When people think about building a website or starting an online business, translation and localization strategies may not be among the first things that they think about. Back in the nineteen-nineties, this may have been understandable, but given the recent changes in the world, it is now an important part of every successful online strategy. Why?

Both translation and localization strategies help the website owner to expand their markets, their brand, and their potential for success. Translation services are necessary to speak to the audience in their own languages. It may be better to hire a translation company for this purpose. It can be tempting to use a friend to handle the website translation services, but a poor document translation may cause a loss of e-commerce customers. This is also why localization services need to be included as part of the overall website translation. 

Localization is important, but should also focus on the scale in regards to the e-commerce website translation. The larger the scale and the potential audience, the more general the translation and localization services should focus.

The smaller and more precise the advertising and the audience, the more focused and precise the translation and localization services must be to create an emotional and personal response from the audience. Localization should assist you in making your e-commerce website and online sales more effective and more profitable because of the increased ability to target the markets from a more local perspective.

Here then, are some of the top tips for the planning and implementation of an international e-commerce expansion using both localization and translation services. 

Localization Strategies

Translation and Localization During the COVID-19 Pandemic 

According to Statista, e-commerce sales have risen across many different industries. In France, e-commerce sales for groceries have seen increases as high as ninety percent in e-commerce sales. In Brazil, health items purchased from e-commerce sites have increased over one hundred and twenty percent with overall e-commerce sales increasing by more than forty percent since the global Covid-19 pandemic began. 

The Associated Press reported on the seventh of April, 2020, that “The COVID-19 crisis is driving the global growth of e-commerce sales, with millions of consumers worldwide in quarantine shopping for goods, services, and entertainment online. Transaction volumes in most retail sectors have seen a 74 percent rise in March compared to the same period last year, while online gaming has seen a staggering increase of 97 percent.”

It really does not matter what type of e-commerce website solutions you are thinking about starting. With e-commerce sales increasing at forty or more percent, the time is right for starting an e-commerce website today. Translation services and localization strategies, when properly implemented, just open you up to a wider audience, a bigger share of the market, and a larger increase in e-commerce sales. 

Become an Expert with International Marketing

In some cases, it will be necessary to create an international business plan, or at the very least, an international marketing plan. If you will need a physical presence where you plan on expanding, you need to check the local laws. If everything will be done from your location, an international marketing plan should be sufficient. 

In some cases, e-commerce sales may be for digital products that do not require any special consideration, even in foreign markets. In some locations, it may be that such sales will impose tax liabilities on the e-commerce marketer. Thus, the first and most important step is going to be knowing the tax laws anywhere you are planning to expand your e-commerce offerings online. 

The second step may require a little more research. This is especially true for some people who sell informational products online, YouTube, and other social media influencers and even those setting up e-commerce solutions for affiliate marketing. There should be a viable market where you hope to expand and a need that your products or services will fulfill. 

According to an August 2019 report on the financial website, the Motley Fool, these are the top e-commerce businesses in the world

  • Alibaba $768 Billion US Dollars
  • Amazon $239 Billion US Dollars
  • JD.Com $215 Billion US Dollars
  • eBay $93 Billion US Dollars
  • Shopify $33 Billion US Dollars
  • Rakuten $31 Billion US Dollars
  • Walmart $19 Billion US Dollars

Does that mean that you are going to become a billionaire overnight? No. What it does mean, or at least what it does indicate is, that none of these companies have built up their e-commerce empires without first having done their research and translating that research into international e-commerce success. Once the research has been completed, internationalization through both translation services and localization strategies should begin in earnest. 

Translation and Localization for Video Marketing Success

One of the first steps for any e-commerce solution online should be a concerted effort to create a video marketing campaign. There are two points about video marketing that should always be remembered. 

Over eighty-percent of Facebook, videos are watched without sound, as are many on YouTube. YouTube also happens to be the second or third largest search engine, though this depends on how much traffic the search engine on Amazon gets on any given day. What does this mean for your video marketing campaign? How do you use that information to increase your visibility and e-commerce success? 

Video translation and transcription services are a must for a successful video marketing campaign. There are a number of video editing software programs that will automatically insert subtitles, but that is rarely the best choice. 

The subtitles are hard-coded into the video meaning they will inevitably block some of the screens even if the viewer wants to turn them off. Transcription services for closed captioning provide a much better and more valuable solution. 

Not only does the viewer have the option to turn off the closed captions, but in those instances when they do watch with the audio turned off, they can turn them on again just as easily. Video translation and transcription services also allow for the easy creation of srt files or closed captions that are available in a number of different languages, allowing the video to be viewed with a much wider audience. But wait! There’s more! 

YouTube is the second most popular website on the internet, lagging only slightly behind Google according to the Alexa rankings. Remember how we told you that YouTube is the second or third largest search engine in the world? Srt files get indexed on all of the search engines, including both Google and YouTube. What does that mean for your video marketing campaign?

What it means is that now your video ranks for substantially more keywords, because literally every word within the srt closed captioning files has been indexed on all of the major search engines. Your video promotions will now be more readily found on Google, YouTube, and the other major search engines, leading to an increase in organic traffic to your video marketing campaign. 

YouTube does offer automated closed captioning, but even Wired Magazine noted that it leaves much to be desired. Now, since you have also been paying attention, and hired a certified video translator to generate srt files in all of the relevant languages, you now rank for even more keywords in all of the languages used. But wait. There is still more! 
What? Did you think that was all? The inclusion of closed captioning also has been shown to increase viewer interactions, including an increased number of views, likes, shares, and even comments. The use of video translation and transcription services worked to create an increase in organic (read: FREE) traffic for video marketing, but it also increased the number of shares, comments, and other opportunities to interact directly with the potential customer base.

6 Top Translation and Localization Strategies for Int'l eCommerce 1
Image Source TechMagnate.com

Translation and Localization for Multi Purposing Content 

There will inevitably be some readers who are trying to break into the e-commerce market because they are poor or out of work and cannot afford expensive e-commerce and other software solutions. This will become increasingly common as the full impact of the current global crisis becomes more prevalent and more people are forced to find work online. 

These people will have to be creative and find shortcuts to creating effective videos and other marketing materials on a very limited budget. Once again though, properly implemented translation and localization strategies can help to carry the day through a process known as “repurposing” content. 

Repurposing content allows for the same content to be used in different mediums or different formats. Virtually any article can be turned into a podcast. Some of the sites that allow for the podcast to be posted, will also allow for a transcription of the podcast to be posted as well, again, increasing the ranking for the keywords and increasing organic traffic. 

Even for someone lacking any real video equipment, it is still possible to turn an article into a slideshow and post that as a video on YouTube or Facebook or any of the other major video websites. Again, video translation and transcription services can be used to create an instant “smorgasbord” of keywords, helping the video content to rank for the relevant keywords across numerous languages.

How to Master Translation, Localization, and Scale

The larger and more vague the market, the more general the translation may be. The more focused the material, the more precise and localized the translation should be. Let us take a look at a simple example.

A cooking website focusing on the entire world, though written in English, may reference “pizza”. Localization comes into play here as in most of the world, pizza is common. This may hold true for the more general portion of the website. However, geographically localized advertisements with Google Ads running in the Northeastern portion of the US may focus on “Pizza Pie” rather than just pizza. 

Other ads based on Google trends may focus on the different types of pizza such as pepperoni or cheese based on their prevalence in certain areas. Not only is the local vernacular studied, but so are the preferences, trends, and general culture of any given area. This advertisement in some markets may focus on gluten-free crusts or vegan pizzas, again depending on what is more prominent in a given location. 

The job of the e-commerce website is to draw in a large viewership as possible. It may be possible and even tempting to use IP Gateways to send people to a specific area of their site in “their” language. Given the prevalence of IP masks and VPNs, this may actually prove to be more detrimental than beneficial.

Website translation services are a much better solution, allowing for conspicuous but not distracting options to be strategically placed within the e-commerce website design, pointing people to other website language options. The e-commerce website can serve to capture leads which then gives the online entrepreneur an opportunity to glean more useful information from their viewers, including preferences for language.

The idea of translating Spanish into Spanish or English into English may sound odd. Still, the English spoken in the United States is very different from that spoken in the United Kingdom. The Portuguese that is common in West Africa are different from those spoken in Brazil, which is itself different from that spoken in Portugal. 

Localization is also part of the website and content translation process. Using Spanish as an example here, the e-commerce translation and localization process may look something like this: 

  • Website Translation – Focused on basic Spanish, irrespective of linguistic variations (Likely Latin American Spanish as it has the largest volume of native speakers)
  • Localization and Email Marketing – Focused on regional or domestic “dialects” of the parent Language; thus localization and translation would need to have Spanish newsletters using Castilian or the Spanish common to Spain, Latin-American Spanish, common in Central and South America, and Caribbean Spanish, as spoken through some portions of South America and the Caribbean 

This is also where localization must begin to recognize social, cultural, and historical factors in addition to the translation. The importance of the research cannot be overstated. The use of social factors including sources of pride and avoiding taboos can greatly enhance the ability of the e-commerce website owner to elicit a positive emotional reaction from their target demographic. 

These emotional responses are key to a successful marketing campaign and can be used to generate trust and confidence and help to increase the positive response rate. The use of local vernacular, expressions common among the target demographic, and even cultural and historical sources of pride can be used to generate a positive emotional response. 

The research should also look at any potential taboos. Taboos should be avoided in all marketing efforts so as not to endanger any marketing or advertising campaign, even if they may be the point of joking in other areas of the nation. 

  • Domestic Advertising with localization – The domestic ads would use localization the same as the newsletter and email marketing, based on the more general domestic (or national) language translations
  • Geographically localized advertising – Localization at the micro-level is where more specific localization strategies as noted above will play an important role.

Why Now Is the Time to Start Your Localization Strategies 

The current global medical crisis underway at the time of this writing is bad enough in its own right. However, the economic picture it has painted looks even bleaker. Conversely, the internet economy may continue to reign in terms of economic growth, making an online presence necessary for virtually any business. 

The increased growth rates of e-commerce solutions and the enhanced volume of online business make e-commerce solutions online a venture worthy of pursuit. However, the number of people being driven to the internet for work, shopping, and other activities likely mean that the competition will soon become much more fierce and challenging. 

There is no time like the present to get into the e-commerce markets online. Translation services and localization strategies, when properly planned and executed, will help you to ensure success with your e-commerce website.