With a range of automated webpage translation tools available, you might be thinking that’s enough because your audience will be able to understand what you’re saying, right? Well, not quite. Creating content for international markets is a little more complex – it entails a process called localisation. And not localising content correctly can be a real stumbling block when trying to win over audiences abroad, as different cultures have different norms and expectations when consumers buy products or services.
In this article we’ll explain what localisation is, and why it’s essential if you want to make your brand go global.
What is localisation?
If you’re familiar with translation, you may be wondering exactly how localisation differs from it.
While there is a fair amount of overlap between the two, simply put, localisation goes much further than just translating content from one language into another.
GALA (Globalization and Localization Association) defines localisation as: ‘the process of adapting a product or content to a specific locale or market’, and translation is just one element of this. Localisation may include:
- Converting things such as currency and units of measurement
- Writing dates, addresses, phone numbers, etc., in the local format (e.g. how dates are written in the UK vs. in the US)
- Amending content so that it will appeal to the target audience – this may include adapting, adding or removing text, or being creative when translating idioms or wordplay
- Modifying graphics to suit the target market – different cultures interpret colours and images differently (see this infographic to find out what different colours signify around the world), so you’ll need to make sure they’re appropriate
- Adapting the layout
- Changing domain names
The overall aim of localisation is to give the impression that the content was created specifically in the reader’s native language, and that the product or service being offered is aimed just at them.
Why is localisation so important?
Making content understandable and accessible for audiences in other countries is essential if you want them to buy what you’re selling. While English is the world’s lingua franca, research by Common Sense Advisory shows that 75% of consumers whose native language is not English would prefer to buy products in their native language, while 30% never buy from English-language sites.
But translation alone is not enough, and localisation is necessary if you want to break into international market. Here are 3 reasons why it’s so important:
Customers will trust your brand
As the stats from CSA show, consumers prefer to buy from sites which are in their own language. Let’s face it, we would probably all prefer to browse a website in our own language, and we’d be a bit more confident in what we’re purchasing if the webpage looks and feels familiar.
Making content suitable for a specific locale shows that you’re serious about reaching out to consumers there, and in turn they’ll have confidence in your brand and what you’re delivering.
Your brand is more visible
By indicating localised versions of websites in the URL structure and adapting keywords for different markets, you’ll boost your SEO.
This means that many more potential customers around the world will encounter your brand.
Increase market share & revenue
Just over 25% of internet users browse sites in English. By not localising content, you could be missing out on a huge slice of the remaining 75% of the market.
By being more visible to consumers in other countries, you’ll be able to access a greater share of the global market, and by inspiring the confidence of customers in your brand with localised content, you’ll see an increase in sales and revenue.
Getting localisation wrong could be costly, and the internet is full of humorous examples, such as Pepsi’s Chinese translation of ‘We bring you back to life’ which was translated as ‘We bring your ancestors back from the grave’.
While we may laugh, these sorts of errors might make potential customers think twice before they buy, so they can be costly. It’s worth investing in high quality localisation if you want to attract and retain customers from different markets in order to make your business go global.