Chris Hutchins's avatar

Chris Hutchins

February 23, 2017

Why Should I Localize My Website?

New website visitors won't stick around if they can't understand your content. What drives successful website translation and localization?

Chris Hutchins's avatar

Chris Hutchins

February 23, 2017

As domestic markets become increasingly crowded and competitive, companies in all industries are looking to grow in global markets. There’s plenty to be excited about, particularly when serving customers online. The global middle class is growing. Internet and e-commerce adoption is through the roof. So is online spending.

If your business hasn’t yet expanded into global markets, there’s a lot to consider. Which markets are worth pursuing? How do you best serve global customers, online? Are there technical or other challenges that might derail your expansion endeavors?

Here’s a quick-guide to get you thinking about the global opportunity—and actionable advice to get you in-market, fast!

Identify and Understand Your New Customers

For starters, you must identify global markets that represent great growth opportunities for your business specifically. Understand that these countries may be different than the “red hot markets” you might read about in Bloomberg or on business blogs. You’re looking to expand into markets that are already expressing interest in your products or services. Chasing after global customers who don’t know your brand is costly, risky and shortsighted.

Identify Your Markets: We recommend a simple way to determine such international demand. Examine the analytics of your domestic, primary-market website. Note the countries where most of your international traffic is hailing from. Are bounce rates high in these markets? If so, these are good signs that customers in those countries are looking for information in their preferred language, but are leaving when they can’t find it.

Remember, these customers might be based in emerging markets, not markets that regularly dominate the headlines.

Chasing after global customers who don’t know your brand is costly, risky and shortsighted.

Understand Those Customers: What are the shopping habits of these new customers? What are their expectations regarding product information, order fulfillment, payment methods and more? Make time to investigate these important nuances—or work with a globalization partner that can share such valuable insights.

For instance, French customers expect excellent customer service, and will shop elsewhere if products and service fall short of their high standards. In contrast, Spaniards are easygoing with customer service and product returns. Italians are adventurous customers, more willing to buy new brands than other Europeans. Spanish-speaking U.S. Hispanics are highly influenced by online ads and testimonials from celebrities.

Knowing such customer behavior is great. But sites that also illustrate cultural fluency—meaning, a working knowledge of a market’s cultural identity, local customs and holidays—can build credibility and trust, quickly.

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Speak the Language—And Speak it Well

Twenty years ago, more than 80% of all online users were native English speakers. By 2010, that had dropped to around 25%, says one author. These days, it’s smaller still.

The Need Is Clear: MotionPoint has long preached that it can be bad business to launch an English-language website in a foreign market, when its customers prefer to speak another language. We’re not alone. A 2014 Common Sense Advisory study revealed that 75% of global customers greatly prefer to buy in their native language.

Another study determined 90% of European customers always choose their native language on a website, when given the option. More than 40% never purchase products and services in other languages, the study revealed. Another survey placed that number as high as 60%.

Twenty years ago, more than 80% of all online users were native English speakers. By 2010, that had dropped to around 25%.

Translate Content: How can companies address this need? The answer, naturally, is website translation and localization. MotionPoint helps companies launch websites in new markets, in those markets’ preferred languages. We leverage linguistic and cultural fluency—and innovative technologies—to connect brands with customers in resonant ways. The business results and market growth are often powerful.

We recommend using translations crafted and edited by humans. MotionPoint offers its customers two levels of human website translation. Our Enterprise offering features a rigorous, multi-step translation and editing process. Our Professional offering features less editorial oversight, but costs less. Both provide terrific translations.

(MotionPoint can provide machine translation to its customers, but we usually don’t recommend using it. Without time-consuming and complex customizations, the technology delivers subpar results. Indeed, a recent translation “battle” in Seoul revealed human translators still beat cutting-edge Neural Machine Translation technologies in terms of accuracy and context.)

Translate Images: While the majority of your website’s images are likely product photos that require no translation, others may feature translatable text. Such images could include call-to-action banners, sales promotions and coupons.

Translating these images is an industry-recognized best practice. In fact, customers often bolt from websites that offer a “mixed-language” experience—such as fully-translated text and headlines, but non-translated images. Interactive or multimedia elements should be translated, too. Failing to translate this content will immediate break the “immersion” of a local site, and risk alienating customers.

Customers bolt from websites that offer a “mixed-language” experience—such as translated text but non-translated images.

Localization: But translation will only get you so far in-market. Your company must transcend translation. Leveraging localizations—meaning, specific words or phrases preferred in specific markets—also generates customer trust in a big way. So do customized market-specific promotions and offers.

Our customers have seen conversion and revenue lifts thanks to these customizations. For one retailer, localized trust messaging boosted checkout rates by 27%, resulting in a projected $11.5 million increase in incremental annual revenue. Another customized promotion, this one for a telecom company’s Spanish-language website, resulted in an 850% increase in site visits, a 43% increase in average order value, and a 117% increase in revenue.

Painless Updates

Another critical component of your online globalization journey is how to manage translated, localized content long after you launch your global websites. Depending on your website’s technology stack or content management system (CMS), this can be a real pain. CMSs often fail to deliver the robust features that are actually needed to efficiently and easily translate and update complex websites.

Automatic Change Detection: In contrast, MotionPoint’s Globalization Platform—a turn-key proxy solution—constantly monitors your domestic, primary-market website for content changes. When new or edited content is detected, the platform automatically queues that content for translation. This content is translated in one business day (or within hours, depending on your SLA). This eliminates the effort and expense of your team manually identifying content and overseeing its translation, from beginning to end.

But our proxy technology doesn’t just translate content hosted on a customer’s “home” server. It also translates content dynamically loaded from third-party services that live on entirely different servers. It also translates content buried within the code of complex website applications. Regardless of its medium or source, if you can view it in a web browser, our solution can translate and localize it.

MotionPoint’s platform will play nicely with your current and future technology stacks. It’s future-proof.

Flexible and Future-Friendly: MotionPoint also offers an API for businesses further along in their globalization journey. This approach allows content integrations between our platform and a company’s e-commerce solution, multilingual CMS, product feeds for virtual marketplaces, and much more.

And since it delivers translated content via a secure, independent translation server, MotionPoint’s platform will play nicely with your current and future technology stacks. It’s future-proof.

Performance-Boosting Technologies & More

Finally, as you explore solutions to help your company expand into new global online markets, keep in mind that that website translation, localizations, worry-free upkeep and future-proof technologies aren’t the only things to look for.

You’ll also want a solution that also provides optimizations that boost traffic, engagement and revenue on your global websites. Look for a partner that can provide elegant (and conversion-boosting!) language preference detection technology and more.

MotionPoint offers industry-leading optimizations like these, and others. They greatly improve traffic and conversion, versus website translation alone.

This blog post is a fine quick-start guide to discovering what’s driving website localization in 2017, but it’s far from comprehensive. To learn much more about this nuanced topic—and how your business can quickly, efficiently and profitably expand into new online markets—contact us for more information.

Photo credit: eWilding/Shutterstock


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