A badly realised or culturally insensitive translation or website localisation can do more harm than good to an expanding business. In this article, we will cover some of the most damaging mistakes a brand can make when positioning their products or services to a new market overseas, and how to avoid them impacting your organisation’s growth opportunities.
We will also outline some of the most crucial elements your business needs to perfect if you’re going to get your website localisation strategy right. Read on to learn how to localise your eCommerce website to capitalise on new markets.
Don’t translate your website simply for the sake of it!
We would recommend that businesses avoid translating websites for the sake of it during the build process, especially if opting to auto-translate it. Without creating an omnichannel marketing campaign to support the launch of your website in a new territory, it is unlikely that the project will see an ROI.
Quality will always win over quantity. Partnering with a translations agency with expertise in the eCommerce sector will ensure your website wording is not only translated accurately and quickly into your target markets but your marketing or development should ensure that full localisation is taken into account, including website design (functionality), imagery and branding.
Don’t overlook elements of your website for translation
One of the quickest ways to limit the effectiveness of a translated website is to cut corners by only translating certain sections of a website. One of the most basic methods of translation is to convert the prices for products and services into the market currency while leaving the remainder of the content untranslated.
While this might have limited success in a country where your website’s language is widely spoken, it’s never safe to assume that visitors will feel comfortable shopping in another language.
- 65% of internet users speak a native language other than English
- Website visitors are three times more likely to make a purchase from a website in their own language
- Users browse websites for twice as long when they are in their native language
Partial translations can be damaging too. For example, you will often see brands translate only the content on their product pages, leaving English elsewhere. For instance, header navigation bars will sometimes lazily be left in English, offering a poor user experience to a visitor who can’t find what they need.
Don’t forget about design!
When planning a website localisation, the copy is not the be-all and end-all. A successful site localisation will take into consideration various elements of website design, from text size, font, imagery, colour use and cultural signifiers. Design is also how a website works – so you may have to consider category and taxonomy changes to your products depending on how the market shops for your products.
Don’t leave the design as an afterthought!
The best practices vary widely between different countries and cultures. At the very least, it is beneficial to include images of people that your target market can identify with on your website.
You might run a fashion brand, for example. Well, wouldn’t it make sense to have photographs of local models wearing your clothes, to inspire the local population? While this might seem like a common-sense move, you would be surprised to learn how often these small details are overlooked. Gilt Group made this mistake when localising their website to China, failing to localise their imagery and their copy. The only thing localised was the currency the user can opt to shop in when selecting items in their shopping cart.
Partial translation Primark case study
As you can see below, it looks like Primark only partially translated the copy for the Italian version of their website.
But when we consider these choices in more detail, you’ll see that the decisions that have been made haven’t necessarily been done so to cut corners!
For certain markets, it may be perfectly acceptable to use English expressions in marketing literature if the audience would understand them. Freedom Fashion in this case on the left is a selection of products to enhance your post-lockdown look and, in many markets, where English is widely spoken, such as The Netherlands, Germany and the Nordics, this would resonate with the audience in a way the marketers intended.
But would this be the case in Italy? Could they achieve a better website user experience and click-through rate if this headline was translated?
When it comes to the example on the left, there are similar questions to be asked.
Would the local marketing team be better not using the copyrighted (and therefore more than likely non-translatable as the copyright is in English) text and creating a “Sustainable Fashion” message that encompasses Primark’s dedication to the cause? This again demonstrates the complexity of the translation process. Would the consumer recognise the copyrighted brand?
We have to consider the copyright of course, but we also have to consider the audience experience of the campaign. Does this text achieve the desired “think, feel and do” response from their audience?
We’ll leave the conclusion to you… We feel that there is a benefit to holistically considering context, translation and adaptation or transcreation to get the best from your UX and marketing campaign.
Avoid the pitfalls of poor-quality eCommerce translations
Here are our top five tips for avoiding some of the most common mistakes eCommerce businesses make translating their websites.
- Avoid automatic translation provided by a CMS platform
- Support your website launch with a joined-up marketing campaign
- Translate all the elements of your website, not just currency and product pages
- Translate promotional images, checkout text and buttons and banners
- Don’t forget to localise design including colours and imagery but also the fundamental structure where appropriate.
Partner with a translation agency with vast eCommerce experience
We’ve written previously about the top five international fashion eCommerce websites, so you can see what a good localisation project looks like. As well as sharing our thoughts on eCommerce localisation best practices, we’ve helped eCommerce organisations reach their goals in new markets thanks to our translation services.
Our eCommerce clients have included Amazon Marketplace sellers, Lego and Levis to name a few. We have the experience and expertise to help you reach your growth goals, so get in touch with us today for a chat about your project or get an instant quote here.