Your newly translated website is the bedrock of your international expansion plans. But what message does it give to your target audience? Can they tell that it has been translated, and does it inspire the same level of trust as your local competitors?
It’s not just the words you use. Some images work well in some countries but not in others, for example, and customers in different countries want different payment options. These are things only a local will know.
Translation vs localisation
Translation involves ensuring the meaning of a source text is rendered in another language to achieve maximum equivalency. A successful translation is one where the reader cannot identify the content is a translation; this means correct idiomatic expressions, or register, should be used as well as accurate spelling and grammar. One where the site has been not just translated, but localised.
Whilst translation refers to text only considerations there is so much more to making a consumer feel as if the content is not translated and as if it was written by a mother tongue speaker, thereby ensuring a greater level of relevance and trust, which in terms of products and services is the ultimate goal to ensure target consumers identify with your brand.
A picture is worth a thousand words. A lot of care should be taken when selecting images for your target markets. Images can be interpreted in many different ways and it is a mistake to assume that a highly effective and relevant image in one country will have the same impact in another.
For example, in the US, a typical business photo might include suited men punching the air with their fist in victory whereas in France this would be wholly inappropriate and misunderstood.
Here is a US landing page:
In France, where it would be inappropriate to “celebrate” in the office, the landing page looks like this:
Pictures that are clearly US-centric may not work in more reserved European markets and could damage your credibility, so careful consideration should be paid to selecting culturally appropriate media.
It is important to have a plan for what will happen once the website is up and running and you start to build up your customer base in your new targeted markets. It would be a shame after all the effort that went into building the site for potential customers to be put off by not being able to interact effectively with your company. In this case, it is important to think about which channels you will use to communicate. Relevant social media should be in place from the start and you should have a strategy for inbound and outbound communications in different languages. Users in different countries do not necessarily use the same social media channels. In China, for example, the average user cannot access Facebook and Twitter easily and instead use Renren or Weibo.
Payment methods are also local. Consumers across different markets will not necessarily trust and want to interact with payment methods that work well in the UK market. If a customer cannot pay in the way they want to pay this will signal to the customer that the business is not fully aware of their market, leading them to potentially navigate away from the site.
In Japan, for example, it is quite usual for a deferred payment option via convenience stores (e.g. 7Eleven or banks or post offices) to be used. In Germany, they are much more reluctant to use debit or credit cards as payment methods, and instead prefer other methods such as Klarna. This method is used by ASOS in Germany where consumers are only charged for their goods after delivery.
ASOS’ UK Homepage
ASOS’ German Homepage
Calls To Action
How effective a call to action is can differ across markets. In the UK we are used to seeing strong CTAs such as Buy Now!, wheras other markets respond better to more subtle CTAs. For example in France, “Commandez ici !” is very effective as a CTA, however, the translation is actually “order here” and not “buy now” which achieves the same but is a much softer approach. Being aware of the need to localise your CTAs is a key consideration when looking to succeed in overseas markets.
How we can help
Translation Laboratory specialises in working with companies wanting to launch market-ready localised websites that have been optimised for ecommerce and lead generation from day one.
Please contact us if you would like a confidential discussion on how we can help you achieve your global expansion plans.