Since you’re here reading our blog, it’s safe to assume that you’ve got an interest in communicating with organisations or consumers in foreign language markets. Maybe you’re thinking of getting outside of the 25 percent of the internet that uses English online and making some new customers and contacts in the other 75 percent of the internet?
Logic dictates that if you want to sell something online to a customer who doesn’t speak English as their first language, you’ll need an e-commerce site in their language. And statistics back this assumption up – a 2014 Common Sense Advisory study found that a whopping 80 percent of internet users with limited English skills boycott English-language websites altogether.
So if you want to tap into the 23 percent of internet users who speak Chinese or the 8 percent who speak Spanish as a first language, then you’ll need websites that cater to those languages and markets. And just like for your English language websites, you’ll need a whole host of content to populate your site and to market it. Here are the three main types on content you’ll want to add to your to-do list.
Content for your own website and blog
Your first content requirement is going to be the copy that goes on your own international websites, including landing pages and product description pages, with carefully crafted marketing copy. In most cases you can simply translate the content from your English language site, but you’ll want to have it translated by a professional translator who is a native speaker and a resident of the country whose language you’re translating to. This is to ensure that all the terminology and cultural references are correct, sensitive and up to date: this is all part of the localisation process.
To put the importance of localisation in context, imagine if you were from an English-speaking country other than the USA, and went to an English language website to buy some shoes, but discovered that the shoe sizes were all in US measurements, the prices were all in US dollars, and the shipping forms were all designed for US addresses. You’d probably get pretty frustrated and storm out (virtually). That’s why it’s crucial to have a website or microsite for each individual country; take, for an example, the main website for a huge multinational like Nike. It has a microsite for nearly every country in the world, which visitors are instantly directed to depending on their IP address.
It’s also a good idea to keep your blogs regularly updated with new, useful content pertaining to your industry, for three reasons. First of all, you want to give people a reason to visit your site regularly – if you’ve got useful, entertaining information posted there, that’s a good reason for people to visit. Secondly, you want your site to be appearing in Google for the search terms most relevant to your service offerings – writing blog content optimised with these terms will help you score those essential organic search rankings. And thirdly, Google’s bots (or whichever search engine reigns supreme in your target language market) regularly crawl pages and downgrade those sites that appear dormant, so regularly updating your site with fresh content will keep it shiny and new in the eyes of search engines.
Expert articles for industry journals
Another crucial way to market your site and services – and improve your search rankings – is to liaise with other websites and industry journals and offer them advice and ‘top tips’ articles in your special area of expertise; and, with a team of translators at your disposal, you can do this for your sites in every language. You can have articles written in one language, and then have them translated and localised (to ensure the content and references are appropriate) for sites in other languages. Not only does this kind of “content marketing” help to establish trust in your brand’s expertise, but you’ll also gain valuable backlinks to your website (generally in the author bio), which Google uses as a key measure when it comes to ranking websites in organic search. The more backlinks your site has from other trusted, high traffic websites, the more highly Google ranks your own site.
Organic search results are a vitally important online marketing tool for any business, but perhaps even more important in 2015 is social media. Facebook alone has a whopping 1.49 billion users, making it possibly the most important content host in the entire world. Facebook has already become the primary marketing tool for most of the world’s online media publishers, replacing the old “front page” of news sites with the ever-scrolling Facebook feed, and the same theory applies to online businesses. If you want the eyes of your potential customers, you need to be on their social network of choice, and putting out worthwhile, valuable content that they’re going to want to click on.
There’s not nearly enough space here to go into the vagaries of each country’s social media preferences – for instance, large videos with long load times don’t work (for obvious reasons) in countries with slow internet speeds – but it is worth mentioning that Facebook and Twitter aren’t the be-all-and-end-all of social media. Both those networks are banned in China, for instance, where you’ll need a presence on its top social network Ren Ren, while VK.com is the biggest network in Russia, and Orkut rules Brazil.
It’s no small task to tackle, but with a microsite for each of your foreign language markets with regularly updated, localised content, and content marketing strategies for industry journals and social media, you can quickly and massively increase your online consumer base.
*Photo credits: designer491/ Shutterstock.com