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A World of Customers Is Waiting to Read Your Website in Their Language

Many companies take it for granted that the majority of web content today is in English. Consequently, businesses reason that there isn’t a big demand for a localized version of their website or products. At this point, though, the cost of translation is far surpassed by the cost of not translating.

Research shows that 70 percent of Internet users aren’t native English speakers, and according to Common Sense Advisory, 75 percent of Internet users do not make important purchasing decisions unless the product description is in a language they can speak.

Given the evidence that customers prefer to engage with websites that are in their native languages, it’s surprising that almost half of Fortune 500 companies haven’t translated web content into more than one language.

Part of the issue may be that companies don’t know where to start or what a localization project will cost. If the website is 10,000 pages or you’re translating collateral like videos, brochures and email newsletters, building a business case for translation can be a little overwhelming. But if you can illuminate the solid ROI benefits of localization, it may be easier to visualize the benefits for the bran and communicate those benefits to all the stakeholders involved.

A Little Investment for a Lot of Return

Common Sense Advisory has done a lot of research into just how much localization costs – and benefits – companies. The organization found that companies aren’t willing to spend very much on translation in the first place. A typical investment in localization generally represents less than 1 percent of total investment in marketing or R&D, even including staffing and technology costs. This seems like a good deal, considering Fortune 500 businesses that expanded translation budgets were 1.5 times more likely than their Fortune 500 peers to report an increase in total revenue.

Consider this disconnect:

66 percent of Fortune 500 retail company websites haven’t translated their websites
70 percent of Internet users aren’t native English speakers
Less than 1 percent of investment in marketing or R&D is spent on localization
If you don’t translate the company website, there are a lot of potential customers who won’t even know your brand exists. The companies that are localizing content for new markets are reaping substantial benefits. Internet Retailer reports that when Israeli e-retailer Under.me created a German-language version of the website, the conversion rate for customers in Germany went up from 1 percent to 2 percent. In France, Under.me translated site content into French and conversions rose from 0.67 percent to 1 percent.

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