Blog post by Alexandru Rotaru of Lingo24
Fresh from graduating from Oxford with a degree in French and Italian, Christian Arno started the online translation company Lingo24 at the tender age of 22. He grew the business from a two man operation based in his parents’ spare room to an award-winning global enterprise with a turnover of £3.65 million in just eight short years, and cites the internet as being instrumental in his success:
“I was in Aberdeen (Scotland), which is an international city, but it is a small city, and I didn’t really know how business worked. It wasn’t until I started to understand how internet marketing worked that the business really started to grow.”
Here Christian gives his hints and tips to get you started on your own road to success.
Find a gap in the market
The best way to be first in your field is to find a market place with little or no competition.
Arno says, “The core idea behind Lingo24 – to use Internet technologies to make the translation process more efficient – just seemed an obvious one at the time, and one that existing translation companies weren’t taking advantage of. ”
Go online, go global
Lingo24 was the first translation company to market itself entirely online. This meant they were able to expand without large overheads, and could offer clients prices up to 30 percent cheaper than its competitors.
Of course, the real beauty of the Internet is being able to reach potential customers all over the world at the click of a button. Lingo24 now has clients in over 60 countries, and being able to target emerging markets overseas has protected it from the worst of the current financial gloom pervading the UK.
Do your homework
Spend some time researching who and where your target market might be. Arno confesses that in the early years he spent a lot of money on “ads that I thought were magically going to bring me business without having a thought about where my target market was”.
He now advises “It’s important that you don’t throw large sums of money at things without knowing what the outcome will be…. take things slowly at first – understand your market and talk to others who have succeeded before you spend too much. ”
Localise your site
Arno is a great believer in website localization, and over the years Lingo24 has used this technique to help a myriad of other companies grow globally.
“The majority of the internet is in English, yet most of the world’s internet users’ first language isn’t English, so there’s a clear gap there”, he explains. “I researched key search terms used by local customers and incorporated them into the translated websites. Because the saturation is nowhere near what it is in the English-speaking market, I found that we rose very rapidly in foreign search engine rankings.”
As well as ensuring that you are using the most effective keywords for your target market, invest in a locally-based server and a country code top level domain name for your localized websites, and scrutinize the design features of successful websites in your target countries.
Make the most of web tools
Today’s marketeers have a veritable arsenal of widgets and applications at their disposal online, from Search Engine Optimization (SEO) to Pay Per Click advertising (PPC) and social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter.
“The internet was pivotal in the success of Lingo24 and today, direct online marketing is still our most powerful tool”, says Arno. “I discovered SEO and Google AdWords and there has been no looking back. PPC allowed me to test out online marketing techniques for very little money – I could set my monthly budget at a nominal amount, allowing me to gauge its efficacy without blowing my entire marketing budget. And as it turned out, it has brought us a lot of custom.”
Don’t take your eyes off the prize
It hasn’t all been plain sailing for Lingo24 – there was a dark period where the company slid down Google’s rankings into near-obscurity, meaning that business dried up and Arno was forced to lose a couple of members of staff.
“It was probably a case of Google changing its search engine algorithm,” says Arno. “I have found that the key to ranking highly in Google is trying not to be too clever about it. Forge close relationships with relevant industry partners, offer to contribute articles to their blogs in exchange for links and ensure your own website is kept up-to-date – there’s no substitute for fresh content and there’s no fooling Google.”
Lingo24 now has designated online marketing teams for various languages, who keep a close eye on the search engines in their relevant countries to ensure that the same thing doesn’t happen again.
And with an expected rise in turnover to over $7 million this year, they must be doing something right.
About the author
Christian Arno is founder and Managing Director of global translations company Lingo24. With clients in over sixty countries and operations on four continents, Lingo24 achieved a turnover of $6m in 2009.