Independent studies support the view that customers value native language acknowledgement. People, it would seem, have a preference to buy in their own language.
For example the 2012 Lost in Translation study, which suggests that 72.4 per cent of consumers are more likely to buy if provided with information in their own language.
Furthermore, over half of respondents said that the ability to obtain information in their own language was more important to them than price. Then, research undertaken on behalf of Common Sense Advisory in 2011 found that when given a choice of languages, nine out of ten internet users always visited websites in their native languages, while 42 per cent of respondents said they never purchased products and services in other languages.
So it would seem that it is not necessarily that no one at all overseas will buy from a company if everything is in English, but more about on how much it is missing out. If that percentage, say, is 40 per cent, a business can put a lot of money and effort into establishing itself operationally for international trade while writing off a massive part of the market.
As a start, companies intent upon export ought to begin the localisation process with a thoroughly translated website. With emphasis on thoroughly. It is not impressive to have an incredibly simple ‘page’ in a foreign language which immediately defaults back into English one click further on.
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While there are of course the free options provided by the likes of Google, the risk here is a lack of contextualisation which tends to result in inaccuracies. Plus there are potential security risks posed by submitting your content to a public service.
Then there is the option of sourcing your own freelancers. A growing problem, however, is that of the ‘fake translator’. Unbelievable as it may sound, there is a trend for individuals to ‘steal’ the qualifications of a genuine professional, invent a likely sounding email and pitch for business. A decent language service provider will be able to see these coming but a less-than-experienced company can easily be fleeced this way.
Our investment in qualified, local, native speaking salespeople for Europlus Direct without question has allowed the business to flourish overseas rapidly. Plus with One Global to take on ten new staff this Spring there is evidence that others are beginning to see the light.
Not only does linguistic agility convey professionalism, it conveys respect and if there is one thing a customer needs to feel it is valued.
See also: 3 ways to improve your chances of success exporting overseas – Sean Ramsden, founder and CEO of Ramsden International, says that exporters must be mindful of cultural differences when it comes to exporting.