As a business owner, one of your primary goals is obviously to expose your company to as many potential customers as possible. You’ve probably done everything possible to achieve that goal, from maintaining an active blog to promoting your brand on social media. Hopefully, you’ve also set yourself up to fulfill international orders. There is still one potential opportunity that you’ve overlooking, though, and that’s translating your website into foreign languages. Why haven’t you translated your website? Chances are that you’re nervous about what the work would cost, and you aren’t sure how long it would take to recoup your investment. Skilled translators, after all, aren’t cheap.
So, is it a worthwhile investment to translate your website? Here are the reasons why website translation could actually be one of the best investments that you ever make into your business.
COVID-19 Has Increased International Buying
During the COVID-19 pandemic, many cities and states around the world are on lockdown, with many local businesses shuttered indefinitely. People are having trouble finding the things they need locally, either because the places where they normally shop are closed or because those stores are having trouble keeping things in stock. Major online sellers like Amazon and eBay are experiencing the same problem; hoarding and speculation have created artificial shortages of everyday products like flour and canned goods.
So, COVID-19 shutdowns have created two situations.
- People are having trouble finding the products they want locally, so they’re buying online.
- The major sellers are having trouble keeping things in stock, so people are more willing to buy from unfamiliar sellers – even if those sellers are international.
The vaping industry is one of the industries most affected by the pandemic. In most of the cities that are shut down, vape shops are not considered essential services and are therefore closed as well. As a result, many of those who vape have resorted to buying their e-liquid and other vaping products online. Premium Vape – a New Zealand vape shop – has localized its website for many regions around the world and has seen a noticeable bump in international business as a result.
Automatic Translation Leads to a Bad Customer Experience
Have you ever visited a foreign website and used your browser’s automatic translation so you could read the content? If you have, you probably found that the text was riddled with spelling, grammar and punctuation errors. Sure, you could probably understand the text – but if the website was trying to sell products, would you have felt confident about buying? Probably not. Automatic website translation leads to a customer experience so bad that it’s probably not worth the trouble.
Automated translations may also be bad for your website’s search engine rankings. Representatives from Google have said that, due to the poor quality of machine-translated text, such text probably won’t earn high rankings. Google’s webmaster guidelines also frown on machine-generated text in general, and automatic translations are definitely machine generated. You can always have a human proofread your automatically translated text, but that may not cost significantly less than having the text fully translated by hand.
People Prefer to Shop Online in Their Own Language
As an English speaker, you have the luxury of speaking a language that many people in other countries also speak. English is the language of business, and many students in foreign countries who decide to take up second languages choose English for that reason. Having a working knowledge of English, however, isn’t the same thing as speaking it fluently. People overwhelmingly prefer shopping in their own language.
In 2014, CSA Research surveyed more than 3,000 online shoppers in nations such as France, Spain, Germany and China. Of those who responded to the survey, 75 percent expressed a preference to shop online in their native language. A whopping 60 percent stated that they either rarely bought from websites with English-only text or did not buy from those websites at all. The survey conclusively proves that, if your website isn’t available in your customers’ primary languages, you’re going to lose potential business.
How to Localize Your Website the Right Way
Translating your website is a major investment, and if you’re going to do it, it’s important to do it right. In fact, it might be wise to stop thinking in terms of translation and start thinking in terms of full localization. Localizing your website isn’t just about making sure that people can understand the text; it’s also about giving your customers the feeling that they aren’t just another place on a list of regions where you’re willing to ship. You want them to know that you’re really serious about earning their business. Here’s how you do it.
- Find a translator who lives in or has lived in the region if possible. Remember that true localization isn’t just about translating the words; it’s also about translating the flavor of the words. Some additions – like regional idioms – can make text feel local and greatly improve the reader’s experience. You’ll only get those things with a true native speaker.
- Let foreign visitors know that they’re viewing a website developed specifically for them. A welcome message on your website’s home page, for example, can be very effective. When a potential customer’s country is just another location on a drop-down list, that doesn’t feel like a localized experience. A message on the home page like “Offering FAST and FREE shipping to Italy!” can go a long way toward giving potential customers the confidence to buy from you.
- Don’t forget the value of your blog when localizing your website. Peppering your blog with an occasional article geared only toward a specific region – a report on a current news event, for example – may attract organic traffic and will definitely make your website feel more local.
- Do everything you can do make the buying process easy and fast for international customers. In the welcome message at the top of your home page, it might be useful to state what the average shipping time to that country is and how much shipping will cost. Customers in other nations want to know that they won’t need to wait long for their products, and nothing irks a potential buyer more than getting all the way to the checkout page only to find that they’re going to pay a gigantic shipping charge if they want to complete their purchase.
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