If you sell to customers whose primary language is not English, you will gain significant ROI by adapting your site to the languages, cultures and conventions of the regions in which you do business.
In the past decade, Asia, Africa and the Middle East have all experienced exponential growth in internet usage. In the Middle East alone, the number of internet users has increased 2500% since 2000. In light of this growth the world over, a multilingual, culturally nuanced website has become a powerful tool to help businesses engage their global audiences. Whether you are selling a product or service or simply interacting with foreign branch offices, offering a translated version of your website will boost your company’s global presence.
A matter of comfort
While it is true that English is common as a second language and has become the world’s lingua franca at conferences, for travel, at major hotels, and for some global corporations, it is important to remember that English comprehension can range from native-level fluency down to a only a tenuous grasp of the basics. Indeed, studies show that people are three times more inclined to purchase products and services that have been presented in their language – even those with a high level of English-language fluency.
Expand your reach
One of the goals of a globally successful company is to create and cultivate an image that is recognizable worldwide and that promotes good rapport with your customers. When done right, a properly localized website can help you connect with your customer base, attract new business partners, and enable you to interact seamlessly with overseas branches. If you understand your own needs and goals, it will make the process smoother and give you more control – but like many essential ventures, the process warrants the careful selection of an experienced partner.
Manage the content
Having a flexible, content-managed website is essential when adapting to multilingual markets. Most Content Management Systems have some built-in support to organize multilingual content, although some systems handle it better than others. Within the right CMS, you should be able to adjust and control all of your site’s main content, as well as its navigation structure and information architecture.
Groom your website for translation
Before beginning the process of translation, consider how translation-friendly your website currently is – and how you can make it more so. Apart from the blocks of text found on any website, think of the content that is less obvious, or that is part of your site’s “bells and whistles.” For example, all buttons and interactive features will need to be translated, videos may need voiceovers or subtitles, and there may be content that is meant only for your English speaking users. Deciding which content is appropriate for an international audience is up to you, but researching in advance may save you money and make future updates far easier to handle.