As Managing Director of a translation services company, I have dedicated most of my career to languages and to helping other people break the communications barrier. The industry is changing fast. As globalization becomes the order of the day, companies that were once selling to domestic customers, or mass marketing their products in English to foreign language speakers are having to change their tunes.
According to the Common Sense Advisory, almost 87 percent of consumers who can’t read English won’t buy from an English language website. So, if you’re looking to capture more customers around the world, you’d better start speaking their language.
What is Website Localization?
Thanks to the internet, the average business has access to a global marketplace like never before. But with widespread competition, search engine optimization and language barriers, simply having a website doesn’t guarantee a way in.
You already know that your non-English speaking customers will likely pass on your products if they can’t read your message. But they’ll also give what you’re selling a miss if they don’t feel like it’s designed for them.
Website localization goes beyond mere message translation to take into account elements of design, user experience, culture and local preferences. You could easily translate your core message into Hindi, for example, but if you’re still selling beef, your local users won’t buy.
Instead of serving up your foreign language speaking customers a second hand experience that feels like a translated version of the original, website localization is about crafting an experience with them in mind.
Website localization takes into account color palettes, images, icons, date and time format, and local legislation, among other factors. It’s about providing an authentic and original experience that has your overseas customers converting.
Why Should You Care?
If you’re interested in gaining more market share, expanding your operations, growing your sales and finding new growth areas you should care about website localization.
Now that global tastes are merging and we’re more comfortable than ever with overseas cultures, if you have a hit product on your hands at home, you have every chance of selling it in homes in Barcelona, Bogota and Bangkok. And you don’t need to be a large multinational to do it thanks to financial technology and the growth of ecommerce.
But if your foreign customers have a preference for Baidu or Yandax and you’re only optimizing your website for Google, you’re going to miss out. If your Middle Eastern clients would be potentially interested in your product but you’re promoting it with the wrong types of images or using offensive icons, you’re not going to get very far.
So, take some time to study your core secondary markets and see where demand is highest. Start localizing your site for the first market and add more languages and regions on as you go.
Remember that having a website in French may not be enough to lure all French speaking customers. After all, localization takes geography into account as well. Sending out the same message to people living in North Africa or the Caribbean as those in Paris, will not go down very well.
As long as you put in the research, testing and time, and make your customers feel as if you’re speaking their language on every level, website localization will take your business to the next level this year.