People buy what they can read.

I recently participated in a discussion posted in the International Business Group on LinkedIn, where someone raised the question of the benefits of website translation in a foreign language. The initiator of the discussion mentioned that she had observed that customers abroad preferred to spend money for goods and services on websites in their own languages rather than on websites written in English.

Some of the group members argued that translating a website into a foreign language would be redundant in the software industry, but would be justified in the B2C application. Someone suggested machine translation or a combination of MT and human translation could also be a solution. Although, machine translation has improved over the years, human translation is still the most professional and preferred means of translation.

At ABLE, our philosophy is very simple: “People buy what they can read.” This applies to just about any product or service you try to sell whether in the US or abroad. In this global environment, it is almost essential for a company trying to reach foreign markets to have their website localized into the target language. Do you know that over 1.1 billion people use internet worldwide? And a vast majority of these users favor American products and services to the ones offered in their countries. Having lived abroad, I have personally witnessed buyers prefer shopping online on websites in their own language, even though they knew English very well. The comfort of their own language and locale is more important to them than a beautifully polished and attractive English website.

Many American companies have successfully achieved this goal. Take for instance eBay and Amazon – they have fully understood the benefits of selling to a foreign market in a language clearly understood by the buyer.

In our business, we constantly see companies challenged by the question of whether to translate/localize their products/content/service offerings and what the gain and/or loss would be if they did. What is the cost of localization vs. the increased revenue in the target markets? Return on Investment (ROI) is not always straight forward and sometimes not even measurable to begin with.

Fortunately, today’s technology allows us, language service providers, to translate websites in different languages at a relatively low cost. We help our clients, not only by advising on the proper language to use in a specific locale, but also how to optimize the English content to reduce the number of words for translation.

In taking this leap of faith you will join many other companies that have successfully expanded their market share that was once only available to English speaking buyers. As soon as you have a website, your goods & services become accessible world-wide and to reap the benefits of this, remember – “People buy what they can read”.

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