Author: Quill Content
According to research from the Common Sense Advisory, 55% of global consumers will only buy products from websites that provide information in their own language. And in markets where English isn’t the lingua franca, the preference for websites in the mother-tongue increases to as much as 80%.
From providing local currency pricing to tailoring URLs, retailers are getting better at localising their websites - but Primary Content such as product and category descriptions, which sit at the penultimate point of the purchase journey, are where the real challenge lies. Here are some key tips for localising Primary Content for different markets.
In many ways, producing content for the UK, US and Australasian markets might seem like the easiest of localisation challenges, but the subtle regional variations can be a minefield. Take the simple example of summer shoes: what the British and Americans know as flip flops, the Australians refer to as thongs, and those from New Zealand, jandals. Spotting and correcting these inconsistencies - and doing keyword research to identify exactly what terminology people are using to search in each market - is crucial.
It’s also vital to understand how variations in grammar can affect readability across different languages. For example, while in the UK we might think ‘I’ve already done that’ is the correct sentence structure, it would sound jarring to American English speakers, who would naturally say “I already did that”. Working with native language speakers is the best way to ensure your content is grammatically on-point in each market.
Your brand is more than just a set of words that needs translating. It is a set of values and beliefs, and the best vehicle for communicating those is an authentic tone of voice, reflected consistently across every piece of content. How best to translate that tone of voice for different markets can vary; for example, while English loan words are often seen as trendy in Korea, they can be perceived as low-quality in Germany. The level of formality required may also differ from region to region. Decide how you want your brand to be seen, and then find the right ways to communicate that consistently across different markets.
Whether we use humour, alliteration or lyrical turns of phrase, we all like to brighten up Primary Content, which is typically perceived as functional and un-sexy. However, sometimes we might use throwaway idioms that are perfectly understood in one region, but mean very something very different in another. For example, whilst in the UK we might say something like “button up your blazer” to describe how to wear an item of clothing, directly translated into Brazilian, ‘Abotoar o paletó’ actually means to die. So, to avoid comical (or even damaging) misunderstandings, it’s important to ensure that content isn’t being translated word for word, but rather localised using local expressions.
This may seem like an obvious one, but identifying differences in language can be a challenge for many brands. There are many countries with significant variations from region to region: not only in terms of the spoken word, as with Flemish and French in Belgium, but also the writing system itself, for example in the case of traditional and simplified Chinese. In situations where the right translation can be very subjective, it often takes time to establish confidence that writers and editors are all working to the same variations. Establishing a detailed brief and working consistently with the same team can provide a level of comfort here.
With 56% of consumers telling the European Commission that the ability to find information is more important even than price, the question is no longer whether retailers should be localising content, but how to do it across multiple markets, efficiently and effectively.
To learn more about the differences in cross-border eCommerce from country to country, take a look at our Cross-Border Country Trading Passport Guides.