The Internet isn’t catering very well for the plethora of languages we speak on Earth. Did you know that, as of June 2018, 52.4% of all Internet content is in English?
Often, sub-par translation means that the pitiful amount of content that isn’t in English contains technical or grammatical errors or ambiguities, or the wrong vocabulary. There are a whole host of reasons why you want to avoid this being the case for your business’ translated website.
How do I do this, though? The answer, Mesdames et Messieurs, is localisation.
It’s more than a simple translation. Localisation is the optimisation of messages for their intended audiences; the rendering of text passages so they read totally authentically - as if a native speaker created them. Localised text takes into account the preferences of the target market, adapting your style so it feels natural to people from a specific region of the world. Cultural sensitivity is critical for achieving this - and it is most seamlessly done by a native speaker of the target language (which is why translators at Alexika only translate into their mother tongue - it’s our golden rule!).
How does localisation help my business?
1. Reach more people
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist (or one of our expert translators) to tell you that speaking a different language will make your products more easily-available to new groups of people. In terms of selling your product or services, you’ll only get so far by only speaking English. The Nationalencyklopedin estimates that native English speakers only account for around 5.5% of the world’s population.
Your product might be incredible - but if you’re not explaining it in a language that your audience can understand - or explaining it sufficiently clearly - you’ll miss out on conversions, obviously. According to a European Commission survey on browsing preferences, ‘9 in 10 Internet users ... always visited a website in their own language’ when the option existed; it makes sense that by speaking more languages, you’ll make your product more accessible, and potentially grow conversions.
2. Make them trust you
Let’s say you’re shopping for motorcycle parts that are only available from an Italian company. They’ve had a good attempt at translating their product pages, but there are errors relating to technical vocabulary. You’re certainly going to think twice about parting with hard-earned cash - will I even receive the correct items?
Product descriptions are crucial. Persuasive marketing text like this, intended to convert customers, needs to be well-crafted - any old translation isn’t likely to be good enough, and risks coming off as inauthentic and phoney.
A translation partner committed to localisation will choose a native speaker of the target language with an in-depth knowledge of the subject matter at hand for your project - ensuring you gain the trust you need to make smooth conversions overseas.
3. Gain a competitive edge
Even if someone isn’t a native English speaker, won’t they still be able to understand some English, or translate my website themselves using an online translator or built-in browser tools?
We’d always caution against this attitude - and if your product has potential to appeal overseas, the rewards of enlisting a translation partner greatly outweigh the initial costs. Even if you’re looking to target areas of the world where English proficiency is high as a second language - such as The Netherlands - ‘they all speak English anyway’ is never an excuse. This isn’t the first time we’ve said it, but customers are far more likely to buy a product if information about it is available in their mother tongue.
If you’re a native English speaker, the vast, vast majority of Internet content is tailored to you. As such, the study Can’t Read, Won’t Buy sheds some light on the opportunity brands have to speak another language. The conclusions suggest that doing things differently - such as speaking your target market’s language like a native - will allow you to gain a distinct advantage on your competition.
“This partiality [for a consumer’s mother tongue] leads many potential prospects unsure of their reading skills to avoid English-language websites, spend less time during their visits, and not buy products that lack instructions or post-sales customer support in their language. In summary, we found that more local-language content throughout the customer experience leads to a greater likelihood of purchase.”
Source: Common Sense Advisory, 'Can’t Read, Won’t Buy'
4. Boost your SEO
In addition to the plentiful cultural-linguistic reasons to localise your website, there is also a strong technical incentive to do so - to climb those Google (or, if you’re in Russia, probably Yandex) search results.
A website that has been well-localised will naturally contain content and keywords that native speakers of the target marketplaces use when performing searches - and so your website will be pulled into these search results. Bear in mind, too, that Google penalises websites that it deems to have dodgy or erroneous content - something that localisation altogether aims to avoid.
5. Localisation shows them you care
If you’re a native English speaker, you’ve got it easy. Be that brand who takes the chance to do things differently; there’s something to be said for someone who makes the effort to speak to you in your language.
By the same token, with its focus on local cultural preferences, a well-localised website showing respect for other cultures instills a sense of familiarity. This builds all-important links with overseas marketplaces, as well as avoiding causing unintended offence.
With ‘37% of online users spending more time on sites in their own language’, take the opportunity to maximise attention on your brand.
There you have it - five reasons that should be more than enough to convince you of the importance of a well-localised website!