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April 18, 2016
It is simply impossible to ignore the effect that the internet has had on the potential growth and global reach of a business. Both online and brick-and-mortar businesses are becoming increasingly dependent on their international brand image as well as their ability to effectively communicate across international borders. The Common Sense Advisory released a report in 2014 on how translation affects the web customer experience and e-commerce growth. The results from the 3,002 consumers polled across 10 countries in their native language showed that almost three-quarters of them preferred information to be available in their mother tongue when making a purchase online. Although the English language is considered the lingua franca of the internet, the internet is becoming more localized and targeted towards the user’s linguistic and cultural preference.
As of 2014, the number of internet users worldwide stood at 2.92 billion, up from the previous year with 2.71 billion users. With the number of internet users rising on a daily basis, the 3 billion internet users’ mark will have already been passed early this year and perhaps more importantly, two-thirds of the users will be living in the developing world. In 2014, China, the United States, India, Japan and Brazil made up the top 5 countries for internet usage further demonstrating the need for localized websites to meet the target audience. When given a choice of languages more often than not, people choose to visit a website that is in their own language. Closer to home, a 2011 European Commission Gallup Study found that nearly one in five Europeans never browsed the internet in any language other than their own and 42% said that they had never purchased a product or service that was in another language. While many Europeans are in fact multilingual, these facts show that when it comes to purchasing they prefer to do it in their native language.
From the .com era, website URLs have evolved as the internet has become more localized. The country’s suffix now appears at the ends of URLs such as .ar for Argentina, .br for Brazil and .co for Colombia in Latin America as well as .uk in the United Kingdom and .es in Spain. Websites are becoming even more localized than having just the country’s URL suffix, especially in Asia where consumers will often search using their native language characters to reach international websites such as Amazon. By incorporating the ten macro-languages of English, Mandarin, Spanish, Japanese, Portuguese, German, Arabic, French, Russian and Korean, a company can reach just over 84% of the world’s internet users. However it is not just across the world that companies need to focus on translation and localization services. With more than 37 million Spanish-speakers living in the United States which is now considered the fifth largest Spanish-speaking country in the world, it is particularly important for companies based in the United States or looking to expand into that market to localize and translate their websites to meet the needs of this growing demographic.
Communicating effectively to your target or worldwide audience can only be achieved through localizing and translating your website and marketing materials. Even if English is the dominant force for your current clients or target audience, by having a multilingual website, you will be able to greatly increase your engagement with people who speak English as a second language or who do not speak English at all. In doing so, your business will be able to build trust locally and across international borders and deliver your message with greater accuracy. This is essential to the health and medical organisations where providing information quickly, accurately and efficiently is of the utmost importance. Having your website professionally translated allows visitors to feel at home and together with localizing it, ensure that the website is linguistically correct for that particular audience. Using a professional translation and localization service to help introduce your business to the world market or to target specific growth markets in Latin America, will repay your business with increased website traffic and more importantly, a higher conversion rate into sales.
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