Increased globalisation has presented brands with huge opportunities to expand into new markets and the internet has drastically lowered the barriers to entry.
This has resulted in increased global competition. So brands need to ensure that their multi-language websites are properly localised in order to succeed internationally.
I regularly advise clients on the best approaches to website localisation in various different regions around the world, and perhaps because of this, I can’t help but analyse the websites that I come across to see how well they are localised for their target markets.
In this article, I’ve identified some critical success factors to site localisation and highlighted some sites that, at least in my opinion, do it particularly well.
Giovanna Chirri, the reporter who broke the news of the Pope’s resignation, got the scoop ahead of other journalists because she understood the Latin in which the Pope made his announcement. She tweeted the news as others waited for the official translations to come from the Vatican.
Of course, this was an exceptional set of circumstances. I doubt there will be a sudden rush on Latin text books. But it does illustrate a point: to be understood by an audience, you must speak the same language.
English is the world’s most spoken language, and the language that has become the default for global businesses. It’s usually the starting point for campaigns both online and offline.
But while English is the most spoken language online, it only accounts for a quarter of all social content.
Compiling our International Guide to Social Media has led us to some very strange places in social networks.
None more so than when exploring the most popular YouTube sites in Russia. For those who’d like to know, the third most popular Russian YouTube channel is guns and explosives channel Dmitri, with an unbelievable 478 million views, and 2.7 million subscribers (and rising every day).
Last year saw the biggest ever trade delegation from the UK to India, as British businesses seek to capitalise on the growing Indian business market.
According to reports, the UK invests almost £9bn in India. In turn, India invests around £800m in the UK (almost double what it invests in the rest of Europe).
As a result of this booming economy, India’s digital market is growing fast. Currently, around 121m of India’s 1.2 billion people are online – a relatively small number proportionately, but 2012 is set for an explosion in internet growth, driven mostly by mobile.
India has a reported 700m mobile subscribers, with around 200,000 being added each day (many in rural areas).
The opportunity for social brands to capitalise on this boom is huge, if they get it right.
US internet retailers are more likely than their UK counterparts to target Brazilian and Chinese markets in the next year.
However, all agree that use of social media networks and website translations are fundamentally important tools for making progress into international e-commerce markets.
After attending two events, most recently the IRCE in Chicago, USA and the IRX in Birmingham, UK back in March, I found several crucial differences in the way that companies in the US and UK were approaching the various international retail markets.
William Hague’s recent call to British business leaders to ‘stop complaining’, ‘work harder’, and ‘get on a plane’ to find growth opportunities has angered some business leaders.
But an increasing number of UK retailers are discovering new markets abroad without getting on a plane. E-commerce, adapted websites and well-executed international internet marketing programmes are seeing UK business selling to Europe and beyond while keeping the business firmly rooted in home soil.
We’re nothing if not resourceful in the UK. While high street sales may be dropping, a number of UK-based retailers are marketing themselves abroad, yet keeping the business (and product fulfilment) on UK shores.
Scottish brand Lyle & Scott, for example, has expanding markets in France, Germany and Sweden through e-commerce sites designed for those markets, while managing the business from its home in Selkirk.