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The question of whether or not to localize your online presence is best answered by knowing your international market, your short and long-term goals and the strength of your brand.
If you have a strong, globally recognized brand, then chances are you can do business online in the short term in spite of not having localized content, and you may already be seeing international online sales via your English website. Luxury clothing brands, for example, are readily sought after in-market because of their globally recognized brand value – and international consumers may be more forgiving about the lack of a localized experience in the earlier stages of local product launch. By focusing your international sales efforts on markets across the world that have a strong understanding of English, you may be able to achieve some international growth in the short term.
However, the greater the competitive landscape in-country, and the more sophisticated the economy, the more it matters to local consumers that they have access to localized content, particularly when you have an eCommerce site and are trying to drive online purchase behavior. The CSA’s study in 2006, refreshed in 2014, called “Can’t Read, Won’t Buy,” found that 60% of international consumers, regardless of English language ability, rarely or never buy from English-only sites. And interestingly, countries with a higher understanding of English, but with more mature economic and competitive environments, can be even more demanding of an authentic localized experience.
For example, if you’re targeting western Europe, you may find that providing a high-quality localized online experience will make the difference between success and failure.
If your ultimate goal is to grow your international customer base, then localizing your content will be necessary. Not rushing to localize everything, however, is also advisable. Translating your website gets you an online presence, but it’s the baseline and doesn’t in itself drive user engagement and sales. Working with a localization partner that can help you determine the market opportunity and plan your localization strategy will help ensure that you get results out of your localization investment.More
Google Translate is a great tool for gaining the gist of content in another language, and it can be helpful in translating purely informational content. However, Google Translate has serious limitations when it comes to the accuracy of even remotely creative content.
Most companies that are considering localizing their websites (i.e., adapting content and visuals for international markets) are doing so because they see an opportunity to sell their products, services and, ultimately, their brands to customers abroad.
In order to truly engage with international customers, the quality of your translated content – on your website, advertising and marketing collateral – is absolutely key to making the most of the market opportunity.
A poor translation, whether produced by a machine like Google Translate or a low-cost translation service, conveys the wrong message to your international audiences. Your international customers may understand your translated content, but they’re unlikely to feel connected to your brand or trust your product unless their experience of your in-language content is authentic. And unless your online content is optimized for local search trends, you risk not being found by your potential buyers in simply translating your US English. Google Translate cannot optimize your content for search.
We would advise against using Google Translate to provide translated content to international audiences, unless your sole intention is to provide nothing more than basic information. If you want to inspire action in your international audience, and achieve international growth, then it’s a good idea to work with a professional localization service provider and consider not only how to provide quality local content, but also what digital tactics you should employ locally to drive traffic to your website and inspire local user engagement.More
Translation is the transformation of one language into another so that the meaning of the original source is conveyed accurately and naturally. Translation delivers an understanding of your source content for international audiences.
Transcreation is the creative adaptation of your content so that your message, brand and value proposition are conveyed in a locally authentic way. While carried out in the context of your original English source material, transcreation is about translating the concept behind your messaging and may require rewriting local content to ensure that it doesn’t read like a translation. Transcreation is important for any content that doesn’t readily “translate,” particularly for marketing messaging. Some examples include advertising copy, taglines, straplines, product names and content that is heavily branded or that involves US cultural references/wordplay. Transcreation delivers engagement around your brand and messaging, with a view to driving action.
Transliteration is the phonetic translation of content from one writing system to another. For example, Chinese is represented through an array of characters, each representing a sound. Transliteration is sometimes used to represent an English word in Chinese by selecting Chinese characters that most closely sound like the English pronunciation of the word. Transliteration delivers an accessible representation of a foreign language term in the local writing system.More
Briefly, localization refers to making products, websites, apps, and communications feel local and relevant to the people of a country or region. A very clear example is in using the language of a country on your website rather than your own if they differ. There are other areas which are not as obvious if you are new to localization, such as the colors that you use, the images of the people on your site, the spelling of words (British vs. American, for instance), and even your contact information and time zone. When localization is done right, it's seamless and invisible. If it's done wrong or not at all, it can have consequences for your success in other countries or regions.More
While the primary language for both the US and the UK is English, there are differences that you'll want to consider for your website and marketing communications content. First, there are spelling differences for common words such as 'theater' and 'theatre'. Second, there are some notable differences in the words used for the same thing. Good examples of this are 'pants' vs. 'trousers' and 'French fries' vs. 'chips'. If your strategy is to proclaim your American brand, then keeping the US spellings is appropriate. On the other hand, if you want your product or service to feel local, then you will want to review your content and copy to ensure you've made the necessary updates. It never hurts to have locals help you with this process. They will be able to find not only words that differ, but phrasing and references that may not make sense to your British audience.More