Today’s post comes courtesy of Sophie Howe, Managing Director, Comtec Translations
Your Website Could be Missing Out on 1.5 Billion Internet Users Just Because it is in English
There are 2.1 billion internet users worldwide and tens of millions of businesses that have an online presence. With over half of Google searches in languages other than English, this means that websites written in English only reach around 565 millions users worldwide.
There is a misconception that the majority of the world still speaks English, but this is not the case. In fact, 510 million internet users view content online in Chinese, whilst Spanish and Japanese are fast-rising online languages, accounting for 165 million and 99 million internet users respectively. This could present major barriers for businesses that are looking to trade internationally.
How to Reach Those 1.5 Billion Internet Users Who Don’t Read English Websites
E-commerce is a burgeoning industry throughout the world and areas such as Spain are heading towards a 19% growth rate in e-commerce by 2016. However, research from the International Data Corporation reports that customers are four times more likely to pay for a product online if they can buy it in their own language, and translating your website into different languages for your international target audiences is not as difficult as you might think. With the Common Sense Advisory suggesting that translating your website into 11 key languages will help you reach 80% of the world’s online consumers, is it time for you to think about using a professional translation service?
It All Starts With a Plan
Translating your business information, whether online, in your marketing materials, or in your advertising, you need to do it properly. Even if you are already exporting your goods or services it wouldn’t do any harm to review your international business and marketing strategy. One of the key areas to focus on is understanding your target audiences and your international markets. Start with researching your market, check out demand for your services in a particular country using Google Analytics and Google Market Finder. Find out what level of demand there is for your products, and the main languages used.
When you have identified your relevant target markets, it is time toseek some of the advice readily available. The UKTI can help with market research into certain countries. Its Overseas Market Introduction Services and Export Marketing Research Scheme can help you to understand international trade.
Internationalising Your Online Presence
Before your website becomes multi-lingual, it needs to be in good English. Have a good read through and make sure there is no slang or words that may mean something culturally different when interpreted. Remember, also, to localise your keywords to enhance SEO across different countries and think about words people are likely to search for.
Make sure you get your domains right. Dot com is not a global domain. You need a domain that reflects your target audiences in the different countries. You could even use subdomains or set up specific folders within your top level domain so you have a series of microsites relevant to each country you are targeting. It’s the same with social media. Different countries use different social networks so you need to use more than Facebook to reach an international audience.
There is a lot you can do yourself, but you are probably also focusing on other aspects of running your business. Most exporters turn to the professionals to make sure they get it right. At Comtec we have over 30 years experience in international trade. We understand language barriers that can hold up trading internationally. But we provide more than translation services, we act as your international partners, working with you through the whole process of internationalising your business including website translation, localisation, marketing interpretation and more. There are numerous online tools available to help with translation, but nothing can beat the experience and knowledge of foreign markets that we possess. When your international leads start coming in, you need ways of making the most of them and with a professional translation company at your disposal you can respond to enquiries quickly.
Sophie Howe is Director of Operations at Comtec Translations where she helps many companies internationalise through translation services. She is responsible for the design and delivery of business strategy, staff management and development, sales, marketing and development of promotional material as well as the management of language translation projects. Throughout her career Sophie has helped many big businesses find rewarding routes to market in many different countries.