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The Internet's Twilight Zone, Are You Lost On The World Wide Web?

01/16/2010

In America, there’s an old black and white TV show called The Twilight Zone.

Each episode was a sketch of what happens to normal people in between the “time and universe dimensions” – The Twilight Zone.

They’re classics now. Some episodes were full of suspense, others had a little horror, but all of them gave you goose bumps because they showed you something uncomfortable that you never imagined.

If you market online you’re probably losing business to The Twilight Zone. And you should be very scared and uncomfortable.

Marketing online to European customers is challenging enough because of the language barrier. Fortunately, most Western European countries use the Roman alphabet (A, B ,C) and that makes things a lot easier than you think.

Doing a little digging around and research for a recent copywriting assignment, I found some data (Internet World Stats, Worldwide Broadband statistics report, CIA World Fact Book, OECD Broadband Statistics, Nielsen Net Ratings, International Telecommunications Union) that’s full of suspense and horror.

The Romans Didn’t Take Over All The World Afterall

Did you know that the top 10 internet user-countries include China, Japan, and Korea? Plus, the top 20 also include Russia, Taiwan, Turkey, and India? These countries don’t use the Roman alphabet.

35% of top 20 internet using countries don’t read or write the ABCs. And if you’re in business online, these countries have big money to spend (especially the individuals and companies that use their internet!)

The above data describes estimated users per country. When it comes to languages “written” on the internet (websites, blogs, email, chat rooms, cell phones, even website addresses) a whopping 40% of the of the top 10 written languages on the internet don’t have the decency to write in the Roman alphabet (Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and Arabic).

This is a big deal!

The Twilight Zone is slowly eating at your comfortable and normal World Wide Web…

Most reports agree that China has surpassed the US in internet users. And the world’s most popular and visited blog is blog.sina.com.cn/xujinglei (it’s in Chinese). Perez Hilton gots nothin’ on this Chinese celebrity.

Forget Hello, Hola, Comment Allez-Vous, Guten Tag…

If you can’t say it in Chinese you’re invisible; you’re a nobody.

Type:

  • China – into Google you’ll get one set of websites.
  • Type in – 中国 – and you’ll get a different set of websites (cut a paste off this site).

Now try these:

  • dog

Tell me what you see?

Yup! A parallel universe, an alternate universe, running on the Internet World – right now.

If you market online you must respect this.

You want to develop a plan on making your mark in these markets – from the comfort of your own home. At a minimum, you’ll need to hire or contract people who can communicate in that language and be your liaison. And remember when it comes to the internet, it’s not about speaking. It’s about writing.

At the very least buy the internationalized domain of your website.

Oh, and if you’re not international yet start ramping up and positioning yourself. Four out of the “Super Seven” Sovereign Wealth Funds don’t even bother singing the ABCs.

There’s a whole other world of opportunity. If you disrespect the “Twilight Zone” you could easily be losing… hmmm… 99% of a growing and lucrative international market?

Tell me what you do to grab your share of the big open internet market?

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