It’s critical that British businesses do not communicate in English alone. In addition to the UK’s domestic language diversity, overseas customers and suppliers appreciate being spoken to in their native language. It can avoid cultural or communication barriers with employees and suppliers, and it can help customers feel like the brand values them as people. Below are five reasons why a translation service is necessary and helpful for business growth.
#1 – local, relatable content
If you want to bring your business into a new culture, you’ll need to focus on local content adaptations. This process helps all the details of a message or product appropriately fit into the local culture. Updating for local content can:
- Adjust graphics so they include the new language or represent the local demographic
- Change the layout of a message so that it works with the new language, like making sure text that reads vertically rather than horizontally is easy to read on the page
- Make sure the product or marketing fits local regulations like privacy or disclosure laws
- Avoid cultural insensitivity in messaging
- Change small details so the product or message looks natural, like currency symbols or address formats
#2 – social media outreach
Social media is a major way to reach new customers and grow your business. Some companies even use it to communicate with employees and businesses partners. Below are some tips for making sure you address customers or business partners in their native language and culture on social media.
- Look into what the popular social media platforms are in the region or language you are looking to communicate in. As an example, China uses Renren rather than Facebook
- Familiarize yourself with how to post on each platform. Instagram is more photo-heavy, while Twitter tends to make use of shorter posts. Facebook can absorb slightly longer posts
- Keep in mind that translating social media posts will be an ongoing need. Facebook accounts that have over 10,000 followers had the most clicks per post when they posted 31-60 times per month. The steadiest clicks per post for all types of accounts were for those that posted one to five times per month. This is a regular expense, so make sure to put costs for this in your marketing budget
- Social media posts have to be professionally translated. Social media is very casual, so it has to reach people in a way that is both native and natural. Bad translations could offend local cultures or sound stilted. Many social media users unfollow brands because they feel the posts are offensive or inappropriate
#3 – Website SEO and translation service
SEO entails optimising a website so that search engines recognize it. International SEO is optimising a website in a way that lets search engines know which countries you’re targeting or the languages you are using. As complex as that sounds, it’s actually just a question of following certain processes. To get a website to rank in a foreign region you would:
- Use a URL structure that fits the conventions of the area you are targeting. This is the foreign version of how a UK site tends to have co.uk at the end of its website addresses
- Add language tags in the HTML coding to tell search engines the language(s) you are using
- And, of course, translate the website content into the new language
There are other approaches that you can use. You can host your website on a local IP in the new region. You could build links from regional resources on your website. You can even find which search engines are more common in the new region and target those, since not everywhere uses Google.
#4 – Make e-commerce easier to navigate
Forty per cent of consumers will not buy from websites that in other languages, so a translation service is necessary if you want to reach customers who speak another language, whether domestically or abroad.
E-commerce pages also need to take account of local conventions. While updating an e-commerce page, you may need to address some of the elements of how the website is designed. On top of translating the text, you may need to tweak the layout of the website so that it is easy to read in the new language. You may also have to update various formatting details, such as currency symbols on product pages and checkout carts or address and phone number formats on contact pages. Finally, you might need to change graphics to fit local conventions, like capturing local landmarks in photos or replacing images with ones featuring models who represent local demographics.
Updating to local content can also make sure an e-commerce site fits local regulations, like cookie notifications or privacy policies. Also, it makes sure the product or messaging can fit with the local culture in a way that is easy to understand and non-offensive. To these ends, the process might involve you rewriting things to avoid certain references or avoid phrases that do not have a literal translation in the language the message is translated into.
#5 – targeted email marketing campaigns
You can easily manage e-mail marketing through services like Constant Contact, iContact, HubSpot or MailChimp. But you still need to have your emails translated by a professional service so that they read well in the new language.
A translation service can take a look at an email campaign in a way a machine can’t. A human translator can:
- Make sure the tone of the email stays the same from language to language
- Lay out the email so that it works in any language
- Remove or change anything that might be culturally offensive
- Tailor an email to fit certain use habits, which may change from region to region
Marketing also tends to use a lot of figurative language, which needs a high level of cultural understanding to translate. Machines often miss this.
If an email looks unprofessional in any way, the recipient is likely to delete it as possible spam. You can increase the chance of reaching more customers or even business partners by making sure your emails look professional in any language.
Ofer Tirosh is CEO of translation service Tomedes