In today’s global business world, websites are often the first point of contact between businesses and their potential customers, which makes them crucial in many industries. For international e-commerce companies, websites have an additional value as they can completely replace the traditional shopping channels.
Every time a company enters a new market, it needs to secure its online exposure, so that more people can find it. At the core of a strong online presence is the local language. However, simply translating your original website into a new language will not automatically guarantee a high ranking in search appearance nor does it mean that you will instantly gain a wide audience in the new market. So, let’s see how localized content can help you gain more customers.
Translation vs. Localisation vs. Transcreation
There are different levels of content adaptation for local markets and you might have already heard about translation, localization, and transcreation in this context. These terms are also used to describe related processes and services.
Translation is the oldest and most common term that refers to changing i.e. translating the text from one language into another. Although it might sound quite easy, there is an entire process behind the scenes. Many people assume that anyone who speaks more than one language is qualified enough to produce good and accurate translations, but that is not the case. Only a trained professional with an excellent or near-native language command, who also has an eye for detail and great writing skills, will be able to produce fully accurate translations of your website.
Localization is a more complex process than only translating the text into another language. To localize the content means to additionally adapt not only the text but also other elements of the website. The goal of localization is to produce the target or local content that is perceived as if it had been created only for that market. Localization accommodates not only the language, but also the cultural, social, religious, legal, or other aspects of the target market. Besides the localization of the text, more changes might need to be done, such as changing the website design and graphics, adapting the content itself to target the right audience, using the local formats for addresses, phone numbers, units of measurement, currencies, etc.
Transcreation goes one step further and recreates the message keeping its original context, intention and emotional appeal. The process of transcreation entails broad creative freedom to make significant changes to the original and usually involves different teams, e.g. marketing, design, communications, legal, etc. Localization and transcreation professionals have great knowledge of intercultural differences and will be able to guide you throughout the process.
Which process will help you gain more visitors?
The answer to this question is – all of them. It is important to remember that translation, localization, and transcreation do not exclude each other but are rather intertwined. Websites can be very complex and contain different types of content, that will need to be treated in different ways.
Let’s see it on a simple example. Imagine owning a clothing store in the US. If your business is selling products over the internet, you will most likely have an e-commerce website that allows your visitors to browse, sort, filter and order products. Now, you would like to expand your business and start selling your products in Europe and as part of your expansion strategy, you want to localize your website for each new market.
Since there are different types of content on your website, the ideal solution would be to apply different strategies for each content type. For example, product descriptions are one of the crucial elements on an e-commerce website, because they can attract new customers from search engines like Google or Bing, and you want to make sure that they are translated correctly. Apart from the accuracy, you should also check the newest trends in local markets and if needed apply a certain level of localization.
If we look at the clothing sizes, we will see that the usual sizes in the US are different from those in Europe. Furthermore, the sizes differ from one European country to another. What is size 10 for women’s clothing in the US, will usually be the size 12 in the UK, 40 in France, Spain and Portugal, 44 in Italy and 38 in Germany and Scandinavia. In this case, you want to localize the clothing size charts, to avoid the confusion and provide the local option that your customers are familiar with, or otherwise, you might end up with an increased number of returned orders because of incorrect sizes.
In marketing and advertising, it is essential that the translation feels like it was written for the specific market. There is even a saying that the best translation is the one that can’t be noticed. As part of your marketing strategy, some sections of your website will contain advertising material, such as the introduction of new collections, TV-ads, style blogs, runway videos, interviews with designers and stylists, special offers, or similar. The options are infinite. Considering that trends can vary from one country to another, this content will sometimes need to be created from the beginning or transcreated.
The successful content needs to appeal to the customer at the right moment. Let’s say that you are placing the new winter collection across your stores and are looking for an effective way to launch the campaign at the same time in several markets. The first question would be whether the same products should be offered and advertised in all markets. For instance, while in the Nordic countries it might be quite important to offer the whole range of extreme cold-weather clothing and gear, that might not be the case in some Mediterranean countries with mild or warm winters. The concept of winter clothing in these regions is not the same, so your strategy will need to be adjusted to appeal to the right audience.
As you can see, there are lots of factors that should be taken into consideration when deciding the best strategy for content localization. Another important factor is SEO (Search Engine Optimization) which can determine your website’s appearance in search engine results, such as Google, Bing or others. Using the correct keywords can make a real difference in where your website appears and how easy your potential customers can find it, and in the long term, this can lead to higher conversion rates. In the next post, we will explore the importance of localized content in a successful SEO strategy, but until then, remember, if your content is available in the local language the chances that your products are found on the internet are much higher.