Most of the time, our first interaction with a brand or business is through its website.
So, if you’re looking to do business and export internationally, what sort of impression do you want to make to your target audience?
The importance of having website content available in the language of your prospective customers cannot be overstated.
It sounds fairly obvious, sure. But the impact on consumer behaviour of having a multilingual website is startling. Being able to shop in your own native language bolsters confidence in, and experience of, your brand — ultimately making overseas consumers more likely to part with their cash.
Yes, of course, many will speak English. But you’ll maximise your chances of succeeding in international business by speaking their language. Here’s why.
40% of global consumers won’t buy in other languages.
Can’t Read, Won’t Buy is a research series by Common Sense Advisory underlining the immense importance of multilingual websites for international B2C and B2B — as well as the pitfalls for English-only websites!
The latest instalment of their study, published in 2020, made use of large, representative samples from 29 countries around the world — including Brazil, China, France, Germany, India, Italy, Korea, Spain and the US (Spanish-speaking).
The results spell out the business power of website translation and localisation. Customers much prefer to make purchasing decisions in their native tongue, as opposed to a foreign language like English. Some of their headline findings include…
- 40% won’t buy in another language.
- 65% prefer content in their native language.
- 73% want reviews of products in their language.
- 65% prefer content in their language — even if it’s of poor quality.
If we were to dial in some interesting statistics from a different Can’t Read, Won’t Buy survey, the picture becomes even clearer.
- 30% of the respondents never buy at English-language sites.
- Another 30% rarely buy at English-language sites.
- 56% either boycott English-language URLs altogether, or spend more time on sites in their own language.
- 75% of respondents want product information in their native language.
66% use online machine translation when buying online.
It’s understandable that consumers have anxiety about transacting in a foreign language, especially if they don’t fully understand what they’re reading. Would you purchase a product or service in Mandarin Chinese if you didn’t totally understand the language? Would you be buying with confidence, or just want to test the waters with a smaller purchase?
66% of overseas online consumers resort to using online machine translation when purchasing over the Internet, but are often unable to completely understand the content being served up. Doubts over the accuracy of these results promote consumer hesitancy.
Having the cultural awareness to make your website’s content available in multiple languages can pay dividends, as the authors of Can’t Read, Won’t Buy spell out — there’s a ‘strong ROI case for delivering localised content throughout the customer journey’.
Translating your website content for a global audience shows that you’re open to business and fosters understanding and trustworthiness — two crucial ingredients for online ecommerce success.
Did you know that, according to estimates, 60% of all the content on the Internet is in English, despite English native speakers only comprising approximately 5.4% of the world’s population? If English is your mother tongue, you’ve got it easy on the web.
So why not do things differently? By taking some simple steps to open up your online content to overseas consumers, your B2B or B2C company may stand to gain a lot, reputationally and financially.
65% prefer content in their language — and it helps if it’s accurate.
Tailoring your content to overseas audiences boosts the experience of your brand and loosens the pursestrings of online customers. 65% of consumers prefer to buy exclusively in their native language.
As Can’t Read, Won’t Buy’s findings make clear, even a shoddy translation will perform a limited role in easing overseas ecommerce. But businesses can really excel by investing in professional translation services; depending on your intended audience, a language service provider will employ their knowledge to help you rise to cultural challenges by localising your translated material in certain specialist ways.
Unsurprisingly, if you’re involved in a technical industry or sector, the importance of pinpoint translation accuracy becomes even more important. For those in the financial or automotive sector, be aware that your products are the type that customers demand in their native language the most. A 2016 study also found that, in the pharmaceutical sector, ‘the use of local language labelling can have a positive effect on consumer decision purchase’.
A well-translated website will also allow you to leverage the economic power of languages in multiple markets — two big-hitters being French and Spanish, both having incredibly high and rising GDP across many countries. Africa, where French is spoken widely, is a continent slowly undergoing an online and ecommerce proliferation. In fact, we’ve ranked languages by their GDP potential in a previous blog post.
Don’t they all speak English, anyway?
According to a European Commission survey of user language preferences across the EU, where English is generally well spoken, nine in 10 Internet users ‘always visited a website in their own language’ when the option existed. The same study also found that…
- Only 53% would accept using an English version of a website if there was no option for their own language.
- 44% feared that they are missing out on information because it is not available in their language (over 50% in countries such as Spain, Portugal and Greece).
Even foreign consumers who are fluent in English — or, more commonly, have a working knowledge of English — are more likely to make a serious purchasing decision with confidence only if they are reading in their native language. 72.4% of consumers are more likely to buy products in their native language.
English may be somewhat of a global lingua franca, but you’re missing out if you neglect to speak in your customers’ mother tongues.
Where next for your business?
At Alexika, we’ve been helping exporters to market themselves and localise their web content for many years.
As well as smooth, seamless project management, we have a golden rule for all of our translations — the translator must only work into their mother tongue. This ensures that the finished product reads as if it was created in the target language. Our expert linguists cover many sectors and specialisms, guaranteeing authentic, industry-appropriate translations.
Professional, prompt translations between all of the major languages of the world. If you’re interested in translating your web content, get in touch with our in-house team to discuss your requirements.