Five key steps to localise your website and leapfrog the competition
It’s travel focus week on Bdaily. Here, Cassandra Oliver of Web-Translations explains how localisation can power your export drive to new heights and outpace those rivals who are failing to communicate internationally.
Online customers are four times more likely to buy from a website in their own language, meaning that companies in the travel and tourism sector who have multilingual websites can soon reap the rewards.
While the internet is a boon to international trade, many companies in English-speaking countries are missing opportunities to successfully reach and penetrate overseas markets.
Localising websites entails adapting products and materials for a particular market and includes - but is not limited to - translating text into the markets’ relevant languages.
A fully localised website shows appreciation and respect towards a foreign culture and conveys that you are interested in potential customers in that target market. It likewise takes into account conventions and preferences specific to each country such as currencies, measurements and cultural differences.
The benefits of localisation are enormous and include gaining credibility in the overseas markets you most want to succeed in, increasing market share and muscling out the competition. It also ensures you can be found in the most popular search engines in each of your target markets.
With English accounting for less than 27% of website content, an English-only website misses out on targeting more than 73% of global internet users – the potential for growing your business through localisation is therefore enormous.
In the travel and tourism sector, Japanese, Simplified Chinese, Russian, German and French are most in demand.
Air Mauritius introduced two flights to Shanghai per week in early 2013 and identified an opportunity to add an additional route from China to the island of Mauritius. The website front end and booking engine were localised into Simplified Chinese to provide customers with an excellent user experience in their native language. The Air Mauritius Kestrelflyer frequent flyer programme was also localised as a second phase to the project.
This resulted in the inaugural flight from Beijing to Mauritius taking place on July 8th, and it is anticipated that this route will become as popular as the airline’s existing Shanghai and Hong Kong flights.
Luxury hotel and resort providers are also reporting significant results for Search Engine Results Positions (SERPs). Using Chinese keywords, Lux Resorts achieved top five SERPs for its Reunion Island accommodation, resulting in an uplift of new business for the wedding and honeymoon market.
Another prestigious global hotel group achieved top five search engine results positions for French keywords, boosting sales on their five star hotel accommodation in Paris.
Communicating with customers in multiple languages brings both short and long term ‘wins’. In addition to the immediate boost to sales, a multilingual website is excellent for testing new markets and opening new doors to international trade that can sustain business growth in the long run.
The top 5 languages for the e-Commerce sector are French, German, Italian, Spanish and for some clients Portuguese, to appeal to Brazilian as well as Portuguese customers.
Key tips and tactics to achieve success
- Localise your website – welcoming international visitors to your website with multilingual content will create a great impression and build trust in your target markets.
- Always use a professional translation service – don’t be tempted to use a free machine translation for translating marketing copy, which needs to be carefully crafted to stimulate interest and sell to readers – this is not what machine translation tools are intended for and the results could be catastrophic!
- Focus on core products and services – launching a selection of your bestselling products or services increases your chances of success in a new market.
- Conduct multilingual keyword research – identifying what customers are actually searching for online then adapting your website and advertising accordingly is critical to ensuring your site is the one they browse and then buy from.
- Measure results – As you would with your UK site. Visitor statistics are invaluable in evaluating your return on investment and deciding where to concentrate further resources.