Producing a modern, sleek and high-performing website is a tough task in itself. You’ve done all the hard work and it’s up there in your main language – job done? Well, not always. English might be the language of the internet, but research has shown that over a half of internet users speak another native tongue. If you want to reach these potential customers, you need to speak their language.
Websites that overlook localization could be significantly limiting their market reach. Put yourself in their shoes, would you be as confident buying from a website that’s not in English? The answer is probably no. If you want to maximise your chances of reaching customers overseas, it’s time to start thinking about website localization.
Where do you start? Though it might be tempting to use a Google Translate plugin and hope that’ll be enough, you’d be wrong. The following 7 key tips will help you to get the most out of your website when reaching new customers overseas:
1. Understand your Audience
To ensure you have the best chance of success, it’s vital to understand your audience and the things that make them tick. For example, did you know that different colours have different meanings in particular cultures? Also, certain cultures may also find particular images or terms offensive and off-putting, so you need to think about the local audience. You don’t want to alienate customers straight off the bat.
Some businesses are incredibly effective at creating well-targeted websites, while others miss the mark. Don’t assume that customers in different markets will connect and engage in the same way as your home audience. For the best results you need to localize your language and website, and speak to customers in their language.
On top of this, it’s important to consider exactly which markets you want to enter into and why they might be a good fit for your product. You don’t want to sell a surfboard to a landlocked country, for example!
2. Decide What to Translate
One of the next things to think about will be scope: How much of your site do you want to translate? It’s rarely necessary to translate everything on your site. An out of date page from 2012 isn’t going to add much value, whatever the language!
On the flip side, don’t be tempted to cut corners by just translating a product page or landing page. Customers will want to know about you, your terms, your delivery and returns information, and so on. Remove barriers to buying by giving them confidence. It’s important to ensure that you are not leaving your audience to fend for themselves.
Lastly, you might want to think about videos, text within images and links to other documents. Are they important to the sale? You might want to translate those too.
3. Manage your Content
How you currently store all the content for your main website will play a vital role in how smooth the localization process will be. Is it easy to add new content? How will you get content translated? Will you export it? Will you use a translation content tool?
Once you’ve got your content translated, how will you add it to your website? Is your Content Management System (CMS) able to handle different language versions? If you don’t speak the language, how can you be sure the content is displaying correctly?
You’ll also want to think about how you want your language pages structured on your website:
There are various tools and plugins that can make this process quite simple. Some can even push content to translators via an API and have it back on your site automatically. Get it right from the start, and it will make things so much easier for the future.
Speak to your translation company. Any translation company worth their salt will have lots of experience and will be able to guide you through the process.
4. Speak the Same Language
It may sound obvious, but if you speak the language of your customers, they are more likely to trust you. The following stats are from an article in the Harvard Business Review:
These two stats alone clearly show the importance of speaking the language of your customers. If you want to increase sales overseas and reach more customers, you need to speak their language.
5. Use the Right Keywords
Using the right keywords will ensure the most visibility online. It’s important that you explore what keywords are going to be important or relevant to your local campaign. Keywords for a local area are not always going to be the same for other regions you could be targeting.
Also, think about what customers are actually searching for. For example, would you search online for ‘hook and loop fasteners’, or ‘Velcro’? The latter is actually a brand name, but it’s become synonymous with the product itself.
Google has a great keyword research tool, and it works in different languages too. You’ll need speakers of your target audience language to get the best out of it, but it can help to ensure you are targeting the right keywords. It’s a great tool for your home language, too!
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is a vital part of ensuring that your website is going to gain traction online, whatever the language. The right keywords will ensure your website is found online. Do some research and build your multilingual SEO strategy around the right keywords.
6. Maintain a Strong Brand Identity
If you’re looking to grow your business, both at home and overseas, you need to think about your brand. If you don’t, it will be difficult to gain an ongoing and recognisable reputation. It’s even possible that the local target audience is already familiar with your brand. Customers will be happier buying if it’s clear that your website lives up to the brand ideals and quality. Ultimately, your localized website design should reflect your brand image.
7. Go Professional!
It can be tempting to get a free translation tool for localizing your content. It’s cheap and it’s easy, and that can only be a good thing, right? Wrong. Bad translations not only reduce conversions, they are damaging to your brand and reputation. You have once chance to impress your customers, so don’t scare them away with bad translations!
Take a look at this example:
Do you think this customer did this intentionally? We doubt it. They cut corners and went for a free option. Does it make you think more of less of the company and their products? If they don’t care about language, are they cutting corners on quality too?
When you are trying to win customers, it’s important to keep things as clear as possible. A poor translation will only confuse matters, lead to mistrust and raise questions about your quality.
You can avoid language mishaps by using a professional translation service. If you’re just translating into one language, a freelancer translator might be just what you need. If you’re translating into multiple languages, go to a professional translation company. They will ensure text is consistent across all languages, and help to save money with cost-saving technology.
A well-translated website pays for itself. Don’t cut corners, get some advice, and use professional translators. They do this for a living!
Localizing your website can help you reach more customers and increase sales. Think about site structure, keywords, and don’t cut corners by using cheap or free translation. It might save you money initially, but you’ll have lower sales as a result.
Speak to translation professionals and work out the best way to manage your content. You could even connect your web developer and your translation company, who can choose the best strategy for you.
When it comes to website localization, do it right, do it well, and stand out from your competitors. Need our help? Get in touch.