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3 questions you need to be asking when translating your website

3 questions you need to be asking when translating your website [Photo: oaltindag/iStock]
in Retail and Ecommerce

No matter the sector, whether it's ecommerce, travel or services, a growing number of brands across the world are now looking to expand away from their own countries and into new markets, either emerging or developed. The rise of the internet has made it easier than ever before for companies to remotely move themselves into a new market without the need to relocate, and as a result, many are doing just this. In fact, most companies see global expansion as the future of business.

According to a survey released by Wells Fargo, as many as 87 per cent of all companies in the US believe that moving into new markets on a global scale represents the biggest opportunities for brands to grow. In addition to this, 69 per cent said that emerging markets are the key to this growth in the years to come. 

And it would appear that even small businesses are starting to get in the mood for moving overseas and reaching new audiences. According to a separate study by USForex, more than half of all small businesses (58 per cent) already have international customers. On top of this, some 72 per cent said they want to expand further into international markets by the end of this year, and 96 per cent are confident in their ability to do so without too much difficulty. 

However, while the internet has made it easier than ever for companies to take themselves into new markets and hit new target audiences with their products and services, it's still not that easy to do so successfully. Translation is a big part of the process, and even to employ this tool correctly, there are various questions that need to be asked to establish the right strategy and ensure translation of websites is done in the most efficient manner possible.  

Here, we take a look at just a few of the questions your small company should be asking when it comes time to translating your website for international audiences during global expansion. Once you know the answers, you can get started on translating your site and all its content.

Who are the target audience?

Without knowing your online target audience, it's impossible to successfully expand your brand on a global scale. Remember, the internet is used in all four corners of the world now, which makes it impossible to appeal to everyone. German, Chinese, Korean, Spanish, French, English and Arabic are just a few of the most commonly spoken languages online, according to Internet World Stats, and it's impossible for smaller companies to appeal to all of these markets at once. 

For this reason, in the initial stages of the process, it's a good idea to try to identify where you might have the most success. Where are your existing international customers most commonly based? What languages are most commonly associated with your products and services, and where are you most likely to be able to appeal to people through translating your current website. 

Identifying a target audience also allows you to work out not just the target language, but the strategy for translating a website to meet their needs and give them what they want to make a purchase or get in contact with you. 

Do you know how they convert?

It's about more than just language in the world of globalisation. You need to make sure that your website, after translation, still allows people to convert, whether that's signing up for a newsletter, buying a product or filling in a survey. So to do this, you need to know how people typically convert. 

For example, in some areas of the Far East, people will tend towards browsing websites on their mobile phones before converting on a desktop, so do you need to provide two versions of your company's website for these users? In other nations, 90 per cent plus of all shopping is carried out on mobile devices, so is it worth making sure that conversion buttons are mobile friendly before you launch the new site?

In terms of conversion, it's also important to know how people engage. Are they happy sharing their info via a Facebook login? Do they want to input their details manually? Or do they interact better with button clicks and icons as opposed to words? Once you know all of this, you are far better positioned to build a website that will appeal to your target audience in a new language. 

Will the strategy be ongoing?

How do you plan to interact with your customers after the original conversion? This is something that's easy to forget but very important to remember. After someone makes a purchase or signs up to your website, it's important that they are not just then forgotten. International expansion will rely on repeat custom and brand loyalty from those you have had dealings with. 

For this reason, you need to know how you will keep in touch with people after the sale point. For example, will you ask them to like you on Facebook and contact them through there, will you add a Twitter link to your profile, or do you intend to include email marketing to your post-custom strategy? Remember, any of these you choose to do will also need to be translated, and that means putting in place an ongoing strategy that will need to be planned out as well. 

Going overseas and expanding globally with your company is a big step for anyone to take. However, in the age of the internet, it's become easier than ever for smaller businesses to make this leap. Translation is a big part of the move, allowing you to talk to your customers in their own language to increase your chances of success. However, to make the most of expert translation, it's important you always ask yourself the right questions to kick off your plans to move into new markets.

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