What’s the difference between a well-translated website and a profitable one? Localization. Compared to translation, which only changes the language your site is in, localization adapts everything in your content that has meaning: images, colors, layout, visual queues, linguistic nuances and more. Localization is the best way to make sure your marketing feels native to new audiences. And it has tangible business benefits too.
1) Increased Sales
When deciding where to buy, 56% of eCommerce customers say having a website in their language is more vital than price. In the travel industry, 80% of EU citizens won’t purchase unless information is in their native tongue.
Numbers like these are why more companies are localizing into more languages than before: According to the 2017 Web Globalization Report Card, the world’s top 25 websites now support an average of 54 languages each. Top retailer on the list is Nivea, which offers a different user experiences from one country to the next. Not only are the products promoted in each locale slightly different due to product preferences in those markets, but even the models used in the imagery reflect the local buyers in different regions. Also, the Nivea websites for right-to-left languages, like Hebrew and Arabic, look just as native as the left-to-right languages (French, German, English, etc). In other words, all localized versions of the website feel native for that specific locale and market.
2) More Loyalty, Less Churn
Nelson Mandela once said, “If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.” When customers churn, US Small Business Administration and US Chamber of Commerce say it’s not because of price: 68% didn’t have a good experience. They bought from you, but something didn’t connect and they aren’t coming back.
Localization speaks to the heart. Using images that are culturally appropriate–like covering women’s heads on the Arabic version of your site–shows you respect your audience’s history, language, culture, and traditions. It makes a connection, one deep enough to keep customers coming back and staying.
3) Better Brand Integrity
Localization ensures brand integrity and checks names and slogans for double meanings and finds brand secure alternatives. It also takes a hard look at the subliminal messages your marketing sends in colors, numbers, and graphics. What’s “normal” in your country may be offensive in your customer’s. Even something as innocuous as cartoon character Bob the Builder isn’t safe: Bob only has 4 fingers, which in Japan means he’s in the mob.
In sum, paying close attention to how your brand is perceived in international markets not only increases sales, improves the customer experience, and strengthens customer loyalty. There are other high stakes involved. Think about the potential dollars that could be wasted on a failed new market entry by not ensuring beforehand that your brand translates into that market. Mistakes not only erode your brand in the long run with that local audience, but they can also create large immediate costs, such as recalling a product or rolling back a promotion in a new market.