Why Localization Is Essential To Website Conversion
|August 14, 2011||Posted by Carmen under Localisation|
Localization often takes a back seat in the marketing world. Many companies are too ethnocentric to even consider non-English speaking markets to be worth pursuing but, in this economy, who can afford to be arrogant enough to turn away any potential customers?
Despite the opportunity to expand into international online markets, Marketing Directors tend to feel more comfortable focusing on their own countries online, perhaps through lack of knowledge or awareness of how easy and cheap it can be to test potential foreign markets online. Even targeting minorities in your own country could increase your website’s performance and sales: in the United States, there are over 43 million Hispanics/Latinos with a purchasing power of more than $800 billion a year, and almost 16 million of them are on the Internet. It’s because of impressive numbers like these that companies like Best Buy have started to launch Hispanic American sites.
Many companies are now creating country-specific websites in an effort to capture international markets, often by simply translating their existing sites. Unfortunately, this isn’t good enough in most cases: carefully crafted sales copy, marketing messages, communication and calls to action all suffer through literal translations. Literal translations will leave your company’s site looking unprofessional, lowering customer trust and goodwill towards your brand.
Having an online presence has unintentionally introduced many products and services into the global market before they had been prepared internationalization. There are a large number of non-English speakers who will purchase goods from English-language sites despite the language barrier. If you analyse your site traffic and find that you have a large volume of international traffic, you may want to create one or more country sub-sites, tailored to that traffic, to increase website sales or conversions.
It is important to remember that there is a difference between translation and localization: a good localization service will convert your existing content and communication tools into a message and tone of voice appropriate to the target region, while maintaining the integrity of your brand. The challenge is often cultural rather than linguistic, and translating brands and slogans around the world is a difficult task, with which even multinational giants like Pepsi, Genral Motors and Kentucky Fried Chicken have had issues.
Pepsi’s slogan “Pepsi Brings you Back to Life,” literally translated into Chinese, became “Pepsi Brings Your Ancestors Back from the Grave,” whilst KFC’s slogan “finger lickin’ good” became “eat your fingers off.” General Motors had a perplexing problem when they introduced the Chevy Nova in South America: despite their best efforts, they weren’t selling many cars until they realized that, in Spanish, “nova” means “it won’t go”. Sales improved dramatically after the car was renamed the “Caribe.”
Your individual country sites should not just be translated and then left to gather dust. Language is only one barrier in cross cultural communication, and calls to actions and sales copy will also need to tailored to your target audience. Even in English, messages can be “lost in translation” when they cross the Atlantic, especially when dealing with humour, style, design, fashion and music: the difference between radio advertisements in the US And the UK is dramatic, even when they are for the same product, because of the need to pitch for different markets.
Your website’s performance and conversion rate are affected by its communication, sales incentive, design and layout. Different cultures have different associations with dates, colours and images. For example, it would be unwise to begin a large sale in the US on September the 11th, purple is associated with mourning in Latin America, and some site layouts may pose difficulties in countries that do not use Roman alphabet.
Bricks-and-mortar food chains, such as McDonalds, have found that changes to their menus are a great way to “golocalize” their brand without losing their identity. McDonalds changes its menus in different regions in order to appeal to the local culture: in a McDonald’s in Belgium or Holland, you’ll be given the option of fritesaus over mayonnaise, in Canada you can enjoy a locally-inspired Poutine instead of your fries, and in India you can get one of these fantastic looking McAlooTikka burgers!
If you have country sites, they may be lacking in “glocalization.” Your websites are far more likely to succeed in an international market when the communication, products and services are adapted to the local culture of their target areas. Glocalization can be easily achieved by engaging with your audience on a local level. Employing local agencies will help you pitch to your target audience more effectively, and they will be able to point out any potential pitfalls in your campaign communication.
Online communication allows you to reach a larger audience and to behave as a local brand for them: it’s important to speaking to them locally as well!
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