In today’s web-driven, interconnected e-commerce industry, companies increasingly look to international markets to expand their customer base—and increase sales. Direct sellers are aggressively targeting markets such as China, Spain and Russia, among others. To succeed in global markets, companies need to translate and localize their content. Direct sales executives should follow these six steps to do so with great results:
1. Develop a strong ISEM strategy.
Establishing and maintaining an international search engine marketing (ISEM) strategy will greatly assist a direct seller’s market growth. It’s essential to delegate localization and translation tasks to professionals who have a proven understanding of colloquial speech, cultural nuances and regional dialects, as these professionals can most aptly define regionally relevant keywords.
When defining top keywords, businesses need to adapt their strategies for local search engines. While Google is dominant in much of the world, web users in China are more likely to turn to Baidu, which uses much different search algorithms. Simply translating keywords to a new language will not benefit your business. Once keywords are defined, your business can expand its campaigns through the use of pay-per-click ads, landing pages, experiential marketing, in-person events and multilingual rich media.
To succeed in global markets, companies need to translate and localize their content.
2. Don’t take away the right to choose.
Remember that many countries have more than one main language, and there are always consumers who prefer to be spoken to in their native tongue no matter where in the world they reside. Offering customers a drop-down menu option of available languages is a simple adjustment your business can make that will be greatly appreciated by your customers.
3. Don’t ignore images.
Although often forgotten, photos, images and artwork must also be localized. Choosing an inappropriate illustration instantly demonstrates a company’s lack of cultural awareness, which can cost the company a sale. Images are also important for visual impact and search engine optimization (SEO) purposes, so it is imperative that they resonate in target regions. After choosing images, localization experts can then assist in tagging the images with specific keywords to further boost SEO.
Consumers look for quality shopping experiences that make them feel valued, and this is the key to winning and retaining business.
4. Place a heavy weight on content development.
Content remains king, and dedicating appropriate resources to creating quality content should be a priority. Turning to a quick-fix solution like simple machine translation with no human input or editing might be worse than not translating content at all, and this has great impact on correct translation of your brand’s image.
5. Above all, respect your customer.
This is obviously important in all aspects of a consumer-facing business, but special care should be taken when working in global markets with varying cultural preferences. Consumers look for quality shopping experiences that make them feel valued, and this is the key to winning and retaining business. If customers visit your company’s site to find mistranslated content or foreign navigation options, they will likely feel like an outsider is trying to win their business and may take their shopping elsewhere.
6. Establish a system for easy management.
For most companies, localizing content is an ongoing process, as websites are constantly updated with news and rotating products. This is an incredibly important step, and one of the greatest challenges is identifying a management system for automation and efficiency that can scale with new business growth. Allowing for quick, but still optimal, translation and localization is key to complete success in penetrating international markets.
It is this last step that will provide the most benefit to a large direct seller. In one example, Nu Skin, a direct seller of anti-aging products, is expanding its product line across international borders. Nu Skin publishes content for 52 markets around the world and needs to translate and localize its content into 20 languages, including Chinese, Finnish, Russian, Spanish and Czech. The translated content is then disseminated to more than 825,000 independent distributors.
With such a large undertaking, Nu Skin wanted to streamline the process for localizing new and dynamic content for its global markets. Their process at the time was an inefficient and decentralized web model in which regional sites were all separately managed. To better manage this process, the company sought translation and localization technology that was flexible enough to allow for a host of workflows but simultaneously capable of automating tasks to improve efficiency.
This direct seller adopted localization management software that allowed core content to be quickly translated and localized, which helped better target international customers and increase global sales. The company set up a scalable platform to accommodate all language translation processing. This automated a large chunk of the workflow and allowed for efficient collaboration between all team members involved.
Direct sellers who establish a centralized platform for localization will improve global brand management and decrease publication cycle times. Content creation is an ongoing process and will only grow as companies conquer new markets. A centralized platform should be established in the very beginning so all localized content can be routed through the proper review cycles and localization review cycles can keep pace with content creation. For many direct selling companies, resource flexibility is important, since the decision regarding who will perform content localization is commonly driven by individual markets or handled internally.
Direct sellers who establish a centralized platform for localization will improve global brand management and decrease publication cycle times.
Because e-commerce buyers cite language as a driver for purchasing decisions, direct sellers should listen to such feedback and provide customers and distributors with accurate and up-to-date translation and localization efforts. From there, sales will increase globally. These best practices will help direct sellers offer quality shopping experiences to their international customer bases and encourage sales.
Liz Elting is Co-Founder and Co-CEO of TransPerfect, the world’s largest privately held provider of language and business services. Elting oversees the day-to-day operations of the company, headquartered in New York City.