In the era of fast internet, technology developments and globalisation it is extremely common for consumers to find themselves on a website of a company which is based in another country and written in a foreign language. In fact, a recent study suggests that over 25% of customers in the EU now purchase goods from foreign online shops regularly. Yet, 95% of those people are more inclined to buy if the information is available in their native language. As you can see, in order to turn such visitor into a customer, companies must do whatever is in their power to accommodate them and influence their consumer behaviour, as the potential lying within foreign markets is truly great.
There is a number of factors which can influence whether a visitor will decide to purchase your goods or services. Many business owners think that simply translating the content on their website using an online tool such as Google translate will do the trick, however, this isn’t the case. Translation is merely one of many pieces of puzzle in adapting your business website to new language markets. Your website’s functionality, design, imagery or even colour palette are other crucial elements to create a relevant experience for your users abroad.
Although there are many free translation services and tools available online which can translate your website in the matter of minutes, these still aren’t quite able to translate accurately, and although they are continuously developing, working with a professional agency is still strongly advised. This can be especially beneficial when working with marketing material such as websites or leaflets. Online tools tend to translate the content word-for-word, which in many cases results in blunders and those can consequently truly harm your brand image. Therefore, although this can take much longer and might need to be incorporated within your budget, when translating your website, especially for business purposes, you should approach a translation agency. Such agencies offering professional translations not only adapt your content to your target market and audience instead of translating word-for-word, but also localise and advise you on other aspects of your website such as design or language used. Translation Services in United Kingdom usually include language translation, proofreading and localisation, ensuring that your website is fully adapted for new visitors and markets. A professional translation will also help search engines such as Google to display your site in their search results and therefore make your website easier to find for internet users in your target market. Additionally, it is extremely important to make each site element as relevant as possible, from top-level navigation to inquiry forms. Your customers will thank you!
Localising your website is an extremely important step when approaching new, foreign markets. If a customer must work in order to understand and translate your message – you’ve lost them. Consequently, communicating with your audience in their everyday language is crucial in order to achieve a commercial success. Localising your brand’s online presence is truly significant as different groups react different to different stimuli, such as symbols, messages or even colours. A message which worked perfectly fine in your home market might cause offence in another and damage your brand. A successfully translated marketing message will directly translate into your target languages and cultures, evoking the same emotions and carrying the same associations in the target language as it does in the source language. Another important factor to bear in mind are nuances such as time & date formats, local currency or payment options. Working with a translation agency will ensure that all of these important criteria are fully met, translated and localised.
Making sure that the images used on your website reflect your target market and appeal to the potential customers can, in many cases, be key. An award winning website of Nivea has a number of localised versions each of which reflects local consumer. If you flip through some of the international homepages, you’ll notice that Nivea.com uses different graphics and photography to make each sub-page appear more native and localised. Looking at this from a strictly marketing and branding perspectives, it makes a perfect sense that the Japanese or Indian homepages use models and scenery which are unique to that particular market, making it more appealing to the potential clients. Image relevancy and greater familiarity can work together in order to deliver a much better brand exposure, product/service sales, and an overall experience catered to target markets.
When working with foreign markets and languages such as Arabic, Hebrew or Japanese it is important that the layout and design of your website remains flexible and adaptable to the local visitor. A great example of a website which is fully adaptable is Microsoft’s site and their model for switching between left-to-right and right-to-left languages, such as English and Arabic. Another example can be the IBM’s website version for Israeli market. Interestingly, a search bar which traditionally appears in the top-right corner has been moved to the left and the icons are reversed for right-to-left readability. Arrows that typically point right are also switched.
As you can see, preparing your website for a foreign market and users speaking another language isn’t as simple as it might seem at first. There are many different factors which can influence whether your visitors will turn into customers or simple leave your website. From translating and localising your content and website features to layout and images – everything plays an important part in adapting your website, which can only be truly successful abroad if all of the conditions are met.