Building a Global Ecommerce Brand in Time for the Holiday Rush

Aug 27, 2014 1:23 PM  By

Money may make the world go round, but the world likes to spend that money with businesses that speak their language. Research from Common Sense Advisory found that 56.2 percent of consumers consider in-language information more important than price when making purchasing decisions.

With the holiday sales season quickly approaching, it’s the perfect time to examine whether your company is effectively reaching its total addressable market with native, high-quality multilingual content that reflects the way your customers live, act and speak. If you aren’t, now is the time for action. And, if you think it’s impossible to “go global” before the holiday season, think again.

Why Go Global?

You can double your online selling potential by translating content from English into just five other languages, and reach 90% of the global online economic opportunity with just 13 languages. Communicating in multiple languages is table stakes for global ecommerce. If you can’t translate and localize your content efficiently, you can’t sell efficiently. Poorly constructed content – even if translated – will drive customers to competitors who communicate in a more familiar and comfortable way.

Only doing business in the U.S.? The same principles apply. There are 60 million people here whose native language is not English; 35 million of them speak Spanish. Effectively communicating to this population will lead to a much larger market share than an English-only approach.

While your online reach isn’t limited by geography, it might still be limited by language barriers. But technology has made translation and localization easier and more affordable.

Here are five tips to help you translate and localize your ecommerce website or mobile app for multilingual audiences.

Choose the Best KPIs for Your Business

Before you begin translation and localization, determine your most critical KPIs. Common ones include website traffic, downloads, users, customers, engagement, satisfaction, loyalty, market share and revenue. They should measure the value and ROI of having a multilingual website or mobile app.  For example, track the traffic volumes from a given country or region before and after your multilingual site is launched. Leveraging KPIs will help you determine the impact each time you deliver a website, mobile app or piece of content in a new language.

Develop a Global Content Strategy

The good news is you don’t have to translate everything. Take a phased approach to translation and start small by prioritizing content that matters most or is highly viewed. Remember, the content you deem “most important” will likely vary for each market, which is why localization and translation are important. Localization is more about function and less about form, ensuring an appropriate fit for your target audience.

Create a Style Guide and Glossary

Creating a style guide and glossary is imperative for obtaining high-quality translations that truly reflect your brand and image. Translators need context to deliver superior results, and a style guide and glossary are powerful tools for ensuring fast, efficient and accurate translations. Using technology to auto-prompt translators with glossary terms and style guide notes as they work will also help you minimize review cycles post-translation.

Select the Right Translation Resources

Professional, human translation is best for the vast majority of scenarios because it generates accurate, high-quality translations, leading to excellent SEO and customer satisfaction. Volunteer communities, bilingual employees and machine or computer-generated translation tools are additional options, but each comes with its own set of risks. Translations by volunteer communities and machine translation tools are often poor in quality, and adding translations to bilingual employees’ plates will pull them away from their main tasks. However, these non-standard translation options can be beneficial for high-speed, high-volume projects dealing with content that isn’t high-priority or accessed frequently.

When deciding on translation resources, consider your quality requirements, timeframe, budget and what content is being translated.

Let Technology Do the Heavy Lifting

As important as translation is, the non-linguistic aspects remain manual, inefficient, time consuming, prone to error and costly. Technology is available to automate this part of the process, eliminating the need to manage translations from spreadsheets and emails. Translation technology pairs high-quality, accurate human translations with translation process automation. With it, companies can fully translate their websites, mobile apps and other content in a fraction of the time via traditional processes without sacrificing quality.

Go Global – And Fast

Multilingual e-commerce sites and mobile apps can make a tremendous difference for your brand. It makes your brand accessible and comfortable for more people, leading to increased revenue and deeper engagement. Translation technology gives you the ability to go global faster and easier than ever before. Whether selling in one country or many, translation doesn’t have to be a barrier to growth, especially with technology does the heavy lifting. A smarter approach to translation can actually deliver gifts to your company this holiday season.

Nataly Kelly is the vice president of marketing at Smartling