Localization – A step beyond translation
We have discussed the importance of using not only the correct language, but also relevant terms and colloquialisms when translating a site for SEO purposes; however, there is more to localization than language alone. Big and small localization changes can have a drastic impact on establishing trust and how you are perceived by your target audience, as well as gaining visibility. This is the reason why localization to further enhance your customers’ experience whilst they are on your website is key to any international digital campaign.
In this article, we discuss the importance of imagery, customer services, payment methods and calls to action.
Use of imagery
When targeting an ethnically different or more diverse market, it is best practice to ensure that images are tailored accordingly. Localizing imagery properly goes much deeper than this. It is important to remember that behavior varies too. For example, in the US, a typical business photo might include suited men punching the air with their fist in victory whereas in France this would be wholly inappropriate and misunderstood.
Here is a US landing page:
In France, where it would be inappropriate to “celebrate” in the office, the landing page looks like this:
Pictures that are clearly US-centric may not work in more reserved European markets and could damage your credibility so careful consideration should be paid to selecting culturally appropriate media.
When expanding overseas, it is vital to consider all necessary resources for this, including customer services. If a customer is required to liaise with a service team which cannot support them in their native language, then this will diminish trust. The customer may feel that the business is not taking the overseas market seriously, and concerns may be raised over how much your brand can be relied upon. Furthermore, with customer services, there’s the consideration of technology. With instant communication becoming ever more the norm, customer services via social media accounts, as well as instant messaging tools (as is common within China), need to be in place and ready to deliver localized customer support.
If a customer cannot access the payment method of their choice, then trust and purchasing intent can be instantly damaged and it is likely they will abandon the purchase. It will signal to a customer that a business is not fully knowledgeable about the market they’re in, giving already established and local competitors an advantage.
In Japan, it was revealed that 73.7% of people would leave an online shop if their preferred payment method was not available. (1)"
With a wide range of different payment methods expected in Japan, such as the deferred payment option via convenience stores like 7Eleven, as well as via banks or post offices, it is highly beneficial to be aware of these preferences, in order not to miss out on any sales.
In Germany, the use of debit and credit cards is not as common practice compared to the UK. This is also a reason why payment systems such as PayPal are not as wide-spread in Germany as in the UK. For example, ASOS’s German website uses Klarna, a payment provider service which does not charge the customer until after delivery. In order to make a purchase, the customer only needs to enter their email address. The sellers don’t lose out as Klarna pays the business upfront and then recoups the cost from the customer later.
ASOS' UK homepage:
ASOS' German homepage:
Calls to action
Different markets require different calls to action. The UK and US for example, are more accustomed to strong and persistent calls to action whereas in France people prefer subtler action indicators around providing further information. Localizing your calls to action market by market is therefore of the utmost importance in order to ensure you gain the most out of your investment in all the markets you are present in.
In the below examples Hugo Boss uses "Buy Now!" in its UK PPC ad as a very direct call to action whereas the French advert uses "Commandez Ici", which is much softer, translating as "order here".
Localize or prepare to miss out
When a customer has to choose between a fully localized site and a non-localized site selling the same thing, those companies who have failed to pay attention to making the customer feel ‘at home’ are likely to lose out financially. As an example, after many years of servicing their Mexico audience through their US website, Amazon has now decided to develop a website purely for Mexico, which will make customer transactions with Amazon cheaper for the Mexican audience and build stronger trust for Amazon’s brand in this market. For more information on localization and its intricacies,
For more information on localization and its intricacies, check out our overview of Germany and Austria, which shows that you shouldn’t treat two markets the same even when they speak the same language.
Find out next week how to optimize your site effectively for international markets with best practice SEO tactics.