Confession: I’m an Aussie-o-phile. Not a big Kylie fan (I mean, she’s OK, couldn’t get her out of my head when the Mountain won in last year’s Game of Thrones) and don’t really understand what that dude in the white hat is up to in your version of “football.” And sure, I could see the parenting benefits of marsupial-like fanny packs for my next of kin.
But what I’m really obsessed with is Australian small business. I’ve spent the last three or so years working remotely with tons of clients in Australia and am just beyond impressed with how they work Down Under.
From my completely unqualified first-hand experience dealing with Aussie customers and business partners, I’d categorize Australia as kind of like Europe and the U.S. took its best bits and gave birth to an innovation-driven nation.
Communication style is very open like the Southern European or general start-up stereotypes, while still being quite stereotypically Northern European and East Coast U.S., focused on being deadline driven, goal and results-oriented.
But enough about their personalities, let’s talk about their buying habits and why you’d be crazy to ignore them.
Distance makes the tech heart grow fonder
With every Software as a Service (SaaS) company I’ve worked with, while, compared compared with the U.S., adoption rates in Australia were relatively low, the conversion rate from trial to buying was around 50 percent in Australia and New Zealand, while, at best, 15 percent overall average.(The Netherlands also seemed to be really high, with Dutch often the second highest paying foreign language, but that’s for another story.)
It was also the same when I worked for a online directories, where Google AdWords and Facebook Retargeting campaigns all were dramatically more profitable when targeting Australia than any other major market.
I think it logically goes with the idea of a sparsely populated country needing to target customers outside its borders. The cheapest way to communicate and do business is online. This makes Aussies early business software adopters based on need and timezone.
They may not be more technologically adept than any other population but the numbers show they are certainly more technologically accepting. A software company that doesn’t invest in at least offering tech support to these timezones is surely missing a big sale.
If you put it online, Australians will buy it
It may seem ridiculous to target this avid e-commerce audience because of immense shipping costs, but they may be indeed a safer bet than other English-speaking markets like the U.S., the U.K. and especially Canada.
Not only does distance mean you have to go further to spread your message and brand, it means you are more likely to go further to make a purchase too. Australians were some of the first accepting of shopping online.
According to eMarketer, Australia, along with Japan, rivals markets like the U.S., U.K. and Western Europe in buyer penetration and average order values. Instead of trying to penetrate huge markets like India and China, ecommerce businesses need to recognize that Australia may be your customer lifetime value oasis.
And companies are finally starting to realize this, like Minnesota-based Dollar Hobbyz e-commerce website, who are pivoting their focus toward halfway around the world. “Australia is our third largest country that we ship to. The ecommerce conversion rate for the US is 2.29 percent, but for Australia it is 2.65 percent – a clear reason for us to increase our efforts in Australia.”
Targeting Australia as your first country outside your own may be the safest expansion bet. Plus, if you are looking for a base on the other side of the world, the country’s laws are very small business friendly, plus it’s a country with great relations with the fastest-growing Asian economies.
What companies have won with Australia?
With the companies I’ve worked with and for, it always seems like they target U.S., Canada and U.K. first, only to discover “ah ha!” a year into a sales campaign that Australia bring incredible capital per capita. But what about you? What e-commerce or software companies are targeting Australia? Tell us below!
Jennifer Riggins is the eBranding Ninja. She works to help small businesses brand, market and sell themselves so that the right customers find them. Right now, she’s writing and SEOing a lot about APIs, SaaS, and what makes people happy at work