Your company only has a domestic presence, and if English is the primary language of your country there may be a belief that translation is not needed. However there are some important considerations before making a default assumption.
Even if your company does not have international marketing targets or does not do business in other countries – there are consumers who may prefer materials in other languages even in a primarily English speaking country.
Who is using your equipment, service or product? Though the customer’s company may do business in English, critical safety and support information may be required in another language for the operator or end user. Your company’s reputation could be affected and legal implications could arise from improper usage due to language barriers.
In the Unites States there are at least 350 languages spoken according to the Census Bureau. Spanish is the most popular language after English but there are also a large number of German, Chinese and French speakers.
The Common Sense Advisory, a market research company based in Massachusetts, polled 3,002 consumers in 10 countries in their languages to test the hypothesis that companies can increase their sales by localizing their products and websites. According to the report, the “survey found a substantial preference for the consumer’s mother tongue. This partiality leads many potential prospects unsure of their reading skills to avoid English-language websites, spend less time during their visits, and not buy products that lack instructions or post-sales customer support in their language. In summary, we found that more local-language content throughout the customer experience leads to a greater likelihood of purchase.”
Though potential clients may have offices in the US, key decision makers or their corporate headquarters could be based in other countries. Though doing business in English, do you know the native language where buying decisions are made?
Companies are going global even without a physical presence in another country. The internet takes your company around the world even if you do not seek international markets. Customers who speak other languages may have a desire and need for your product, so providing information in other languages will increase your product or service’s reach to markets and consumers you may not have even considered but are looking for exactly what you can provide.
These important considerations will help your company decide if a translation investment may be needed after all. Investment is a key word as some companies mistakenly believe free or inexpensive machine translation would suffice. It is impossible to gauge or meet a need if the materials do not make sense to the reader or are of such poor quality that it will affect your company’s reputation. As the saying goes, you never get a second chance to make a first impression.
Have you ever received product information that was obviously not written by a native speaker? How did it make you feel reading it? Frustrated? Confused? Did you feel the company valued you as a customer? Did the poorly written materials affect your perceived value or the product? Machine translation cannot replace a professional translator’s ability to correctly and clearly communicate.
If your goal is to increase web traffic and attract more customers, then providing professionally translated materials in additional languages will achieve that objective.
Terralingua is an ISO certified company that has helped many companies go global through translation and localization solutions. If expanding your company’s reach is a 2017 goal, please visit our website and use the contact form to reach our US, European or Brazilian offices.