As levels of global internet connectivity continue to climb, opportunities abound for international businesses seeking to engage new audiences and drive revenues from overseas markets. Just 1 in 4 of an estimated 4 billion daily internet users is an English speaker, and the explosion in mobile device usage is reshaping the global commercial landscape.
Pivotal to the success of any international business growth is the adaptation of online collateral for local-market use. But whether marketing and informational pages or full e-commerce platforms, localizing websites of any kind takes time, effort, money, and requires the energies of multiple key personnel groups across an organization.
Before getting started, establishing a clear path to ROI is vital – measuring not only the monetary return on new-language sites but also building an effective strategy to support and analyze performance.
Preparing to expand your multilingual web presence?
Check out our guide to effectively measuring website localization ROI.
‘Investment case’ is just a fancy way of asking the question “why are we entering this new market?”
It’s an important question to answer, as determining the success of any localization program is tied to the overall expectations of the expansion project or business strategy.
If there isn’t any demand for your product or service in the market you’re preparing to enter, there may not be much chance of success – no matter how well you localize your website.
Even if the data is encouraging concerning the anticipated demand for your product or service in a new target market, website localization alone may be ineffective if other areas of your strategy have holes in them.
There are plenty of factors to keep in mind when globalizing business services, all of which are essential to support the investment made in translating and adapting your online presence ready for new language communities.
Some of the most important things to consider can include:
Regional Support N
Regulations & Compliance
(Think taxes, import/export requirements, marketing and advertising restrictions, data protection…).
Nothing blows attempts to track localization ROI off course more than an unexpected obstacle elsewhere in the business planning. To see a full return on the time and money invested in language adaptation, it’s critical that the rest of the strategy be watertight.
(Hint – this is where working with an experienced partner can really help, acting as an advisor to guide you through the potential pitfalls).
Localizing a site on its own won’t deliver the spike in new-market revenue you’re hoping for without the right marketing support to drive traffic to the new language versions of your online pages or e-store.
As with the original site version, thought should go into the supporting action to raise visibility and attract target visitors in the new regions.
Your marketing plan should cover:
How are your new target customers different from your domestic customers?
Search Engine Optimization
How do your target customers search for products and services like yours?
As well as content and support, the structure of your new-language site is also important.
First up, correct implementation of hreflang codes will help search engines display the correct language version of your site to global users, improving their native experience.
There are also some important steps to ensure that essential data for measuring performance (and calculating ROI) can be properly collected from site
While there are multiple ways of achieving this, a common technique is to use a single root domain (e.g. company.com) and use a subfolder (e.g. company.com/cn/) or subdomain (e.g. cn.company.com) structure.
This has the advantage of enabling your business to create different web analytics filters (for instance in Google Analytics) and isolate site activity on a per-language level but avoids the need for multiple analytics tracking codes, which can lead to misleading or inaccurate data.
However you approach the site design, two important points are:
Do you retain clean acquisition data when a user switches language?
Do goals, events or other triggers register on a regional level?
With the correct architecture in place, it’s possible to analyze site performance on a regional level, tracking the metrics that are key to your business.
Critically, you will want to make sure that you can monitor any revenue directly generated through your online presence via purchases and orders.
As outlined in the section above, it’s essential that these be viewable by your analytics tool on a per-region level (for instance, avoid directing different regional users to a single checkout page which may make segregating revenue streams difficult or impossible).
It’s a good idea also to track critical steps in the purchase process, ensuring you collect data on things such as shopping cart abandonment.
On a broader level, ensure that your business is tracking lead sources effectively.
If your customer acquisition process involves a sales team, for instance, then a customer downloading a whitepaper, case study or requesting a call-back via your website should be noted in your CRM in order to connect different touchpoints in the customer journey and ultimately help determine ROI across different channels and categories.
As well as monitoring sales generated by your new pages, it’s also important to look at the broader picture of site performance and understand how regional visitors are interacting with localized versions of your site.
Studying visitor behaviour may uncover bottlenecks in the buying journey where new content, support or technical site modifications could unlock additional revenue.
An overview of regional site performance might include:
Measuring localized site performance requires forethought and planning, but it’s key to ensuring that your business sees the optimal return on the investment of building out your multilingual online presence.
As well as identifying new revenue streams created by localized site pages, it’s also crucial to monitor a broader set of metrics to understand customer behaviour and improve their online experience.
Getting it right:
Looking for help with your website localization project?
ATL provides translation and multilingual content management solutions to global companies from the multimedia, broadcasting, music, technology,
Our combination of technology, expertise and commitment to quality enable clients to increase their global market share, expand their international customer base and reach local consumers with their products all over the world.