At Global Voices, we know that communication is most effective when it uses the full power of the target language. If a business speaks to their foreign target audience exclusively in English, or uses a literal translation service, that audience is unlikely to be engaged by what the business is trying to communicate. However, if a business can talk to people in their language, including local cultural references, it will help prove to them that they’re a business worth listening to.
Being multilingual is important to businesses…
It is simply astounding how many businesses still communicate solely in English regardless of their target audience. This lazy approach to communication only serves to leave foreign audiences ignored and alienated, and their language unrepresented. For example, a 2016 report on the presence of Arabic online found that in Egypt, a predominantly Arabic speaking country, a third of the top 50 visited websites were either not available in Arabic or did not include Arabic as their primary language.
As markets become global, the ability to work in multiple languages will only increase. This means that in order to succeed, businesses must localise their content to meet the diverse language and cultural expectations of customers. Communicating fluently in your customer’s language is essential to acquiring new customers and building relationships with pre-existing ones.
An insight into local culture is key
Many businesses assume that a literal translation of existing (usually English language) content is enough when working in non-English speaking countries. However, this isn’t the case. A knowledge of local culture can be just as important as the language itself for businesses.
For example, the Arabic spoken in Northern Africa is culturally different to Arabic spoken in the Middle East. Therefore, businesses will need a different translation service when targeting an audience in Morocco than they would in Saudi Arabia. Knowing this could be the difference between a successful campaign and one that falls on deaf ears.
If organisations put in place a localisation strategy that identifies the cultural differences of target markets, it will make communicating in their target country, culture and language much easier. Using a native-tongue translator is the best way to do this; that’s why when Global Voices offer Spanish translation services for audiences in Spain for example, we use different translators to when we offer Spanish translation services for South American audiences.
Website localisation is better than word-for-word website translation.
Although localisation is an important and effective tool regardless of your business and of whether or not your target audience is clients, business partners or customers, one aspect of localisation that often goes overlooked is website translation.
Website translation is the process of changing an original source language version of web content such as text, multimedia, ebooks, or apps into a target language. Many translation companies will offer a word-for-word website translation service, however, this won’t be enough for businesses who want to communicate effectively. It may help your target audience understand your website, but it won’t engage them.
Website localisation goes beyond translation to modify the source language and other site elements to appeal to the customer’s cultural preferences in their own target language. For this reason, localisation enhances translation quality tenfold.