As you are adapting your content for an international audience, there are three big buzz words that you should become familiar with: translation, internationalization and localization. All three terms are generally used synonymously, but understanding the difference between the three can help you to establish meaningful relationships with global consumers.
Investing in professional translation services can further expand your reach to international consumers, so familiarize yourself with these terms to prepare your business to interact with your global audience.
Translation: Making content accessible across language barriers
The process of changing your content from one language to another is known as translation. Many companies recognize this as one of the most important steps when it comes to business globalization. Adapting your documents, Web pages and virtual communications is key for capturing consumers across the world, as many people are much more likely to interact with businesses that can reach them in their native language.
"According to a study conducted by Common Sense Advisory, Inc., international consumers are more likely to purchase from a site in their native language."
According to a 2006 study conducted by Common Sense Advisory, Inc., "Can't Read, Won't Buy: Why Language Matters," consumers are more likely to purchase from companies that communicate in their language. More than half of the respondents said they would only buy from a business that sold products in their native language, while 56.2 percent of respondents said website language was more important than price. Researchers found this desire for translation to be greater when it came to high-touch industries as opposed to tangible goods. For example, 85.3 percent of people said language was critical when purchasing insurance or financial services from a global business, while 45.8 percent said it was important when buying clothing.
Localization: Taking consumers' habits into consideration
But when it comes to fully preparing your website for a global audience, localization is key. While translation is the process of changing the actual language of your site, localization takes culture into consideration and adapts your content based on the purchasing and behavioral patterns of your international audience. This may include changing the layout of your site, adding more graphics, or reformatting dates and times, and it's one of the greatest opportunities your brand has to build a meaningful relationship with international clients.
According to the Harvard Business Review, businesses should examine three factors when localizing their websites: what kind of products they are selling, where they are selling it and when they are offering goods to their consumers. The source broke down each category with detailed recommendations for each of the three pillars, noting that the success of any venture is closely linked to how a company localizes its content. Since localization is such an important aspect of translation, many translation services take this into account when adapting content across the languages. Search for a business that uses localization technology when translating, as this can automatically change aspects of your website.
Internationalization: Setting the groundwork for localization
Unlike translation and localization, internationalization is more of a technical term. According to the Globalization & Localization Association, internationalization happens before translation or localization – it involves altering the source code for a website so the content is more easily adapted once translated to a different language. This step is generally taken first when planning to adapt your website for international consumers, as it saves a great deal of time in the long run.