When somebody questions the worth of having a website (or any content) translated for international markets, my natural response is to shudder.
If your company has a solid-performing American-English website and one of your business objectives is to create a French, Spanish or even Chinese version of the site to establish a footprint in a new market, be sure to tread carefully and deliberately. Be sure to localize.
Too many times, we’ve had clients approach us with underperforming international websites only to find out that “website X” was nothing more than a by-the-word translation of their better-performing English language site. “There’s not a lot of actual content in local tongues on websites today,” noted my London-based colleague, Lisa Plumridge, this week at an annual gathering of EVG’s senior team. She went on to explain that her experience in auditing international sites lead her to the same conclusions time and again: companies are paying (well, in some cases) for something their readership – their customers – don’t relate to and, often, are turned off by.
For example, a familiar American English phrase like “throw a monkey wrench in our plans” may translate word for word into French, but that doesn’t guarantee the meaning translates. A native French speaker unfamiliar with tongue-in-cheek English may not get the drift at all, and then what do you have? Answer: a message on your website that doesn’t reach the customer.
Another example: your Spanish (translated from English) site shares the story of how much Cindy and Robbie enjoy the fuel efficiency of their Toyota Yaris. Unfortunately, Cindy and Robbie are very likely not names to which the Mexican audience relates. Nor does is that audience keen to the seven-frame photo gallery of Cindy and Robbie taking their Yaris to a Wisconsin Badger tailgate party. Rather, your Mexican audience may better relate to images of Mayra and Roberto driving past the Zócalo.
A localization specialist, like those employed by EVG, not only understands problems like this, but corrects them so that your site’s content “talks” to your customers in a way that makes sense to and is appealing to them. You might ask, “Is this measurable?” Sure – research shows that localized sites enjoy significantly longer visits than non-localized sites. Localized copy can even help cut down on home page bounce rates, and who wants those? Most important – and I never pass on an opportunity to state this – a localized site is an asset because it actually reaches out to the local market instead of sitting back in an easy chair and waiting for them to “get it.”
In other words, localization can have a huge impact on how your international customers perceive your brand, your products and your services. How much is that worth to you?
– Joseph Hall
VP Content Marketing, EVG