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Why website localisation is the key to going truly global

SwissGlobal offers language services for website localisation

If you have spent the time, effort and money on creating a professional website to promote your products and services, that website should have the greatest reach possible. Your website might be doing very well in your domestic market, but conquering markets in different countries with different cultures requires more than just translation. We take a look at what website localisation is, why you should be interested in it and how to go about it.

Providing a better global user experience

Giving visitors to your website a good user experience relies on several different factors, beginning with language. 72% of consumers spend most of their online time browsing websites in their native language. 56% of people even say that being able to obtain information about a product in their native language is more important than the product’s price. Being able to speak a language fluently will get you only halfway there, however: you also need to know how the language is used in your target market. For example, the register typically used in advertising and commercial contexts in Spain is pretty informal, whereas in Latin America, the register is much more formal.  If you launch your website in Latin America with the same text as on your website for Spain, a lot of people are going to think you are being inappropriately familiar. The same applies to the currency used, the way you write addresses, the payment methods available for customers and the privacy policy.

Making customers feel your message is just for them

The next step is to determine whether your target market is actually receptive to the product or service you are selling, and the way in which you are selling it. Starbucks failed in Australia because their coffee was too sweet for Australian tastes and much more expensive than in existing outlets. Walmart tried to conquer the German market, but their greeters and the people bagging customers’ shopping for them were seen by German customers as a little creepy. McDonald’s was a big success in India, but only because it based its branding on its chicken and vegetarian products, since most people in India do not eat beef. It is something to bear in mind when choosing which products or services will appear on your website.

New market, new face

The language of your website and the products and services on offer are not the only thing you might need to change. Sometimes, website localisation involves changing the appearance of a website completely. Take the example of the American website for Nescafé:

The imagery evokes the bounty of nature and the copy appeals to the positive memories and experiences people associate with coffee. Compare and contrast with Nescafé Japan’s website

This website reads more like a fact sheet, with pictures of the specific products Nescafé sells and a description of each of them. This is because Japanese consumers tend to want to know more information about a product before buying it. Similarly, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF)’s website has a newsfeed that shows news specific to the country from which each visitor is browsing the site.

Getting a great return on your investment

So, what are the concrete benefits of website localisation? Are you one of the 40% of global brands that currently have no localisation strategy at all? You might want to take the following points into consideration.

Website localisation will boost your SEO rankings. If you localise your website into 5 languages, it will have 5 times more content than before, and search engines favour websites that are rich in content. In addition, if you localise into only 10 languages, you will reach 80% of the world’s population.

The Localization Industry Standards Association (LISA) found that every €1 invested in website localisation yields an average of €25 in return. A 2011 survey conducted by the European Commission revealed that although 90% of Europeans visit websites in languages other than their own, only 42% will buy products from a website that is not in their native language. Having a fully localised website can increase this conversion rate by 70% on average. This, in turn, will give you a competitive edge.

Another important benefit to website localisation is greater customer loyalty. The more your customers feel you speak their language (both literally and figuratively), the stronger the bond that will be created between you, and the more return customers you will have.

Website localisation can really make the difference in giving your brand the worldwide reach it deserves and helping you unlock new markets and new earning potential. It’s time to go global.