“Can’t Read, Won’t Buy: 2014,” is a catchy title of a report published in April 2014 by an independent research firm Common Sense Advisory (CSA Research). The report contained findings of a survey of more than 3,000 global consumers in 10 non-Anglophone countries in Europe, Asia, and South America. Specifically, the research assessed online language preferences and their subsequent impact on purchasing decisions.
The key findings can be summarised as follows:
- 75% of consumers say that they want the products in their native language.
- 30% never buy at English-language sites, and another 29% rarely do.
- Across the 10-country sample, 56% either spend more time on sites in their own language than they do in English, or boycott English-language URLs altogether.
- Automotive and financial services are the products that consumers are least likely to buy if the website is not in their native language.
- Exactly half would prefer that at least the navigation elements and some content appear in their language, and another 17% strongly share that preference. This finding contradicts the conventional industry wisdom that you should localize everything or nothing.
Considering these findings, Common Sense Advisory Chief Strategy Officer and founder Don DePalma concluded that “there should be no question about localizing your website and product information if you want to sell more goods or services to global customers. Localisation improves customer experience and increases engagement in the brand dialogue. It should be a rigorously planned and executed business strategy for any company looking to grow internationally.” (https://csa-research.com/More/Media/Press-Releases/ArticleID/31/Survey-of-3-000-Online-Shoppers-Across-10-Countries-Finds-that-60-Rarely-or-Never-Buy-from-English-only-Websites)
So why should you translate your website and into which languages?
1. Do you want to increase your customer base?
Clearly the statistics presented above support the need to localise your content and products. If your online presence is only in English, you are missing on over 50% of potential buyers who will never purchase from you.
2. Do you do business abroad already?
If you provide your customers with product descriptions, shipping and payment options and transact in their language, they will feel more comfortable. As a result, they will come back to you for more business because they trust you. When a site is in a language that people don’t understand, they are more likely not to trust it.
3. What is your competition doing?
If they are not doing the same (yet) you can set the standards that others will have to follow, differentiate your brand and gain precious market share before everyone else.
4. Have you examined your website analytics?
Where does the traffic come from? Have you had global visitors who did not stop and buy?
The answer to these questions will also help you establish which languages you should select for your localisation project.
5. Do you attach importance to strong SEO?
You will multiply its rich benefits if you translate your content and carefully choose SEO-rich keywords that greatly helps when global users search in their preferred languages.
6. Tempted by a free solution such as Google Translate?
A penny-pinching attitude really does not pay off here. If you read Google’s own quality guidelines (https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/2721306?hl=en&ref_topic=6001971 ) you will see that they penalise the search engine rankings of websites that use automated content. This includes “text translated by an automated tool without human review or curation before publishing”.
The best way to translate a website that converts and boosts your brand is by hiring a professional experienced translator who intimately understands the language and the local culture. You will avoid developing content that appears foolish and turns the potential buyers off. The media frequently publish the localisation horror stories where lack of cultural and linguistic understanding has led to a ridiculous result. You don’t want your customers to giggle at some stunning mistakes while you claim to deliver state-of-the-art solutions. Your great products and online flagship store deserve great translations.