The recent Measuring the Information Society Report shows that almost every second person in the world has internet access. This opens up possibilities for business that could hardly have been imagined several decades ago, but also creates new challenges. For example, how can information published on a website attract the attention of potential customers living in a completely different cultural environment several thousand kilometres away?
Speak the customer’s language
If you are aiming your website at the international market it is recommended that you start by having your website translated into the languages of the countries you are aiming your business at. Various surveys show that such investment will prove the seriousness of your intentions, respect for the local culture and the desire to be as helpful as possible to your future customers. The research described in the Enterpreneur website shows that customers are up to four times more likely to buy your products or services if they can access the site in their native language. Forrester Research, the technology and market research company, also revealed that use of the local language encourages people to spend twice as much time on the website. So, this too increases the chances that customers will become interested in what you are offering. On the other hand, a lack of information in the native language may well deter customers from making purchase as it is too difficult for them to read the descriptions if they can barely understand the language. This was confirmed by The Common Sense Advisory study which showed that when customers were considering purchasing a product, its description in the native language was a more important factor than the price.
Do not stop at English
It is sometimes still thought that is is enough to adapt a website to English-speaking visitors and it will be attractive to all the international internet community. However, the Statista website reveals that English accounts for barely 26.3 percent of all languages used on the internet. Various studies show that up to 90 percent of EU internet users give priority to information in their native language, and English is only chosen where a version in their own language is not available. More than half of all Google searches are made in languages other than English. Remember 70 percent of the world’s inhabitants do not speak English at all.
So, you should consider your target countries carefully and look at the languages used there for successful business development in foreign markets. A professional translation agency will help you create a translation strategy for your website texts, taking into consideration your business field, markets in which you are going to expand and the languages or their dialects used there.
Machine translation is not an option
You might be tempted to use machine translation of texts when translating website texts into foreign languages as it is usually cheaper than professional translation services. But, if you allocated time and funds for the creation of the original website texts or even hired copywriters, you will most probably want to retain similar quality standards in the versions of website texts adapted to foreign markets. Machine translation may do more harm than good in this case – it is not only the grammar, but the special nuances of the text will be lost without the human factor, and they are vital for expressing the thoughts of the original text. A high-quality translation of a website is the result of teamwork involving experienced translators, language editors and linguists, with project managers supervising the entire process.
Do not forget localization
It goes without saying that the translation of website texts should be free of grammar or stylistic errors, but it is equally important that there be no cultural or notional misunderstandings. This is where localization is necessary – the concept means deeper knowledge of the local context than is required in the case of a general text translation. It is a complicated task entrusted to professional translators in translation agencies who know about cultural nuances such as traditions, customs, religion, attitudes, sayings, etc. When website texts are localized well, website visitors will think that your products and services have been tailored to them in particular and the website content will become attractive, user and reader friendly; funny and sometimes even insulting misunderstandings that could harm your company’s reputation will be avoided.