Global business expansion is on the rise, with more companies starting out small and aiming to reach their full potential by reaching new markets and new customers, no matter the level of competition or the challenges. What some companies forget to take into account is that while their brand might have blossomed in its place of origin, it might need a new strategy, a new image, and a new presentation in order to earn the trust of its new target market. In order to achieve that, every brand needs to localize its presence, including its website as its key form of representation in this new market.
The process of localization goes well beyond simply creating a website in the target language. It is a complex procedure that has numerous intricate steps and precautions that each business needs to take in order to prevent leaving the wrong impression. Here are a few imperative steps that you should include in your website localization strategy, and hopefully, these will allow you to build an authentic, relatable brand presence that will in turn grow your business over time.
Research and understand your target audience
In the same way you started your business originally by researching your local market, it’s necessary to repeat the process for your new target audience. Although chances are that there are certain overlaps in the data you’ll uncover, you still have to discover all the unique qualities and factors that would impact how you position yourself in these new locations.
In addition to understanding your buyers and potential business partners, there are many merits in understanding your competition, too. You’re about to enter a market with already established brands that hold the reigns, and you don’t stand a chance to earn a fair share of the market unless you learn the local businesses’ best practices, potential setbacks, issues, all of which will help you tweak your digital presence and build a website that will be considered relevant in local terms.
Translate the content on your website
With or without a physical presence, your website will be your main channel of communication and the key touchpoint for all of your new customers. What are the chances of them making a purchase or even recommending your business to someone they know if they cannot fully understand your brand voice? This is a hurdle many brands forget to overcome, especially when entering a market that prefers its native language. Take China, for example, where 95% of customers prefer to shop in their native language, making it more difficult to appeal to the local audience using just English.
To overcome such a major barrier when entering an international market, each business needs to consider the need to translate their website and create a locally-relevant presence. It helps brands be more relatable and create an emotional connection to the local consumer. When entering the Chinese market, many brands need to utilize professional Chinese translation services, so as to ensure the integrity of the brand when it is translated, and to avoid any cultural errors that could lead to miscommunication. Bridging this gap is a priority that can only be achieved with quality translation, so it’s vital to include this step in your strategy.
Don’t forget to optimize your local presence
The language itself is the key means of communication, but search engines still need a little more effort to rank your brand properly. In some countries, the use of different search engines can prevail, leaving you with a steep learning curve to find out the factors that will impact your ranking there, and discover the keywords you need to incorporate that might be missing from your original text.
Add to that, your entire website presence needs to be optimized for local search engines and in the new language. Don’t forget about meta data, technical optimization, as well as ongoing content optimization, link building, and image optimization that will increase your authority and inspire greater trust among your new customers.
Remember the cultural context
Your target audience does pick up on certain cultural nuances from the target language you choose. Alas, that is far from the only factor at play here. Building a localized website presence means that you need to imbue your website content with cultural relevance every step of the way. Using local linguistic norms, adding idioms and common phrases acceptable in everyday speech, and adding images that are both culturally relevant and appropriate all matters when localizing your website.
Sometimes, that means that the entire layout of your original site is not usable for your new market. In cultures where people consume content from right to left, a standard, westernized website can be perceived as annoying and not user-friendly. The same applies to videos, background music, as well as details such as currency, measuring systems, and the like. You need to find all potential cultural dissonances as well as locally acceptable alternatives to implement in your website.
Localizing your website is just one step in your strategy to win over the hearts and minds of your local audience. However, it is a vital step that can help your business flourish, so it pays to invest time as well as creativity in refining the process one strategic step at a time. Use this brief guide to your advantage, and you’ll be able to successfully localize your web presence and slowly gain the trust of your new target audience.