At first glance, translating your website into another language can seem like a lot of work – for no real gain. After all, with Google translate offering quick and easy rough translation of most pages on the web, why bother to invest your money here?
Smart marketeers and business owners, though, know the value of multilingual websites:
With English gradually falling from its pedestal as the most popular language of online websites, companies which restrict themselves to a purely English-speaking audience are increasingly starting to limit themselves in terms of the markets they can reach.
On top of this there are many reasons why having a multilingual website is a simple and highly cost-effective way to increase sales and boost your business:
Give yourself a bigger reach
This is the most obvious answer to the question “why translate your website into other languages?”
Alongside the fact that English will soon cease to dominate the world wide web, it’s worth considering that while internet usage in places like the United States, the United Kingdom, and Germany has pretty much reached its peak in terms of market penetration, countries such as Italy, France, China, and Japan have populations with segments which have still to fully embrace using the internet.
This means that not only will you be reaching new audiences in these markets by having a multilingual website which includes these languages, you’ll also be ready to exploit your existing access to those markets when they inevitably expand.
That’s a whole new stream of customers which looks only set to get wider in the future.
It doesn’t cost the Earth
Cost-effectiveness is the other half of this equation. Compared to such a huge potential increase in sales (some estimates place the figure as high as a 100% increase in sales when popular languages like German, French, Spanish, or Italian are added to a website – and that’s not in total, that’s per language), the cost of multilingual websites is very small indeed.
This is especially true when placed aside the global reach you’ll gain for your business, and the ongoing expansion of your client base which will follow – long into the future.
Though some countries or cultures you’re considering reaching out to might have no data available regarding user patterns, the dramatic sales increases possible through translating your website into other languages makes this a tiny investment with a potentially massive return.
That is of course, as long as you do it right. Even the biggest brands have fallen afoul of poorly localised marketing campaigns, so it’s important that you consult a Language Service Provider who knows the importance of:
• Optimising the localisation of a website, taking into account culture-specific norms and other factors
• Keyword research that’s handled by country and by market, not as direct translations of original English keywords
• Optimising metadata, as well as Ads and AdWords to follow localised requirements
Your translation company should always indicate to you that they understand how critical the above factors are in multilingual website design, otherwise start searching for another provider!
Build your community
If you’ve ever tried negotiating a website that’s been automatically translated (perhaps by Google Translate) from its original language to English – one that’s been designed for users from another culture and doesn’t seem to work quite in the way you’d expect, you’ll understand how instantly off-putting it can be.
If you can’t get the information and find the goods or services you need quickly, you’ll almost certainly give up and try to find another site where you can.
That’s why making it easy for your customers to use your site in their own language is so important. Otherwise you risk haemorrhaging customers to your competitors who have websites which do have multiple language options.
Having customers interacting with your site from all over the world will also be building your community, and the sense among your clients that you do business across the globe. The bigger the community you build, the more your customers will want and be able to interact with each other and spread word of your brand.
Show your cultural sensitivity – and show you care
Linked to the above point is the positive brand values reinforcement which comes from having a multilingual website. In short, catering to your customers’ specific needs in terms of language shows you care at the most basic level of communication.
And if they feel that you care about them, they’re almost certainly going to be more interested in working with or buying from you.
The need to build multi language functionality into a website is increasingly becoming de rigueur for businesses of all sizes. It displays to your clients that you’re sensitive to their needs and preferences – an increasingly vital part of doing business in today’s globalised world – and then makes it easier for them to do business with you.
You can’t put a price on trust.
And buying goods and services over the internet – especially from a company you haven’t used before – is a veritable trust minefield.
This means that any steps you can take to make a user feel at ease – including making sure that your message is localised, that the language you use is correct, and that your website functions in a way that users from all cultures will understand – is one foot closer towards making them comfortable enough to make a purchase from you.
Tell us about your experience of translating your website into another language
Have you recently translated your website into another language? Do you agree with what we had to say? Or do you have a good point that we didn’t cover in our summary?
Tell us about your experience below – or ask any questions you have about website localisation! We always try to respond to comments.