For many years, English has been the predominate language of web content. English speaking viewers made up the majority of the browsing audience, and there was never any need for businesses to extend beyond their native language clientele.
In recent years, however, online trends are shifting to a more diverse global audience. As the internet reaches more and more users overseas and technology costs continue to decline, more varied language users are not only browsing the web, but contributing to it as well.
As an e-commerce business owner, you may be asking, “What effect does this trend have on my business? Can’t I just target English language users?”
The short answer to this is no.
If your goal is to be able to maintain a sustainable and successful business, you must be able to adapt to the internet market trends. Your competitors undoubtedly will adjust their marketing to include a multilingual approach to cater to a broader audience. By doing so, they will be tapping into a significantly larger resource, allowing them to grow as a business and eclipse their competition.
With millions of options online, brand recognition goes a long way in determining which businesses succeed and which ones don’t. Search engine optimization weighs heavily on the number of visitors to a site, and by not catering to other languages, you could end up being buried in the search results while your competition flourishes near the top.
In order to at least stay on the same playing field, you should adapt a globalized, multilingual strategy. While free machine translation tools seem like the most cost-effective solution, in the long run they can hurt your business. Machine translators are inaccurate at best, and showcasing a grammatically incorrect and error-filled website to your foreign customers will only serve to give the impression that your company is unprofessional or even worse, not legitimate.
Although hiring a professional translation company to translate your website content does cost money, it is the only sure-fire way to put your best foot forward in a new market. Translation is an investment. You tend to get what you pay for in terms of quality, but in the long run, it will only serve to benefit your business.
The included info-graphic by Translation Cloud, a professional translation company shows how these emerging trends are affecting businesses on the web and the results they have on the translation community.
Guest author Matt Bramowicz grew up in New Jersey and attended Dickinson College in Pennsylvania, where he received a degree in English and minored in Fine Arts. He now works as the head of PR/Marketing and as a graphic designer for Translation Services USA, a startup translation and technology company located in New York City.