One thing that growing businesses have in common is this – they are seeking foreign audiences – audiences who are looking for the products or services they offer. Indeed, it’s a global economy now, and the competition for foreign markets is huge.
Do you have a strategy for translating and localizing your website, your blog, your social media postings?
The Groundwork First
But before you even do that, have you done the groundwork? Do you know that there is actually a market for what you are offering? How much competition do you have? Do you have any contacts in the countries you want to move into? All of these things must be researched before making the key decision to go into any specific foreign market.
But there are foreign markets for virtually any business, and once you find yours, you need to be ready with a strategy that you can implement immediately.
Here are six reasons why you want to be ready with your strategy, so you can “strike” quickly.
Grow Your Business and Your Revenue
Most companies hit a revenue plateau. The market is somewhat saturated, the competition is tough, and you need to find a new target audience.
Many have gone before you – Amazon, Netflix, Apple. And it’s not just the big guys. Many small-to-medium companies are now moving in the same direction.
And if you want to stay competitive, then you will start thinking about translating and localizing your website and other content for those foreign audiences that your research shows are promising.
And here’s the thing if you are an American company. Just translating your content into Spanish will reach an entirely new market within your own country. According to a Pew Research study, there will be 43 million Spanish-speaking residents of the U.S. by 2020, an 78% already state that they utilize the Internet.
You should also consider expanding into Canada. This country has two official languages – English and French.
Provide an Improved Customer Experience
You already know how important customer experience is to your brand. When your website is stunning, clear, rapidly loading, and easily navigated, visitors tend to stay. And when your content is exciting, entertaining, or even inspirational, they want to stay even longer.
You probably have a great blog and key social media presences, and you post regularly and often. This keeps visitors coming back too.
But if a visitor is interested in your products, and that visitor struggles with the language, it just becomes too much effort and he will go somewhere else – maybe to a competitor who has taken the time to translate and localize all of his content.
Translation vs. Localization: As we speak to what constitutes a good customer experience, we have to speak of more than just translation. We have to speak of what is known in the translation industry as localization.
Localization is a cultural thing. It means that content is appropriate for the social mores and values of the target audience. An owl may symbolize wisdom in our culture, but in others, it is a sign of evil. The color white may signify purity in western cultures, but it is a symbol of death in others. You probably get the idea. And it is the same with words and phrases.
For these reasons, it is strongly recommended that your strategy for translation NOT be one of using plugins and other automated translations. Google translate has certainly improved over the years, but it has a long way to go before being able to pick up cultural and language nuances, and that may never completely happen – it would take an inordinate amount of machine learning.
You must include the seeking out of a professional translation service that uses humans – native to your target audience – to provide the localization you need. For more detail on this, check out localization information and blog posts on The Word Point. You’ll find a much more detailed explanation of what is involved in localization.
You Will Need to Build Trust in Your Brand
Every word you publish says something about you and your brand. Visitors to your site immediately evaluate you. If they like what they see, they are willing to begin building a relationship that will probably end with conversions.
When you take the time and true effort to honor the language and culture of a foreign audience you have targeted, that audience will begin to appreciate you and your brand. Trust will be developed. And with trust often comes purchases.
Think about how you have built credibility with your current audience. You have contact information; you have shown the people on your team, perhaps told their stories; you have visuals of your workplace and your team; you are involved in your community, perhaps through charitable activities or sponsorships.
People are the same all over the world. You will need to develop a strategy that will build trust and credibility on the part of your foreign audiences too. This is when a great localization specialist can become invaluable.
Beating the Competition
This is probably the most compelling reasons for having a translation strategy. The global economy is already upon us and only continues to grow. We order shoes, clothing, and all sorts of other products from China. In fact, when you order a pair of Nike tennis shoes online, they will probably come from China. And with well over a billion websites in the world, many of them selling products or services, we often do not know where an e-commerce company may actually be located. LinkShe is a prime example. It’s a women’s clothing retailer based in Shanghai, but you would never know it by their website content – so American.
So, you have competition in your niche. You have other native companies offering the same products or services. You also have competition from foreign markets who are increasingly “invading” your native space.
If you want to stay competitive, you have no option but to develop a translation strategy and begin to implement it as quickly as possible. As the saying goes, “Time waits for no man.”
Compliance with Local Law
Once your groundwork is complete, and you have made decisions about what foreign markets are viable, your translation strategy must include some deep research into the laws and regulations governing businesses, even online ones, that intend to do business in a target country. For this, you will need professional legal advice, and locating that expert in the target country could take a bit of time.
Increase Traffic to Your Website
Obviously, increased traffic means increased revenue. It really is a number’s game. You need to go global to get that increase, and that means you must translate and localize. There really isn’t any other option.
Globalization is upon us. And it is a growing phenomenon that cannot be ignored. If you want to remain competitive, grow your business, and increase your revenue, you must develop a strategy to participate in this new economy. And that strategy must involve translation and localization Being prepared to move when the time is right is important.