3 reasons to localize your website

 by anthony on  |
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It’s possible that your business has, up to now, overlooked the value of localizing your website and maybe even missed out on key growth opportunities in doing so. But don’t feel bad if you’re guilty of this, because you’ve joined a long list of others that have fallen into the same trap at some point.

There are many reasons for this, but one that frequently pops up is a general lack of understanding around the concept of localization and the potential benefits it can offer your business. We’re all aware of free tools like Google Translate, which are far from perfect but do offer translation services at their most basic level.

Localization is a far more in-depth and specialized process. It’s not just translating your content; it’s adapting and tailoring it to whatever your target audience needs, while adding a context and human tone that a straight translation just doesn’t offer. But why does this matter to your business? Let’s find out:


Avoid Being Misunderstood

As we discussed in a previous post, leaving your content in the hands of a machine translation service is a risky maneuver. Machine translations don’t account for the context of your post or add any tone of voice, they take your content and stick it into another language, regardless of any other factors. These issues won’t impact too much on low priority pages, but are absolutely crucial when you’re trying to convey your brand message or present your business to new markets.

The direct nature of a machine translation runs the risk of creating confusing content that your customers will struggle to understand. Put yourself in your customers’ shoes – would you really purchase something from a site that is littered with grammatical errors and looks generally unprofessional? If you answered “no” (we hope you did), then you understand the negative sales impact this will have on your business.

Losing sales in the short term ultimately means losing customers in the long term, as you can imagine people are unlikely to return to your website if they’ve had a poor experience. Retaining your customers can also have a potentially massive impact on your profits – Rosetta Stone indicate that improving customer retention rates by just 5% gives your business the potential to increase profits from 25% to 80%.

Without proper localization of your site, you run the risk of being misrepresented by your content and misunderstood by your customers, both of which will impact negatively on your retention rates. To steal a catchphrase from Mindjumpers:

“Content might be the King, Queen, Prince and Court Jester, but Context is the Crown.”


Expand Your Audience

There are over 7,000 languages spoken around the globe and your monolingual site is only catering for the people who speak that language. Straight off the bat, you’re missing out on literally an entire world of potential customers and sales. Take English, for example:

It’s the third most common language on the planet, accounting for roughly 360 million people (about 5.6% of the global population). That might seem like a large target market, but you’re ignoring the 955 million Mandarin speakers and 405 million Spanish speakers who make up the top two most common languages.

That’s over 1.3 billion people you’re bypassing through having a monolingual site and that figure only rises if you count the remaining top ten languages. Still not convinced? A post by Chief Marketer stated that your website will have the ability to speak to 80% of all internet users by serving it in just 11 languages. Out of the 7,000+ we spoke of earlier, that’s a pretty worthwhile and very achievable figure.

This isn’t an exact science, of course, as a percentage of your visitors might speak other languages or use machine translation services to decipher your content. Even if this is the case, over half of those visitors may be lost as potential conversions. A survey by the Common Sense Advisory showed that 55% of consumers said they would only buy products from websites that provided them with information in their own language.

In other words, even if you’re getting high volumes of traffic from around the world, over half of them will not reach the end of the conversion funnel if you don’t serve your content in their native tongue. That’s a lot of missed opportunities by anyone’s standards.


Enhance the Customer Journey

As technology develops and becomes faster, the patience of those using it wears thinner. People expect to see what they want instantly and seldom stick around if they can’t find it. You’re asking for trouble if your site has issues like slow loading times, a complicated sitemap or a lack of information in the right places. If your content is relevant, easy to find and is served in the customer’s language then you’ve got a much better chance of making a conversion and offering a positive customer journey.

The localization process serves to encourage longer, more frequent visits which will result in an increase in your conversions over the long term. A study by Forrester Research showed that 95% of Chinese online consumers indicated greater comfort levels with websites that were displayed in their own language. As we mentioned earlier, Mandarin is the top spoken language in the world and it would be a poor business decision to pass up on an opportunity to enhance the experience of 955 million potential customers.

You can take this a step further by focusing on things like background color, font types, images or anything else that can be tweaked to further localize your site. Machine translations are incapable of coining colloquial phrases or customizing landing page images that your customers can identify with, thus inhibiting the localization process and overall customer journey.

Final Word

If you’ve read this far, we’re guessing that website localization is a relatively untapped resource in your business arsenal. It’s a topic that requires a certain degree of self-learning, but is an infinitely rewarding move if you can execute it in the right way. If you're hoping to globalize your business, localizing your site is a must. To learn more about how to localize your site, check out our post on the 5 Key Considerations for Successful Website Localization.


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