In yesterday’s post, I described how the initial resistance of Google’s Street View in Germany could, at least in part, be attributed to the country’s more private culture. Looking at its acceptance, the raising of concerns by Google Maps’ audience had a considerable positive impact. Engagement to some degree did occur, according to the Time Magazine/Worldcrunch article, or at least Germans opposing the service had a vehicle to show their opposition made possible by the head of Hamburg’s Data Protection Authority (DPA). In the article, the head of this authority stated that giving people the opportunity to disapprove “diffused the situation and helped Street View gain acceptance.” Thus, creating a forum which allows people to voice concerns is sometimes all that is needed.

Engagement for Improved Strategy
As a result, a secondary lesson here for Google and other companies, tech or otherwise, is to engage with the target audience. This practice is seemingly obvious but can get lost in a company’s planning if they take a product-centric approach in the design phase or even build-up to the launch without considering the local socio-political climate and culture. By engaging with the target audience, companies can learn customer concerns as well as the aspects of the product they are most excited about. This is usually done in a research fashion utilizing surveys, interviews, and focus groups to gather both qualitative and quantitative data. This information is invaluable and can be immediately used by the company to:

a) improve design and features
b) know where to offer greater explanation or product detail
c) diffuse issues or steer clear of potential road blocks
d) understand what aspects to focus on in marketing for maximum impact
e) learn if a product is even viable in that particular setting

Such a process is similarly important for an SEO company that delivers multi-faceted services to a segment of its target audience: its clients. By first exploring clients’ understanding of their own needs, strengths, weaknesses, and goals, among other considerations, the SEO company engages their client to learn more. This dialogue is essential to mutual understanding and being able to deliver exactly what clients need.

This engagement is even more important when SEO companies are delivering services like multilingual SEO in international markets. In such circumstances, it is valuable to understand the context and work out potential issues. The importance of engagement and its impact on business planning, both for SEO services and elsewhere, simply cannot be understated.

Low-cost high-speed internet is a recent development in France as communications company Iliad popularized the service through their cost-effective packages making inexpensive broadband a reality for many. Iliad has their eyes set on doing the same thing again, only now for the mobile industry. The new service, called Free, centers on a €19.99 plan that includes unlimited domestic and international calling, text messages, and data.

Rates overall will be far lessIliad Free joins French mobile market than competitors – over 50% less according to Free, which in time will undoubtedly force others to reduce their prices. The three main mobile operators in France are Orange, part of Télécom, SFR, which is owned by Vivendai, and Bouygues, and now Iliad’s Free looks to be the fourth.

Far-Reaching Impacts
With the addition of Free to the market, there will be a greater availability of mobile data, as cheaper rates will put mobile internet browsing in the hands of many more people. 40% of mobile users in France own a smartphone and 6 million people already go online with their mobile device every day in France (Médiamétrie).

With cheaper rates, not only would the number of smartphone users likely increase but the amount of browsing people do on the smartphones will likely rise as well.  By extension, more sum web traffic will be experienced throughout the country positioning an increased need for proper SEO and internet marketing for companies that want to maximize their online properties in this growing mobile market.

This potential is, in short, huge. With more consumers possessing smartphones, there are more opportunities for search engine optimization and social media integration into marketing campaigns. This is only compounded by the mobile commerce potential. More than 25% of mobile device users in the country have bought something from their mobile device (InMobi), and with more usage and traffic, French consumers are bound to expand this mobile shopping. As a result, companies in the French market want to optimize their sites and related content to direct this consumer traffic. French internet marketers, companies operating in France, and those international SEO firms that offer multilingual SEO, take notice – there is great mobile web potential on the horizon.