Websites that overlook localisation 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 localisation.
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 with your website’s content in the same way as your home audience. For the best results, you need to localise your website’s language variants and speak to customers in their own 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 wouldn’t want to sell a surfboard to a landlocked country, for example!
Not a wave in sight – best to take your business elsewhere.
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 An out of date webpage from 2012 isn’t going to add much value, whatever language you translate it into!
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’re not leaving your audience to fend for themselves.
Lastly, you may need 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 localisation 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:
Localised top level domain
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.
Our top tip here is, speak to your translation company. Any translation company worth their salt will have lots of experience, and they’ll be able to guide you through the process.
4. Speak the same language
It may sound obvious, but if you speak your customer’s language, they’re more likely to trust you:
(Source: 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 which 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 might 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 gains 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 a substantial 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’s ideals and delivers on quality. Ultimately, your localised website design should reflect your brand image.
7. Go professional!
It can be tempting to get a free translation tool for localising 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 only have one chance to impress your customers, so don’t scare them away with bad translations!
Yes, you read that right. Child shredded meat. We doubt this customer went for this wording intentionally; it’s likely that they chose to cut corners by opting for free machine translation. Does it make you think more or less of the company and their products? If they don’t care about how their translations sound, are they cutting corners on quality too? Professional translation builds a strong international identity for a brand, ensuring global customers feel they can trust your product or service.
When you’re trying to win customers, it’s important to keep things as clear as possible. A poor translation will only confuse matters, leading to mistrust and raising questions about the quality and integrity of your brand.
You can avoid language mishaps by using a professional translation service. If you’re only translating into one language, a freelance translator might be just what you need. If you’re translating into multiple languages, go to a professional translation company. They will ensure your text is consistently translated across all languages, and they’ll also help you to save money through using cost-cutting translation technology.
A well-translated website pays for itself. Don’t cut corners, get some advice, and use a professional translation agency. They work on projects like this all the time, and their knowledge and experience will be invaluable.
Localising your website can help you reach more customers and increase sales. Think about site structure, keywords, and don’t be tempted to 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 localisation, do it right, do it well, and stand out from your competitors.
Do you need professional website localisation? We’d love to help – contact us today!