It’s obvious that localization plays a pivotal role in any company looking to succeed at the international level. The importance of localization should be seen in the backdrop of it being cited as the third most important requirement for an online business to succeed at the international level. Over the last few years, a lot of efforts were put into optimizing the customer support experience for English-speaking customers. The new opportunity for companies is to replicate that experience for non-English-speaking customers. Around 50% of people on Google search for online information in their native language since not all Internet users today speak English. Hence, a business lacking the localized content on its website will likely miss out on considerable potential consumers.
CSA, a US-based research and consulting group published a paper in 2014, on the impact of localization on sales around the world. It made a very interesting discovery saying companies would usually get more buyers if they localized their website contents. CSA also found a substantial connection between the time spent on a website and the purchases made. Customers normally prefer content in their native language, and on average spend more time on the website and placing orders.
Why localization is important?
Ideally, nothing is preferable than companies making their entire website in the local language. But if that is not feasible, the next best thing they can do is to make content available at least for information related to post-sales support, user reviews, and navigation that are the most sought-after content for localization. The report also established the fact that as many as 74% of customers are likely to make repeat purchases if post-sales support was offered in their native language.
Also, 50% of respondents at least wanted navigation facilities in their native language if nothing else on the website could be translated. The bigger brands seemed unaffected by the lack of content in the native language and smaller and newer brands were more likely to be adversely affected. There cannot be a better example of the correlation between the availability of native content and an increase in sales than China. According to a 2017 report, Chinese was fast catching up with English as the most used language on the internet and now within a span of three years, China has surpassed the US as the biggest e-commerce market which explains the rise in demand for native Chinese Call Center Support and native Chinese Customer Support.
Language proficiency is the key determinant for how long people stay on a website, and more they stay, more they are likely to make a purchase. Overall, 55% of consumers prefer to buy only in their native language, and the comfort level of as many as 53% of customers increase when buying in their native language. Given a choice, consumers from France (61%), Germany (58%), and Turkey (61%) would prefer to buy and be supported in their native language. That explains why over the last few years we have seen a palpable rise in demand of Arabic Call Center and Portuguese Call Center.
Talking of countries that least prefer to talk in English are Germany (43%), France (42%), and Japan (34%). To be able to sell in these countries, your website content needs to be in the local language. However, just making the website in the local language is not sufficient. You also need to have a multilingual call center on board. You don’t want the customers to think that they are important to sell to but not important enough to serve and consequently the increase in demand for French Call Center and German Call Center.
Challenges for localization
The website, advertising, content, and marketing materials need to be customized according to what is appropriate and would appeal to the customers in the local market. For instance, consider national celebrations or occasions. They mean different things for different people and sending the same marketing material to different markets at the same time will miss the target completely. A French customer would be least interested to hear about offers and deals related to a celebration, he doesn’t share. Similarly, what is culturally appropriate in one market may not be so in the other and can seriously offend your customers, damaging the reputation forever.
Irrespective of their size, most of the global companies struggle when it comes to providing a high-quality multilingual call center and customer support. While larger companies, having more resources handle the problem with ease, it’s the smaller ones that face problems and look for finding affordable and sub-scale solutions.
Besides, there are other factors to be considered. Is your website showing the correct price in the local currency? Have you taken customer’s purchasing preferences into account? There are issues of the mode of payment too. There are countries where customers don’t have either access to or willing to pay through credit cards. In that case, you are supposed to offer them alternative modes of payment. Moreover, there are other pressing issues like dates, schedules, weights, measures, even local words and phrases that need to be considered.
How to embrace localization?
Foreign clients can’t be treated shabbily, especially, when you are facing stiff competition from other global firms and local companies in the market. You cannot take your overseas customers for granted since it may prove counterproductive to your business interests. It’s obvious that if your sales promotions and website fail to attract and appeal, your competition is just a click away. So how to move ahead with the task of localization?
Ideally, the first step of localization is to know who you need to localize for, meaning where your customers are coming from. Which countries and languages contribute the maximum to your online traffic? What is their user behavior when they browse your website? How often do they abandon without completing the purchase as compared to visitors from English speaking countries? Website analytics can help you unravel a lot of these patterns based on which you can determine which languages you should be focusing on.
Even when you have localized your website content, make sure that you constantly seek feedback from your current and potential customers in new markets to see how they perceive your content and if they have any feedback or suggestions on how you can improve your communication, content, and product. At LiveSalesman, as a part of our multilingual call center outsourcing, we offer this service to our clients.
You also need to know about the search engines and social media used in different countries. If you are planning to run an advert campaign in China on Google and Facebook, you may be doing it wrong because the Chinese expect your campaigns on Baidu and WeChat.2. Images play a very important role in international marketing, and you need to be cautious since these are culturally sensitive issues. What works for a family in developed countries like France and Germany may not be appropriate for an orthodox country like Saudi Arabia or Oman. When you opt for a quality website, and your marketing materials localization, you’re investing in scaling up sales and increased brand awareness.
Talking of companies who killed it by having custom-made localized content is Airbnb, the fastest growing online company for offering homestays. In a short span of nine years, the vacation rental company experienced phenomenal growth with currently having 1.5 million listings in more than 34,000 cities across the time zones. The credit of this exceptional growth goes to Airbnb which successfully executed its localization strategy.
Today, Airbnb operates in more than 200 countries having its website content available in 31 languages. It also created country-specific tailor-made marketing content, online as well as a print version of Airbnb magazine, city guidebooks and conducting local sightseeing experiences for travelers.
Good customer service is key to localization
The ability to speak to your customers in their native language builds trust- crucial across the purchase funnel and to your support. This is especially important when a brand is trying to establish in a new market by building brand awareness. Normally, when a company is in growth mode, to grow too quickly internationally, they resort to the culture of band-aid solutions instead of putting hard work to address the core issues, automated translation is one of them.
Using automated translation tools has its risks and history is replete with examples of communication disasters due to wrong translation and how it affected brand adversely, leading to a fall in your revenue and profit. Using native multilingual call center agents for support is highly recommended if you are entering a new market.
At Livesalesman, our CX Solutions program goes much beyond helping companies optimize call center KPIs. We help our clients develop comprehensive customer experience strategies to succeed in international markets. We analyze your processes and identify where the gaps are and what you should be doing to fix those. Given our years of experience in offering Multilingual Customer Support in over 30 European and Asian languages to customers in different countries, we have gathered some valuable critical insights into the traits and characteristics of local consumer behavior and how to best deal with them. Whatmore, our multilingual customer support agents are trained to act as your eyes and ears and proactively seek feedback from your customers and relay to you. This helps you gauge how your customers perceive your brand. Thus, we help you stay ahead of your competitors and gain credibility in a new market. We support our clients to drive revenue, increase sales, and win customers’ loyalty with a CX strategy that supports customers at every step. Talk to us to learn more.