, companies should have a Data Protection Impact Assessment where you have everything documented so that if someone in authority asks how the GDPR has been taken into account in their company, you can show them their DPIA.

How does this affect tele- and email marketing?

Companies must be able to clarify what personal information they are going to collect, why they need that information and how they are going to use it. Companies can only collect and store data, which is seen necessary for them. For example, if a company has collected personal information for marketing purposes and in the database you can also see those individuals’ dogs names too, there has to be a clear context as to why (e.g. company is marketing toys for dogs).

Under the GDPR companies are also responsible to clarify how long they are going to store the information. Nobody can keep individuals’ personal information in their database forever. This takes us to the point that companies are not allowed to send marketing emails to the customers who have not bought any products or services from them lately, more specifically for 8-12 months. Also, companies have to have individuals’ consent for sending marketing emails, and even if they have the consent, the company still has to offer an ‘easy way out’ to individuals who do not want to receive any more marketing emails. Last but not least, companies must be able to prove how, where and when the consent was given.

Same rules apply to telemarketing. Companies are not allowed to make marketing calls to numbers whose owners have not given consent for that. Also, if the company has collected phone numbers for some other reason, than making marketing calls, they cannot call them in marketing purpose without asking for the consent first.

Not a problem, an opportunity

Even though the sanctions are substantial (the digest fine can be 20million euros or 4% of worldwide turnover), companies should not see the GDPR as a problem. Of course this all means extra work and companies need to invest time and money in it, but it is also profitable.

When the GDPR comes into force, companies have to clear their databases from information which does not have further use (customers who have not bought any services or products from the company for a while or have not given consent for approaching them). This means that their target groups are going to be smaller and companies are not using their resources for marketing to people who are not even interested in what they have to offer. This is going to make companies’ marketing more effective, because they only contact people who have used their services lately and are more likely to also be interested in them in the future. In the long run it is actually going to save money and who would not like that?

Why Estonia and why now?

 

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For the last couple of years Estonia and especially Tallinn has been an actively discussed topic because of the growing businesses and many succeeding startups like Transfer Wise, Skype and Erply. Even though Estonia is becoming an important country businesswise, it has not been this way for a long time.

Since the Soviet Union era a lot has happened in the Northernmost Baltic country. The country itself has been through a heap of changes in just the last couple of years, tailing the changes in markets around the world. Despite its short history as an independent nation Estonia has a lot of success stories already and they have shown both skill and a sense for entrepreneurship. The people of Estonia have worked hard to reach the place where they are in global markets today.  But let’s not forget that they also had a lot of help, still do, from other countries and international companies. Foreign investors have been vital for Estonia’s growth and they have succeeded very well in attracting more and more foreign investors and entrepreneurs with the digitalized services, in which Estonia is still a forerunner.

There are several reasons for starting a business in Estonia, you do not necessarily even need to be in the country yourself. Moving your business or opening a branch to Estonia gives you different advantages depending on what kind of field you are in. We will give you the main vantage points so that you can just go and do!

From Geography to Employee Rights

One of the many reasons a lot of companies have found the tiny Baltic country interesting business-wise is the location. Estonia’s location is perfect for firms who are reaching for the Nordic, Central-European and Russian markets. Because of its location by the Baltic Sea and neighbouring countries like Finland and Russia, which are both very different markets, the business environment is multicultural and influenced by many different nationalities.

The cheap workforce has been, and is, a major interest for Nordic countries to relocate some or all of their operations “over the bond” to Estonia from where it has trickled South to other parts of the Baltic. However, when a country’s economy is growing, so are the costs. In the (near?) future low-costs workforce will probably lose its purpose in pulling in firms from more expensive markets.

The reasons that were still obvious five years ago for relocating business operations to Estonia are not that relevant anymore. Location is losing its importance while digitalization makes it possible, and easier, to operate globally from any part of the world. More and more robots are used in all industries and cheap workforce is less required. But the fact still remains: Estonia is attracting more foreign business all the time while elsewhere things seem to be slowing down.

Covering the Cracks with Modern Technology

Estonia has taken giant-steps forwards business-wise and is still ahead of the curb in many aspects globally. The country’s main advantage point is that it is a small nation, but it has not yet built up a stable and solid bureaucracy system. Also the employee rights in Estonia are quite backwards when comparing to its other Eastern European equivalents. In fact, the goal seems to be to keep the public sector as small as possible. Still, Estonia has made sure to take part in the most important international coalitions in order to make itself a notable and trusted actor both on an economic and political level.

If there is something that Estonia is acquainted with on a global scale, it is IT and digitalization. The knowledge and experience in this field can be noticed in different areas of business in Estonia. The companies have adapted different technological solutions as part of their daily routines fast and have taken full advantage of the opportunities that they provide.

But it is not only businesses that are using digitalization to their benefit in Estonia. Modern technologies are also fluently used by the public sector. The Estonian government, for example, is nowadays using a great amount of modern digital technologies in their daily activities, such as the e- cabinet.

E-cabinet is a tool that the Estonian government uses to streamline their decision-making process. The database can be used by all government ministers in real time, so they do not miss any of the relevant information even if they cannot make it to the session itself. The results from the sessions can be emailed or even watched live and ministers can reveal their agenda on the platform and give comments during or even beforehand. The result of this all is a great amount of saved time and effort.

Administration has been made easy by modern technology also for Estonian citizens and companies. It is easy to contact the state authorities even if you are not an Estonian citizen or do not live in Estonia. In order to simplify things for businesses that want to access Estonian markets it is now possible to become an Estonian e-resident.

With the e-resident system an EU citizen can get different kinds of licenses to start a business in Estonia without ever even visiting the country. As an e-resident a person has a lot of possibilities that only citizens would have in other countries.

Basically what this means is that it is possible to establish a company online from anywhere in the world. The e-resident can also access banking services and online payment service providers (for example Paypal). Even if an EU citizen has never visited Estonia he or she is still a full owner of the company and there is no need for a local director, so it is possible for you to manage your business remotely. An e-resident can sign and authenticate documents online, encrypt and send documents securely without scanning or posting.

An e-resident will get access to a network of financial services, accountants, marketing specialists, payment providers, and other useful business services. As mentioned earlier the e-residents also get access to the government digital service. Getting insights in the activities of the public sector makes it easier to understand how to work and how to get the permissions you need when establishing a business.

As a foreign person wanting to do business in Estonia it is relatively easy to get access and insight to the things you need. Also the tax system is quite easy to understand and everything you need to know about it, you can access with your e-residency. And as every citizen in Estonia, the e-residents can make the tax declaration and pay their taxes online without sending paper versions of the declaration.

Taxation that encourages investments

Corporate taxation is quite easy to figure out for starting businesses. It is simple and for some companies there can be financial perks if you know what you are doing.

Comparing to other EU countries, especially the Nordic countries, the corporate tax is relatively low. But still, it is often cheaper and more profitable to do business in the Estonia for tax reasons. The Estonians however do not want to see it as a low tax system but as easy and simple system with a wide range of taxes.

Estonia has had flat rate taxes since 1994. The biggest reason for the flat rate taxation is to keep the system simple and transparent. The purpose of this was to be able to control inflation. It was also meant to save a lot of resources and money in regards to administration.

The corporate income tax also has a flat rate, which is 20 % since 2000.  For the first years the percentage was 26 but right now it is as low as 20 %. Even if the percentage is low it is not the only reason why the corporate income tax is worth considering about. The big difference is the time of the tax payment.

In Estonia the income tax is always 20 %, no matter how big the income is or what kind of income is in question. The biggest difference is still the corporate tax. In Estonia companies do not pay tax as soon as they get profit. As long as there is no distribution of that profit there is no need to pay tax. The tax needs to be paid when it is distributed as profit. As long as the company does not give out any of its profits to its owners that profit is tax free and the company can reinvest the money without losing any of it. This gives companies that are based in Estonia a big advantage. As an example a new startup does not need to pay much tax if they just want to reinvest their profit for the first years without taking out any of it. This helps businesses to grow faster and gives them a chance to use all their assets for expanding. In the long term the tax that companies pay will be bigger since they got a chance to invest and therefor grow.

The earlier reasons are enough for some but surely there are a lot more things that the Estonian business environment can offer. The bottom line is that doing business in Estonia is relatively easy and profitable for the aforementioned reasons, and because you are surrounded by people who know how to make your business modern by digitalizing it.