The simple answer is because it’s the world wide web. According to independent research firm, Common Sense Advisory, 72% of consumers spend most or all of their time on websites in their own language and 90% choose a native language website when available. Only 27% of Internet users speak English as their first language. Globalization experts note the fastest growing consumer market opportunities today are in developing countries.
The web provides a direct route of communications and business to billions of potential global customers. A company website is typically the main digital marketing asset utilized by an organization to reach people. The content on a company website forms the basis of a global business – not just branded marketing materials, it often contains e-commerce and customer service features.
A company .com presence has the highest reach potential impact of branded material, accessible by anyone, anywhere, providing they have Internet access. According to the United Nations, nearly 3 billion people around the world will have access to the Internet by the end of 2014.
When we want to buy something or have a query about a product or brand, what’s the first thing we do? We reach for our laptop, phone or tablet and look for that information on the web. The Internet is crammed full of sites and content, all competing and vying for attention and hits. Localizing your website, its content and user interface (UI), demonstrates your organization is truly global and shows respect to your international customer base.
What are the main reasons for website localization?
To create the best user experience possible. A localized website will increase web visitor retention or “stickiness.” Creating a web experience at a local level speaks directly to your customers and makes them want to buy into your brand promise. We all want to create the best user experience at every touch-point customers have with our brand.
Scaling up global reach of your website will scale up your global business activity. Launching multilingual versions of your company website is a quick and (relatively-speaking) economical way to expand global business operations. Localization can lead to growth and increased brand equity. Content posted on the main website can also be linked and accessed via the growing number of social media channels which enable more two-way conversations with customers. This also means you have to speak to your customers, in their language, in all communication channels that stem from the main website.
To reduce risk. Publishing material in the native language reduces the risk of content being misunderstood and misrepresented. Each geographical territory will have varying levels of standards, best practices and legislation as well as cultural and religious norms that have to be met in order to do business around the world. Access to support documentation in the native language prevents any ambiguous interpretation of content, technical and otherwise.
Many modern websites today go way beyond static information. Many host numerous dynamic elements, often including multimedia components such as video, audio and graphics. As well as hosting a variety of content types, a website also needs to be found and accessed on all popular platforms. Translating keywords is not enough. SEO localization is a key component of a website localization strategy as is adapting website content to be accessible and readable on all platforms, including mobile. Effective website localization requires a multi-tiered global team of web localization experts including globalization advisors, linguists, content reviewers, SEO specialists, web engineers, testers and project managers.
The return on investment of website localization can be measured directly by monitoring the increase in site visitors and sales to each language-version. This makes website localization easily integrated into the overall global business strategy and any budget justifiable to key stakeholders.
Louise Law, Communications Manager at Welocalize
Welocalize specializes in website localization, working with the world’s leading global brands in driving awareness, reach and engagement across the globe. Contact us today if you would like further information about our web localization experience and expertise. Click here to see Welocalize’s Guide to Web Localization.