Is translation optional? Not if you’re determined to succeed. And if you want your business to actually grow, you have even more reasons to mind your language(s). This brief explains why translation is mission-critical for the success of any company that does business across borders or targets customers within its own domestic multicultural market. If you don’t invest in translation, you can’t reap the benefits, but chances are that your competitors will.
The Bottom Line and How Translation Boosts It
Our research repeatedly shows that translation enables companies to expand their customer base and increase revenue:
- Translation gives you access to more customers. Many customers simply won’t buy your products unless you market to them in their language. How many are you missing? Our study showed that 72.1% of international consumers spend most or all of their time on sites in their own language. The 11 languages that allow you to reach 85% of the world’s online wallet are English, Simplified Chinese, Spanish, Japanese, Portuguese, German, Arabic, French, Russian, Korean, and Italian. And each language you add takes you further into any market where it’s spoken.
- Translation unlocks global revenue from those customers. Overall economic growth has stalled in North American and Western European markets. As a result, companies headquartered in those regions are finding it a requirement, rather than an option, to offer additional localized versions of their products and services as quickly as possible in order to attract customers with rising incomes in emerging and frontier markets. Are you one of the many firms reporting decreasing domestic profits, while your global revenue is climbing upward? If not, you better find out why.
- Translation enhances your existing market presence – even at home. Do you own 100% of any market that you’re already in today? Doubtful. But you can get closer to penetrating the markets you’re already in by adding more languages. Even just one language – such as Spanish in the United States, Polish in the United Kingdom, or Turkish in Germany – can help you reach customers in the locations in which you’re already spending marketing dollars, making that money go even further.
- Translation costs very little. Your investment in languages will be insignificant compared to the international revenue it will enable. After all, the average cost per word to create original content is US$0.65, while the average cost per word for translated content is only US$0.10. Your financial and procurement teams will be on-board once they recognize that millions of dollars of additional income can be generated through a very minimal investment.
- Translation doesn’t have to be difficult. If you’re concerned about losing control of your content when it moves into other languages, rest assured that there are professionals out there to help you. Recruit the talent you need to build a great translation team from a vast team of professionals in this $26 billion industry. Or outsource the function to professional language service providers (LSPs). The bottom line is that there is no reason to reinvent the wheel – plenty of companies (including competitors) have already learned the most painful lessons on your behalf.
- Translation makes it easier to win against competitors. You can leverage your investment in global markets based on a defensive or offensive strategy. Either way, the goal is to prevent challengers from dominating markets that could have a negative effect on sales, revenue, or overall brand perception in other markets, including the one at home.
- Translation provides your brand with a consistent voice. Over the last decade especially, firms have learned that consistent branding with local flavor represents a corporate asset with a hard dollar value. It now requires at least 16 languages if you want to be among the best at remaining competitive online.
- Translation allows you to protect and enhance your global reputation. If your organization is not set up to implement every product or service launch around the world, then you risk relinquishing control to your customers. With machine translation readily available for many languages, people buy, write reviews, and provide feedback on your offerings whether or not you officially launch in their market.
- Translation is often required by local markets anyway. You may be barred from selling your product or service unless it has been translated, and perhaps even adapted to meet local business requirements, in countries that have language compliance laws such as Belgium and Canada. Similar rules will apply for regulated industries such as energy, financial services, life sciences, telecommunications, and utilities. And even if you’re not in a regulated field, you may be required to translate in order to support customers who are.
- Translation is simply what smart executives do. It’s not enough for you to merely mandate that your company be #1 in its top five markets around the world. To be able to earn globally over time, you must invest consistently in local markets and the internal teams to support them (see “The Global Business Leadership Manifesto,” Mar11). The key is to create a global presence through building many strong, local presences, which includes delivering and supporting products in the right languages that are adapted to the right level.
English may be the language of business, but it’s not the language of your local consumers. The demand for language directions such as Zulu<>Chinese and Turkish<>Chinese is increasing as new trading agreements are established. According to the International Monetary Fund, Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa (BRICS) alone will account for as much as 61% of global growth over the next three years. Currently, these five countries comprise 42% of the world’s population and 18% of its GDP. And right behind them are Indonesia, Mexico, and Turkey as fast-growing economies with middle classes whose purse strings are loosening and whose wallets are expanding. Now is the time to put your international business strategy in order, supported by an appropriate translation plan, to allow your team to support local prospects and customers according to their expectations.
Verztec is a leading ISO 9001:2008 Global Content Consulting Services Company. Verztec assists companies around the world to design, develop, localize and publish their global communication messages in over 60 languages across various channels. For more information as to how Verztec may partner and assist in your next localization project, kindly contact us at email@example.com or call +65 6577 4646 now!
*Sources: Why Smart Companies Invest in Translation: 1 January 2012 by Common Sense Advisory, Inc.