9 Key Factors To Localize Your Website For International Markets
Localizing your website is a crucial step when you want to reach more audiences globally, as just 25% of internet users speak English as their first language, and up to 65% prefer content in their language, even if it is poor quality.
To localize your website effectively for international markets, there are many factors you have to put into consideration. The main factors will be revealed in this post.
#1. Content Creation
When it comes to localizing your website, it’s not a one-size-fits-all approach. You need to carefully consider how you localize your content to effectively communicate your brand’s values.
Relationship-building content primarily consists of editorial, blog content, and marketing emails. With this type of content, you have to ensure consistency in your way of storytelling and tone of voice in all documents. In addition, you should adapt your marketing messages, even your brand, to meet the unique cultural expectations of your target market.
For example, Intel changed its slogan ‘Intel: Sponsors of Tomorrow’ to “Intel: Apaixonados Pelo Futuro” (“Intel: In love with the future”) for the Brazilian market, as research revealed that the Portuguese translation of “sponsor of tomorrow” implied that the Silicon Valley tech company would not immediately fulfill its promise.
Transactional content, including checkout pages, categories, products, and even paid search ads, needs a different approach. It is necessary to localize product descriptions and category pages based on different terms used for particular products in each market.
The goal of localized transactional content ultimately is to make it easier for customers to make purchases, minimize returns, and optimize it for local search engines so that it may be quickly found by customers looking for relevant content in their native tongue.
#2. International SEO
To drive traffic to your website and increase sales in your target market, you will need to perform an effective multilingual SEO strategy.
Similar to localizing your website, your international search strategy must take into account the linguistic and technical requirements necessary to show the right pages of your website in search engine results in pages to the appropriate users in the relevant market. It’s also important to invest in link building as an SEO strategy through free link building tools and techniques.
You need to first make sure that your domain name fits the market, especially if your brand name is included in the domain name.
When P&G introduced Vicks in Germany, this multinational consumer goods company found that Germans pronounce the “v” sound as a “f”, turning Vicks into a German slang term for sexual intercourse. That is definitely not the best way to make a start in a new market. Since then, Vicks has rebranded itself to the much more family-friendly Wick in Germany.
And then, there is the structure of the domain and URL. If you’re taking a market-targeted strategy, having a Country Code Top Level Domain (ccTLD) may benefit your business. Search engines are informed by domains like yourbrand.de and yourbrand.fr that these sites should be served to users in Germany and France, respectively.
It is worth noting that ccTLDs are separate websites. They must thus be set up and maintained independently from your domestic website, which takes time and resources. In order to assure the efficiency of optimization, ccTLDs will also need extra resources for PR, link building, and content marketing for each domain in its specific market.
On the other hand, subdirectories (or subfolders) sit on your existing domain and let you target multiple languages and markets with one website. For example, if you are targeting Latin American users in the US, users will be sent to the URL yourbrand.com/es-us/ rather than yourbrand.com/en-us/.
There are subdomains or third-level domains, such as de.yourbrand.com, where localized content can be hosted on servers in the target market and is located on a separate subdomain. This dramatically reduces page load times, which can have a positive impact on both SEO and user experience.
It’s crucial to take into account which domain and URL structure work best for your business, considering the amount of time and resources you have to manage content on your localized site in the long term.
When it comes to content like product descriptions and blog posts, make sure to use localized keywords and provide content that is specific to the preferences and behavior of your audience. Machine translation tools like Google Translate do not work well in this case, as they can not consider the cultural relevance of your target market or give the most popular keywords in the target language. Working with a reputable language service provider who has native linguists will help you to easily offer localized websites to users in your target market, under the appliance of SEO techniques, such as link building for SaaS and content creation.
#3. Cultural Sensitivity
Cultural sensitivity is the awareness of cultural aspects that may affect how you run your business, promote your brand to customers, and even how you build friendships.
This task involves more than just slang terms or idioms. To create culturally sensitive content, you have to adjust many things, from completely changing your marketing strategy to tailoring your content to the market’s cultural demands.
For example, to celebrate the Chinese New Year, US sportswear company Nike, produced an entire collection for its Chinese consumers. This company also launched a family-focused marketing campaign on its website that depicted a more wholesome view of the Chinese holiday.
Nike adopted a more family-focused approach for its Chinese New Year 2021 marketing campaign
Another example is from Apple, the US tech giant that has always faced fierce competition in the Chinese market, where there exist local competitors like Huawei. Instead of using Western-centred ads in this market, Apple has spent years honing its marketing strategies to create advertisements that accurately reflect modern China, leading to its success with more than 20% of the smartphone market.
Getting cultural sensitivity right is crucial to building the foundation to foster loyalty with local customers. Furthermore, it helps avoid potential marketing campaign errors and even negative responses from customers that no business expects.
#4. Pricing, Currency & Payment Methods
Whether you’re a premium brand or a boutique business, you should display prices in local currencies and offer local payment options to succeed on a global scale.
You should provide cross-border customers with the appropriate landed costs relevant to their market including shipping, duty, and taxes. Failure to communicate these additional costs can cause a friction-filled customer experience, ultimately leading to a high returns rate and negatively impacting your bottom line.
For example, if a pair of shoes costs €50 and you want to add tax (€5) and duties (€3), you should show the total price of €58 for the user to grab the information. In some areas, it could be required by law to display additional fees in addition to the product price. Therefore, it is vital to ensure that you conduct market research to know local laws and best practices.
Additionally, you should always round off pricing that fits the market and display prices in the local currency. Harvard Business School claims that when we read from left to right, we tend to concentrate on the first number we encounter. We have gradually trained ourselves to think we are getting a great deal even if we are just saving a penny. For example, in the UK, the standard way to price an item should be £9.99 rather than £10. Meanwhile, in the U.S., you would likely see the price as £9.95.
To minimize any friction throughout the checkout process, you should also consider selecting the right payment option for each market. If Visa, Mastercard, and American Express may be the most common payment methods in the West, cash on delivery (COD) is the preferred method for online shoppers in emerging markets like the Middle East, Africa, and India. On the other hand, WeChat (as part of Tencent’s TenPay) and Alipay have dominated China’s mobile payment market.
By enhancing payment options so that customers can buy products using WeChat Pay and Alipay, brands like ASOS and Burberry have made big leaps in the Chinese market. Zara even goes the extra mile by providing a cash-on-delivery option in this market.
#5. Times & Dates
To prevent any misunderstanding or confusion, it is strongly advised that dates and times be displayed in the preferred local format. One of the most noticeable examples is the difference between the date formats used in the U.S. and the UK.
If you are delivering an order to one of your eCommerce customers on 11/8/21, a UK user would anticipate the delivery on 11th August 2021, whereas a US user would expect to receive it on 8th November 2021. Meanwhile, in Japan, the date is written in year/month/day format. If we utilized the aforementioned delivery date, Japanese consumers would anticipate their delivery to arrive on 21st August 2011.
Therefore, make sure to localize dates on your website for each market to avoid any confusion
#6. Numeric Formats, Weights & Measurements
The numeric formats are also displayed in different ways depending on the nation, area, or culture. Although many countries use the Hindu-Arabic numeral system to represent numbers, many other cultures have their own systems with different characters.
For example, the U.S. and the UK both use commas to signify a thousand. (1,000). However, in Germany and France, they use a full stop (1.000). Similarly, while France and Germany use a comma to separate decimals (1,000.50 vs. 1.000,50), the U.S. and the UK use a full stop.
Another example is digit grouping. If the three-digit group (1,000,000) is widely used in Western cultures, Hindi uses two-digit grouping for all numbers except for hundreds, using three-digit grouping (10,00,000).
Regarding weights and measurements, although most countries in the world have adopted the International System of Units, or simply the metric system, there are still countries that haven’t. Although the U.S. continues to use imperial units, other countries like Liberia and Myanmar have not yet formally switched over to the metric system.
Hence, ensure to use of the correct weight and measurement systems for each market. Where applicable, convert to local formats while taking into consideration local abbreviations; for example, Russia uses the Cyrillic letters кг for kg. Despite small details, all of them will help improve user experience.
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#7. Telephone Formats & Address
You could notice that different countries and languages have different ways of displaying addresses and phone numbers, as you can see on the customer service page or footer of a commercial website in another location. In addition to varying address formats, it’s important to consider that phone systems also differ across countries, influencing the structure of phone numbers as displayed on the customer service page or footer of a commercial website in another location.
Let’s take North America as an example. Although the USA, Canada, and Mexico have country code 1 for phone numbers, the format of phone numbers is written differently based on location.
English speakers in the U.S. and Canada use the international +1302 1234567 or (302) 1234567. However, in Quebec, a Canadian province where French is the official language, writing phone numbers with spaces before a hyphen for the last sequence is considered to be the proper format (1 NPA NXX-XXXX).
When it comes to addresses, the difficulties with localization are the same. Obviously, there are differences in terminology, like Zip Code vs. Postcode, but physical addresses in different countries have significantly diverse formats and structures.
For example, in French, you would put the company name on line one, the street address on line two, the postal code followed by the city name on line three, and the country on line four. However, in Italy, the door number is often written after the street name on the second line, and the postcode, town, and two-letter provincial abbreviation are written in that order on the third line.
#8. Abbreviations & Acronyms
When publishing content for audiences throughout the world, it is a common practice to avoid abbreviations and acronyms because not many people can fully understand them. However, in some industries, it is an unavoidable practice.
Here are a few examples:
- Electronic Clinical Outcome Assessments (eCOA) use smartphones, tablets, and computers to enable patients, clinicians, and their caregivers to directly report results
- Some companies sell Interactive Response Technology (IRT) for Clinical Trials (CT)
- A Contract Research Organisation (CRO) is an organization that offers third-party research support on a contract basis to the pharmaceutical, biotechnology, and medical
Some large organizations frequently have their own translated abbreviations. NATO is a well-known example, which can be translated into OTAN for Spanish audiences. Similarly, the Spanish equivalent of the term AIDS is SIDA.
However, it’s best to always spell out acronyms or abbreviations that are connected to your company’s products or services if there are no recognized local equivalents. This can help translators determine the right translation for your market.
#9. Localize Your Website: Localized Customer Service
Your customers need to be reassured that you’ll be there for support, especially when they buy goods or services from you online. If that help is provided in their native tongue, you have a higher chance of meeting their expectations more quickly and increasing their trust in your brand.
According to Common Sense Advisory, 74% of customers are more likely to make a purchase from a company that provides customer service support in their language. Furthermore, a survey from ICMI found that over 70% of customer service managers agreed that giving customers help in their mother language boosted customer satisfaction. Also, 58.4% claimed it strengthened their brand loyalty.
A key part of your localization strategy should be to localize your customer support approach through multilingual phone, email, and live chat.
Leading online retailer ASOS offers customer service to its foreign customers in Spanish, German, Italian, and French through phone (with local telephone numbers), email, and live chat. Thanks to its comprehensive approach to multilingual customer support, its European customers may feel comfortable knowing they have a number of options to contact the UK-based business to talk to someone in their own language.
Additionally, you’ll need to pay close attention to issues arising after purchases, such as returns and refunds. Cross-border customers are fully aware that this could take a little longer than local competitors, but minimizing friction in this process will be essential to raising customer satisfaction.
While some multinational brands, such as H&M and Zara, can provide free returns through a local store, smaller brands should collaborate with logistics partners that have a strong local infrastructure to provide their foreign clients with fast, reliable, and cost-effective delivery and returns service.
Localize Your Website Professionally with Us
Entering the worldwide market may be incredibly challenging for businesses. Effectively reaching customers in international marketplaces takes not just time and money but also a thorough cultural understanding of each market. This task will be done more easily and professionally if you partner with a trustworthy website localization services provider that has specialized platforms, tools, and website localization experts.
At GTE Localize, we take all of the 9 above-mentioned elements into account to help our clients get a much better chance of success in global expansion. In addition, when partnering with us, our clients are given the following exceptional value:
- Insured quality: As a member of the Globalization and Localization Association (GALA), we pledge to deliver high-quality website localization services for all sizes of businesses. We further offer clients a lifetime warranty to consolidate our commitment.
- A cost-effective website translation solution: Besides high-quality website translation services, we also update the latest technologies to smooth out our workflow while lowering expenses for our business clients.
- No hidden fee: There is no cost incurred after we have signed an agreement.
- All file formats & platforms supported: We can localize all types of website platforms such as Magento, Shopify, WordPress, etc., and all types of file formats such as HTML, PHP, etc.
We are here to help you localize your website for specific markets. Contact our experts right now for a free consultancy or a free 300-word test!
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