Do You Need to Localize Your Website?


website localizationProper localization, which is the process of adapting your product to the local marketplace, will impact not only your web traffic, but sales, advertising conversion, mobile downloads and more. As access to the internet spreads, localization of your mobile and online presence and products, whether they be physical, digital, or informational, becomes more and more critical.

Localization isn’t just about translating your website, it’s about embracing the language, culture and customs of your target audience so that your information and products seem natural to your users. While localization isn’t necessary for every business or organization, in many cases it provides a great advantage.

What Could Localization do for your Business/Organization?

Increase Local Users

Even if you aren’t trying to distribute your product around the world, it’s rare these days that a single language is spoken in an area, especially in an ethnically and culturally diverse country like the USA. After English, the top three languages spoken in the USA are Spanish, Chinese, and Tagalog (1). By adding localization to your website and offering your content in the languages most common to the area you’re targeting, you could potentially be opening up your product to a whole new group of users who are right in your area.

Increase International Presence

Improving your international presence would, for most organizations, be a good thing. If you are trying to sell a product, you are potentially opening your business to a whole new customer base. If you are a non-profit or information provider, expanding your international presence could potentially lead to new partnerships and perhaps some international funding.

Among the top 10 Global Websites in 2014, 86% of users were outside the USA. That number is up from 79% in 2013. (2)

When asked, more than 72% of global consumers said they prefer to use their native language for online shopping and more than half (55%) said they only buy from websites if there is information in their native language. A similar number (56.2%) said native language information is more important than price. (3)

More Targeted Advertising

As mentioned above, the majority of users prefer to shop and do research in their native language. It makes sense then that if your online advertising is localized and leads to localized landing pages, both click-throughs and conversions will improve. This would have a positive impact not only on businesses selling a product, but also organizations disseminating information. New users are always a good thing.

86% of localized campaigns outperformed English in both conversions and click-throughs. (4)

English campaigns had an average CTR and conversion rates of 2.35% and 7.47% respectively. Localized campaigns did better in both regards with a CTR and conversion of 3.34% and 9.08%. That is an increase of 42% and 22% respectively. (4)

Increase Mobile App Users

Smartphone and Tablet use is on the rise. Offering your mobile app in only a single language can significantly limit your ability to reach your target audience.

In 2014, an estimated 1.44 Billion people used Smartphones worldwide. That number is expected to top 1.9 Billion in 2015 and by 2018 an estimated 2.56 Billion people will be using Smartphones. (5)

50% of countries in the top 10 for downloads and revenue in the iOS App Store and 80% in the top 5 in Google Play are non-English speaking countries in Europe and East Asia. (6)

What the above statistics confirm is that unless your product is super local and super niche, if it isn’t localized, you’re probably losing users and potentially money.

Things to keep in mind when doing localization

The actual process of localization, depending on the platform you’re using, is pretty straightforward, if tedious and time consuming. It’s not overly difficult, but there are a few things to keep in mind that will make the whole process faster and easier.

  1. Start the localization process as early as possible. The longer you wait to set your website/app up for localization, the more difficult it is going to be and the longer it will take.
  2. Keep localization in mind when designing. English is a relatively ‘compact’ language so if you design your site in English, when it’s translated to other, longer, languages it’s possible for there to be some breaks in your design. You’ll want to test the various languages to make sure your layout doesn’t need adjusting. This is especially true when translating to non left-to-right reading languages and those with special characters.
  3. Think through the content on your site carefully. Once you start the localization process, changing content becomes exponentially more time consuming and expensive.
  4. Don’t rely on Google Translate for your translations. As helpful as Google Translate can be, it is not always the most accurate product out there and you don’t want to stake your business on it. Since localization ideally takes into account local culture and values, your best bet is to hire a professional translator from the region you are targeting to ensure the translation is both accurate and culturally appropriate.

While localization is an extra expense that often gets pushed to the back burner, if you have any desire to grow your international presence, it’s an important step to take and the payoff is potentially huge.