The world feels like it’s forever shrinking as technology draws people closer together from all around the globe – language and communications have therefore never been so important.
It should come as no surprise that communicating with people in their native tongue (despite worldwide increases in English proficiency) is still the best way to engage with an audience.
Research by the Common Sense Advisory found that 54.2 percent of consumers only buy from websites in their own language, while 74.7 percent are more likely to use a portal offering after-sales support in their native tongue.
These two quick facts demonstrate just how important localization is, particularly if global sales conversions play a key part in your business agenda.
Here are few key points to consider if you are considering translation and localization:
One poorly translated message is all it takes to lose customers and hurt your hard earned reputation. This is why businesses cannot afford to make mistakes. In 2009, HSBC was left to pick up the pieces when its slogan ‘Assume Nothing’ was mistranslated as ‘Do Nothing’ in various countries – perhaps not the best advice to come from a multi-national corporation! Such was the damage caused by the error; the lender had to launch a $10 million rebrand in order to reconnect with its customers. This shows how it is not just about looking foolish, as there can be severe financial repercussions to poorly executed localization.
Despite the fact that English is seen as the international language of business, overlooking local factors is rather shortsighted. While you can reach a significant audience with English only content, three-quarters of people around the world don’t speak any English at all, and others that do will simply feel more trusting of your brand if your content were available in their native tongue. Wouldn’t you? Would it also surprise you to know that Mandarin (not English) is the most spoken language in the world with over a billion fluent speakers? While it certainly isn’t necessary to localize into all of the 7,000 languages of the world, just localizing into the core languages of your customers and prospects could prove to be an incredibly prudent move financially.
E-commerce is a big deal, with the MultiLingual Magazine reporting that its economic potential rose from $36.5 trillion in 2010 to $44.6 trillion in 2012. However, figures supplied by InternetWorldStats show that only 26.8 per cent of internet users are English speakers. This means if your company is only producing information in this language, you are cutting yourself off from nearly three-quarters of the online realm. By localizing in just 12 languages, businesses can extend their reach to 80 per cent of internet users, while using 21 languages will see this figure increased to 90 per cent.
Some sectors will require localizing for legal reasons. For example, if pharmaceuticals want to launch a drug in a different country, information regarding the treatment has to be provided in the country’s native language. In this case, the requirement to produce high quality translations is absolutely essential, as it could literally be the difference between life and death. Because of this, the international medical industry is highly regulated and companies who need to translate documentation must choose agencies that comply with certain standards, such as ISO 9001 – the quality system standard.
Value for money
Best of all, localization offers remarkable value for money. An industry study showed that for every $1 invested in localization, $25 was returned. So, not only will it put your company in good standing with potential customers and allow you to present a consistent brand message, there are also financial benefits associated with high quality localization. Moreover, localization can also improve a company’s own internal structures. For example, Forbes and Rosetta Stone reported that 84 per cent of executives at international ﬁrms believe employees complete tasks more efficiently when spoken to in their native language. So as you can see, the tactic has the potential to benefit a company in a number of ways.