English is an official language in over 50 countries. By having a website in English you have an advantage over websites that are not in English as their first language. Customers will buy from your site even if it is not in their native language, if they understand basic English.
Some large western internet markets are in English and can be sold into directly – mainly USA, UK, Canada, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand. Most European countries are happy to buy from an English-based website that acknowledges their requirements (such as returns) and that is clear on shipping policies.
Note that conversion rates will be significantly less than an IRP in their native language.
On an international scale, it is a fact that there is a real barrier to entry for websites that are not in the native language. Some markets remain very difficult to enter if your site is in one language only. This is primarily for two reasons:
- You cannot attract TRAFFIC to your site because you are not appearing in these markets for search terms that are in a different language or in any of their channels. For example, you are bidding on words in English that are simply never typed by customers in these countries.
- When you do get TRAFFIC from one of these markets, your site does not convert any of the TRAFFIC to SALES.
The expense of this, and the high CPA% means that these markets are not profitable. For these reasons, Translations in the IRP are a key way to break down the barriers to getting TRAFFIC and CONVERTING sales.
Prior to Translations, providing clear information on your IRP site regarding Delivery and Returns and showing that you deal with customers from the target country is essential – otherwise translations will not be as effective as they should be.
You should then carry out analysis to formulate the Translations strategy. You should tailor this to starting with the language that has most potential to bring in sales e.g. German.
Getting Started on your IRP
Due to the size of a Translation project, Translations are often carried out in steps, working down through each systematically as you gain traction in sales. The language can be switched on in advance of everything being completed. Where a translation is missing, it will show in English.
- The first thing to do is to translate key Banner Messaging and Shipping Messaging into the language of the target countries. This lets the customer know quickly that you acknowledge that they are operating in a different language.
- Update all the Small Translation Data – this ensures that all the snippets of information on a site are correct.
- Translate the Custom Content and Large Translation pages and even amend the content for the countries you are targeting.
When these actions are complete, it is time to consider the translation of the Product Information.
Translating your Product Information
Product information can be a large piece of work and it is key to tackle this in a systematic way. The sequence of how you translate is important and will dictate the amount of early sales that you will achieve.
- The first part of an IRP site to translate are the Categories. The reason for this is that they are involved in the distribution of information to outside systems (such as feeds to Google, etc.) and they are also involved in the internal search on the website. By translating categories, you can achieve initial quick wins.
- Next you should move on to products that you believe will sell best in the target market. You can access the product sales from the Statistics section of the IRP. If you have large numbers of products, it is essential to translate the ones that are likely to sell – starting with SalesRank 1 to the country and moving downwards through the list.
- Subsequent to Model Descriptions, you should translate all of the associated other product information.
It is possible to gain some traction through machine translation, directly from Google, Bing or a specialised company that machine-translates in a structured way for your dataset. This might work best for information such as Model Descriptions. However core elements such as Categories are best translated individually to ensure that they are correct.
- Translations are a core part of international selling and the IRP has a world class toolkit. However, it does take time and organisation to get there.
- It is often worth maximising international sales with strong country messaging before moving on to the full translation of a site into a new language.
- If real traction happens in a foreign country, it is important to provide some level of customer service in that language.
- That being said, basic machine translation often goes a long way in modern email communication.