With internet, the world is smaller than ever. But taking advantage of that still is a challenge.
Yes you can easily talk to foreign people, drive traffic on your website from foreign countries, and translate your website with a tool like Weglot.
But increasing your returning visitors, your subscribers, or your customers (depends on who you are and your main KPI) is more than just driving traffic.
It is about creating value to your new targeted audience. And to do so, you could need more than an English website.
Who are you?
Internationalizing your website will be different if you are an ecommerce, a SaaS, a blog etc…In fact, the key factor to study here is whether you could target the whole Internet Nation at first, or if your website had to start by targeting a local audience. If you are:
In this case, it is pretty easy to internationalize your website if you are an English-speaker, or if you know the language of your foreign target audience. If you are willing to invest in professional translation, it will be even easier.
The only two challenges you will face are translating your website and adapting your content to your foreign audience. Translating your website could be a challenge because if you don’t speak the language, you will have to pay for professional translation: machine translation might not be enough to get a good translated website, especially when focusing on content.
And adapting your content to your foreign audience is also a challenge because of the cultural differences, but it depends on what type of content you are publishing.
Internationalizing your ecommerce is more difficult. Culture and Language are not the only barriers. The third one is shipping. Will your foreign customers accept to pay high shipping costs to get your products? Or how do you manage your logistics to reduce the shipping cost for your foreign customers?
If you have answers to these questions, you can think about internationalizing your website. But if you don’t, it may be too early to do it.
Of course, if you are a dropshipping ecommerce, this third barrier doesn’t exist, and you definitely should internationalize.
A Digital Product Seller
One rule: English First. As a digital product seller, you don’t have any logistics issues. So most of the time your product can be internationalized from day 1 by just providing a product in English. But your challenge will be to provide customer support in English.
So, be international from the beginning, and then if you need to, add other languages.
How to choose the languages of your Website
Understanding your audience/market is always the answer. However, to help you do this, you can use some tools to choose your new targeted audience, and of course, the languages you will translate your website in.
A simple way to do this is Google Analytics. Like most of websites in the world, it surely is your analytics tool. If not, you should go here.
Then, to know more about the languages you should translate your website in:
Go on your Google Analytics Dashboard > Audience > Geographical Data > Language
And here we are: you can make your choice. Of course you should take the most used foreign language, but your choice will also depend on your goals and your resources (do you know the language? will you pay for a professional translator? etc…)
Adapt your content to your target
Adapting your content to your new audience is crucial. Translating is not enough to internationalize your website. Internationalizing is about producing content which fills your different audiences needs.
An ecommerce should adjust the currency to its target.
With WordPress/WooCommerce, here is what you can do:
Install a currency plugin on your WordPress, you can find some on the directory.
You can find tools for basically any CMS, or for any website.
If you internationalize, take the culture of your new audience into consideration. Does the name of your website means something different in their language for example?
Sometimes brands or websites forget to check the meaning of their name in other languages and are surprised when foreign audiences are making fun of their name.
A good example of that was the Nokia Lumia: Lumia means prostitute in Spanish. So be careful when you internationalize.
Your content should be carefully adapted to the culture of your foreign audience. Don’t hurt their feelings and have control on your content.
For example, colours are not perceived the same way in Western and Eastern countries. In Western countries, white means purity and peace. But in the East, it is seen as misfortune and mourning.
And get the translation that fits your needs. If you’re an ecommerce, machine translation might be enough for most of your content at the beginning. Then you might want to refine most visited/clicked pages and products. But if you are content focused, involving someone who knows the language in the translation process, or simply getting a professional translator on Weglot, or even TextMaster could be a good idea. You should avoid misunderstandings, or your cultural adaptation won’t work.
To conclude, to create value to your audience by Internationalizing, you need to:
- Know yourself and identify the challenges you will have to overcome to internationalize your website (investing in professional translation, international shipping etc..)
- Use analytics tools like Google Analytics to identify in which languages you should translate your website
- Adapt your content by knowing the cultural differences between you and your audience, and get a professional translator to avoid cultural misunderstandings