Firstly, let me congratulate you. You’ve spotted an opportunity, a hidden strategy which promises to deliver additional revenue streams and build your brand overseas. In short, you’re thinking about making your website multilingual.
The benefits of hosting and maintaining a multilingual website are simply overwhelming and people across the globe are beginning to realise this. Within months you can effectively target new markets and sell your products and services to a much amplified audience who may just be discovering your brand for the first time.
Creating a multilingual web strategy is by no means an easy task, there are multiple factors to consider and targeting an unsuitable market can often lead to inefficiencies and internal resources being spread ‘too thin’.
You have invested in the website, international traffic is up and the enquiries are flooding in. But how do you process them? The reality is that if your multilingual website proves to be a success, then you should be receiving more web enquiries through lead generation forms and emails from foreign customers.
The next step of the planning process is to map out how these enquiries can be acted on and how your business will reach out to these customers. Research shows that 83% of consumers require some degree of customer support while making an online purchase (source: eConsultancy), so it’s likely that you’ll need to implement some multilingual customer service. If you have bilingual employees within the business or have offices abroad, these may be the logical starting point.
Another key consideration is whether you can market your products effectively in your chosen international regions. If you have invested in making your website multilingual, shouldn’t your marketing efforts be tailored around driving more international traffic to your new pages? This is where multilingual SEO comes in – it’s all well and good having websites in multiple languages, but how will your customers find you? Don’t forget about social media too – many large international brands have several Twitter profiles tailored to their different markets.
The decision to target a new global audience is much more complex than simply pinpointing which countries have an adequate demand and large base of potential customers. It’s very much a business decision, which has to consider cultural buying habits, the competitor landscape and how the countries market is likely to develop over the next few years.
Therefore market research is critical to picking the right international market. If you are purely operating an online ecommerce business rather than physical shops and factories, then certain factors will be more important than others. It’s also important to take into account local buying customs, and finding out the preferred method of payment in your market. Involve multiple stakeholders from within your business (preferably with different backgrounds) and spend a few weeks researching your potential markets.
Search engine Google announced recently that websites adapted for mobile and tablet usage would be placed higher up the search rankings. This comes as no surprise – the smartphone has overtaken the desktop/laptop as the device of choice when connecting to the internet (source: Ofcom) and tablets aren’t far behind. If you’ve got an app for your company, you should consider localising this too – especially for East Asian markets where app downloads significantly increase when available in native languages.
Constantly adding new content to your website will not only make your website engaging to your audience but it will also help with search engine rankings. Writing copy in local languages results in the purest form of localisation and text that is tailored perfectly to your local market – this is ideal for blogs, product listings, and marketing content.