As your retail business grows online, it is important to consider how you can expand and bring your products to global markets. But doing online business globally means ensuring that your website is built to serve customers across different languages and cultures.
For some businesses, the translation process for their retail website means making hard choices about what to translate and what not to. After all, budgets are lean, teams are busy, and it is important that big website translation projects don’t monopolize all available resources.
But you don’t have to settle for an awkward, partially-translated website experience for your global customers. Below are three tips that can help you translate your site efficiently and effectively while keeping budgets and resources in line.
Tip #1: Start With Business Goals
Bringing your retail site into new markets and localizing it for global customers is a great time to take stock of your ultimate goals for both the site and your growing business. Making sure your objectives are clear ensures that you can focus translation efforts on the elements that will have the biggest impact for your brand in the market.
For example, if you’re new to the region, being discovered through search might be a top priority for your business. That means seeking out expert advice on international SEO best practices that will help not only accurately translate and optimize the visible content on your site, but the metadata and critical keywords that aren’t visible to site visitors.
It might also be important for your company to build trust in markets that may not be as familiar with your brand. This can be done by updating your brand voice, messaging, and personality and seamlessly translating it into new languages while preserving the equity you’ve worked hard to build in your flagship markets.
If driving on-site conversions and transactions is your main objective, it’s important to prioritize the translation of every aspect of a customer’s purchase path on your site. That means comprehensive translation of everything from product descriptions and specifications — including those that might be served up by third-party applications — to the shopping cart and checkout experience. Don’t forget essential elements like localized units of currency, shipping information, and contact information, too.
Tip #2: Emphasize the Customer Experience
Once your global customers are spending time on your localized site, it’s critical to deliver the same caliber of customer experience that you’d serve customers in your existing markets. In today’s hyperconnected world, online shoppers expect a complete and seamless experience no matter where in the world they’re living and shopping from. Leveraging the most advanced translation technologies and methods can make this simple and easy.
From the moment customers arrive on your site, they should be greeted in the language they prefer or given easy and clear options to select their preferred language for all the content on the site. Once they’ve done so, it should be easy for you to serve localized promotions, content, and product options that are customized for that region or culture. Whether it’s a campaign for a local holiday or product selections that are only available in specific geographies, your site can serve as a tailored shopping destination that makes global customers feel welcome and valued.
You don’t have to settle for just text translation, either. Today you can translate images, video captions, downloadable media, and even interactive components that are served through on-site applications. It’s important to remember that you should always be updating new content to the same translation specifications so content is never out of sync for global guests.
Tip #3: Weigh Your Translation Options
Website translation used to be an either-or proposition.
Your first option was to spend an extraordinary amount of time and resources having humans at the helm, overseeing every stitch of content translation for your site. Accuracy and quality were often superior thanks to the high-touch approach, but costs could quickly escalate, and content changes and updates were expensive and time-consuming.
Machine translation was a cost-effective alternative, but quality suffered thanks to simplistic word choice and a lack of the context, cultural nuance, and language fluency required to bring a brand to life in a new language.
Today, hybrid translation presents a powerful new option for retailers who want to bring their sites to market efficiently but with the quality assurance of human oversight. While it makes sense for some content to use cost-effective machine translation for repeat, functional content like product descriptions and specifications, in other instances, it requires more in-depth translation services for more meaningful content — like brand-specific language, marketing messaging, or personalized content for visitors — and review of machine translations for quality and accuracy. Human translators can also adjust language for the subtle cultural nuances and dialects that only locals would recognize but that can make all the difference for brand authenticity and trust in new markets.
Great website translation is within your reach
Thanks to the advancements of both translation technologies and approaches, retailers don’t have to choose between great website translation and a global website that makes the most of budgets and team resources.
By keeping goals front and center during the process and balancing human expertise with advanced technology capabilities, modern retailers can deliver the compelling and revenue-generating sites they want to bring to global markets and the outstanding international experience that savvy online shoppers deserve.
Craig Witt is CRO at MotionPoint.