The global nature of doing business has been a reality for Capterra’s entire 18-year history. We have worked with software clients from around the world pretty much since the beginning—and until recently we did it all from our office in Virginia. That’s part of the beauty of an online world. Between email, chat, Skype, etc., there are lots of ways to serve customers that are 6, 9, or even 12 time zones away.
A couple years ago, I wrote a related article aimed at helping software companies prioritize which countries to target first. The ideas expressed there still apply today but I have recently come across some data that has changed my perspective a little bit. In fact, the data that I uncovered kind of blew me away.
Capterra attracts users from all over the world—despite the fact that we are an English-only website. In fact, there isn’t a country that does not use us. Here is a breakdown of our top 16 countries along with recent conversion rates that our software vendors have achieved in aggregate.
Those 16 countries account for roughly 85% of our traffic. Remember, Capterra’s traffic is coming to us because they are trying to find and compare business software—so they’re a pretty targeted group. What has been surprising is not that we get users from every single country (we learned that a long time ago) but that the quality of the traffic—as measured by the likelihood that the traffic converts to sales leads for software companies—is actually fairly consistent across the globe.
Yes, you heard that right. Traffic from developing countries is on par with traffic from the U.S. and Canada. And the U.K. and Ireland. And Australia and New Zealand. So yes, Kenya traffic looks good. So does Mexico. So does India. They are all relatively on par with the U.S.—at least in terms of how well they convert into sales leads.
So now you may be asking why it wouldn’t be. Am I merely biased against these other countries? (I sure hope that I’m not!) My assumption was that time zone differences, language barriers, preference for local vendors, etc. would all combine to drive down the traffic quality for our software vendors (as measured by their conversion rates), many of which are headquartered in the U.S.
But why? My hypothesis is the fact that we are English-only has become the equalizer. It means that the folks who use Capterra are a very self-selecting group, and regardless of what country they are based in, they know they need software to run their business just like everyone else.
So what does this all mean for our software vendors? Honestly, I think it means that you should seriously consider being more aggressive in targeting customers all over the world. You don’t need to wait to open an office in Dublin or Sydney or Tel Aviv. You can still do that once you have a bunch of clients there, but until then use the communication tools that we all have access to in order to begin serving those markets.
How exciting is this? You built a great product that is helping lots of businesses in one part of the world. Why wait to go global? In fact, I researched many of our savviest clients and they are already targeting every single country. It is one of the best-kept secrets (until now!) in the B2B software world. You may target a very specific industry or company size, which is great, but there is little reason for a software company in the 21st century to restrict yourself to just the U.S., Canada, etc.
A low-risk way to get your feet wet is to try not opening the floodgates all at once. Our data spans many software companies. It is very reasonable to assume that results will vary based on your offering, messaging, and sophistication. So be methodical, expand your coverage over a period of weeks/months, and constantly collect feedback from your internal sales and client success teams to understand any new challenges that arise in dealing with international markets.
But be bold! The world needs your software.