Many “big boys” in the business of international marketing have made some pretty major mistakes. Kentucky Fried Chicken moved into China with its famous slogan, “Finger-Lickin’ Good.” Unfortunately, when translated, it meant “Eat Your Fingers Off.” The American Dairy Association moved into Mexico with its slogan, “Got milk?” And that translated into “Are you lactating?”
If the big boys can make such mistakes, smaller companies are just as vulnerable. And yet, you cannot simply take your website, your blog, and your other content marketing to foreign-speaking audiences in your native English. Even if they have a cursory understanding of English, it will always be a struggle, and they will move on to businesses whose content is in their own languages.
So, spend the time, get some expert help, and localize your content.
Consider the Following
There are over 7000 languages in the world, representing billions of consumers, many of whom have access to smartphones and increasing incomes. In China and India alone, with combined populations of over $2 billion, there is a rising “connected” middle class ready and able to purchase goods.
International E-Commerce is Not Just for the Big Boys Anymore
Many of us have made purchases of items from websites, even Amazon, without realizing that these items are actually coming from another country. And we don’t realize that because those websites or Amazon sellers’ information are in perfect English. And these are not necessarily huge enterprises – they are small to mid-sized companies just like yours. And given the tools and the expertise that you can get, there is no reason not to reach out to foreign-speaking audiences in order to grow your business.
Localization is More than Just Translation
Given the mistakes that the “big boys” have made n the past, companies now realize that localization is far more than just literal translations of website, blog, and marketing content. It is massaging that content to be suitable and appropriate for the cultural/societal principles, values, and more of a foreign audience. And that localization will probably require the use of expert native translators, which you can easily find with just a bit of research. For example, you can access the website Pick Writers and find reviews of the most prominent translation and localization agencies and select one that will meet your current and future localization needs.
That said, let’s look at seven advantages of localizing your content for the foreign audiences you have selected for your e-commerce expansion.
- Your Competition is Already in the Game (or Not)
If you have done your research, you probably know which of your competitors are already localizing their content for foreign-speaking consumers. But you probably also know that many have not yet begun this expansion. Get ahead of the game now, grow your reputation with your target audiences, and become a “go-to” company that can meet their needs and desires.
- Consumers Prefer to Do Business in Their Language
Common Sense Advisory, a research company that focuses on international trade and commerce completed a study on consumerism in 10 countries. They found that, overwhelmingly, consumers prefer content that is in their native languages. They do not feel confident enough in their English reading skills and are less likely to buy when content is only in English. Over 80% of consumers state they want e-commerce content in their native language.
- Localization Honors Cultural Values
It’s not just language that consumers are looking for. They are looking for companies that are willing to go the extra mile to honor their cultures. Thus, a scantily-clad woman would not be an appropriate visual in a largely Muslim country; while an owl represents wisdom in many cultures, it is a symbol of evil in others; white may represent purity in Western cultures, but it symbolizes death in others. When businesses take the time to make their content socially appropriate for potential customers, there is greater trust.
- Localization Provides Ease of Payment Processes
One of the key factors in getting potential customers to actually make purchasing conversions is to streamline the purchasing process in their own currencies. There are so many great tools to do this today, and consumers in foreign countries do not want any hassles when making purchases.
- Post-Sales Support is More Convenient and Satisfactory
When a company has truly localized all of its content and its customer support features, foreign-speaking consumers are more satisfied with issues of returns, exchanges, questions, etc. This satisfaction often means that they will be return customers. It’s all a part of the bigger picture of customizing the consumer experience.
- Localization Will Improve Your SEO Ranking
Localization will optimize your content for international search engines, whether those are the biggies like Google or any other popular more localized search engines of specific countries. If consumers cannot find you through their popular search engines, you might as well not exist at all.
- Localization Means a Competitive Advantage
Of course, this is the biggest advantage of all. But it is only an advantage if your localization is done right. Look carefully at your competition, both that at home and abroad. How are they presenting themselves to consumers, and how can you be better? You may need to bit the bullet here and shell out some money for some localized expertise. But, in the end, if you are really serious about moving into international markets, it will be money well spent.
A Final Word
Do not launch a website, publish a blog or social media post, or finalize any other marketing content until you are certain that your localization efforts have “covered all of the bases.” Get the expertise you need and follow their advice. A bad launch into a foreign market will be a huge blow to your reputation.
Bi-Line: Donald Fomby has been a reviewer of translation/localization agencies for Pick Writers for several years. He has seen the good, the bad, the ugly and the beautiful in localization efforts.