As a central part of everyday life, the internet has long been recognized as the most powerful tool for enabling businesses to connect with their audience. Whilst most successful entrepreneurs focus on innovative web design as standard, many neglect to fully utilize the internet and the global marketing opportunities it presents.
With the number of English-speaking internet users far outweighed by other languages, it has never been more crucial for businesses to move away from a one-size-fits-all approach and to invest instead in a fully localized, multilingual website.
Although largely underestimated and frequently overlooked, the benefits of a multilingual website are unquestionable. Whilst internet use is seeing considerable growth in countries such as France, Hong Kong, Italy and Japan, the English-speaking countries are flat lining, and studies show that language is the key when it comes to tapping into these flourishing markets.
In 2011, the European Commission found that 42% of internet users never purchased products or services in other languages, and when given the choice, 9 out of 10 would visit a website in their own language.
A Common Sense Advisory survey only served to reinforce this, with 72% of consumers more likely to buy a product with information in their own language. Interestingly, 56% of those surveyed also ranked the ability to obtain information in their own language as more important than price.
A professionally translated and localized website is not only about creating a great user experience in every country; it is also crucial for ensuring your website reaches these users in the first place. It is easy to assume that the three major English-language search engines (Google, Yahoo, and Bing) are universally relevant, but in many countries, including China and Japan, they do not hold default search engine status. Only by providing multilingual versions of your site can you ensure that your business shows up in global search results.
In addition to increasing traffic, making the effort to communicate with users in their native language adds to your credibility, cultivating an international image and demonstrating that yours is a culturally aware, customer-centric enterprise.
Website translation and localization should not be viewed simply as a goodwill gesture towards your customers; rather, it is a powerful marketing tool that ensures a competitive edge and makes your business viable in global markets. As language increasingly becomes a deciding factor in the purchasing process, it is not only down to online giants to cater to all cultures.
Smaller businesses can greatly increase their chances of success and sustainability if they adapt to all markets. Take, for example, Chrono24, an online marketplace for luxury watches which has established itself as a key global player by incorporating over 40 countries and their respective languages.
To this end, it is crucial to ensure that the content of your website is not only translated professionally and accurately, but also localized in order to ensure that it reads well – and naturally – in all chosen languages. This article offers some useful advice on selecting the right translation service for your business.