Today, there are over 2 billion people online and this may come as a surprise, but less than 45% are actually English speakers. Over the last 12 years, English speakers has been far overshadowed by the growth of:
- Arabic speakers (2,501.2%)
- Russian speakers (1,825.8%)
- Chinese speakers (1,478.1%)
- Portuguese speakers (990.1%) and
- Spanish speakers (807.4%) going online
(source: “Manual of Language Acquisition by Christiane Fäcke”)
So, are you doing the right things to really talk the languages of your customers, as well as being available to them at the right time with the right message? One of Nelson Mandela’s memorable quotes is rather fitting here:
“If you talk to someone in a language they understand, that goes to their head. If you talk to them in their language, it goes to their heart”
So, the natural step to communicate with your customers in their own language is to ‘translate’ your content. Or – more appropriately – to ‘localise’ as much of the customer’s journey as possible.
Arguably, the main focus for many organisations is primarily the website. Your website is your shop window, so localising your website sounds like you probably have everything covered, right? However, the whole customer journey is an important lifecycle and the opportunity for any retailer to engage at every step of that journey is essential in gaining competitor advantage. We’ve put together a snapshot of some pretty important numbers to think about:
(source: Common Sense Advisory)
So what do these steps of the customer journey look like and where could you include these in your engagement strategy?
Here are some suggestions that could help:
- Blogs and social content
- Online user reviews
- Email and nurture campaigns
- After sales support
- Live chat
- Supporting content (product support, FAQ etc.)
Localising might seem easy, however, simply translating English content into another language is not sufficient. A company must have someone who understands both the language and the culture of the target area in order to ensure no one is offended by a company’s marketing efforts.
Not every UK retailer will agree that localising every step of their customer’s journey adds value. However, there are many reasons why businesses should still consider becoming a global retail company and communicating in their customer’s native tongue. Expanding beyond UK markets brings great benefits, including greater customer base; increased revenue and profits; higher product saturation and impact; economies of scales; and more.
A great example of a global brand that speaks locally to their customers is Nielsen, who adopted a fresh 360-degree approach to deliver a complete customer experience in over 100 countries. Nielsen has a sharp focus on customer experience and constantly strives to improve its ability to deliver on its brand promise. Nielsen opted to use SDL Knowledge Center to centrally manage and streamline the creation, translation and localisation of product help files, overhauling previous fragmented practices. SDL Knowledge Center acted as a central hub, providing the technical writers and product leaders a single source of truth and a unified approach that greatly improved efficiency.
Additionally, SDL Translation Management System (TMS) was key to centralising the translation and localisation process for all this content in up to 64 languages. Because SDL TMS automates and accelerates global tasks, Nielsen is able to gain more control of its language content while improving productivity. http://www.sdl.com/customers/nielsen.html
Bruno Herrmann, The Senior Director of Digital Globalisation at Nielsen said: “Some people think that the customer experience ends when a customer is comfortable using a product or a service. It doesn’t. By establishing a continual loop, you can always encourage feedback and deliver ‘more’ so that the next generation or initiative can be further developed to improve your offering.”
My closing thoughts would be that today, most eCommerce websites offer the ability to take payments in the right currency and ship orders to the correct location, but often fall short in the language department. Web content, product descriptions, reviews, blogs, forums, marketing emails, live chat etc. all require localisation into local languages to provide an engaging customer experience and to help customers access the right information throughout the buying cycle. Personally, I prefer to buy from a site that I can understand – how about you?