As the internet continues to grow and reach the remotest parts of the planet, the need for multilingual sites is skyrocketing.
If you’re an international brand who is selling outside of your own country, there will come a time when you debate whether to translate your website or not. And there are many considerations to take into account – is it worth the investment? which languages should I translate my website into? And do my customers need a multilingual website?
So to set you on your merry way into the world of multilingual websites, here are 5 reasons why you probably do need one:
- You are selling to international markets
This one is kind of a no-brainer and should be ringing some sort of website alarm in your head. If you are starting to see interest from a non-anglophone market or have already started trading with one, it’s a good idea to translate your site into their languages.
Why? Because it can only help to localise your website so that your customers understand who you are and are able to interact with you and your services. This is especially crucial for online stores where the user journey is smoother when a customer understands where they’re clicking and heading towards.
Hang fire though before you translate your site in Japanese just because a few people bought a product from you. Only when you see a consistent and stable rise in purchasing from that country should you make that move. And if you operate in several markets and don’t want to litter your website with neon flags, carry out marketing analysis to see which countries are most important to your profit and which countries can be grouped together according to languages – French, Spanish, Arabic and Portuguese are good examples.
- The internet is moving away from its anglophone routes
When the internet first pinged around the world it was created as an English-speaking invention and for a long time, the audience was mostly anglophone. However, times are a changing and where English-speaking audiences are plateauing, other languages are seeing a marked rise in usage. Soon the majority of internet users won’t be anglophone and businesses need to accommodate to this online shift if they want to play on the international stage.
It’s also a business savvy move to translate your site for countries where internet usage was low but is seeing a rise and is now going through its growth stage. You are much more likely to grow a healthy loyalty base, see high engagement and investment in your brand simply because there’s less competition and your audience isn’t weary from the many marketing campaigns circling around the anglophone digital world.
- Localisation can help your brand image
Sometimes a country will ‘get’ your product much more than another country. It might be because its intune with their culture, a localised trend, daily habits or specific environmental factor. When you recognise this fact and translate your site into their language you are tapping into much more potential for global growth than with a site that solely markets in English. You will be seen as customer-centric and focused on understanding someone’s habits, which will encourage customer loyalty and grow your sales.
It can also be seen as arrogant and misguided that you expect your customers in a given country to understand and buy a product in a foreign language. And for some countries that opinion is much stronger than in others. For example, if you’re trading with France, French customers are more likely to negatively judge your brand if it’s solely in English and not in French. And if you know that about your market and produce a French mirror website, you show you understand the people more, bring down cultural barriers and open up the potential to sell to it in the right way.
- International customers can find you
When customers in non-anglophone countries look for products or services they will 95% of the time search for it in their own language. If you have a website that only has English content and SEO, you are allowing your brand awareness to fall between the Google ranking cracks. If you have a webpage and SEO back-end which is written in their language you are more likely to be picked up by their search query and grab their attention because you’ve taken the time to accommodate them and understand their needs.
And for countries such as China, Google is not the default search engine. Homegrown search engines are popular because they prioritise websites in the native language and focus on the habits and needs of their users. And so if you don’t market in the search engine’s language your localised audience is very unlikely to find you.
- Beat your competitors
And finally, if you’re one of the first UK businesses in your trade to translate your site into Nigerian, then you’re already one step ahead of the game. You’ll probably be the UK company in your industry that Nigeria will be most aware of because you started early and grew your customer base before your competitors were on your heels.
Trust is also a big thing when it comes to attracting new customers and keeping them loyal. A multi-lingual site can go a long way to build a fruitful and trusting business relationship with a country you are either doing well in or wish to trade with. If your competitors aren’t following suit then you immediately put yourself a cut above the rest and show that you are truly globally minded but also focused on individual countries.
In the end, it’s quite logical – if you show that you’ve taken the time and energy to understand an audience they’ll more likely find you and want to be a customer. It’s like anything in life, act like you want to be treated – most customers want to know that you understand them, and a huge part of that is communicating in their language.