The first reaction to the kind of numbers in the Harvard study might be a sense of panic, followed by an attempt to translate your entire website into the languages of every market you serve. Resist that urge. Instead, start by translating the core elements of your site or online store into one language.
Then, do some research and analyze visitor behavior on these new pages over the following 60 days. This will give you a solid model for whether or not you have adequately addressed the needs of your target audience. It will also give Google a chance to recrawl/reindex your site and allow you to get a sense of the comparative ranking strength of the new pages versus the old ones.
Not sure which pages to start with? Scan your Analytics account and look at the “Behavior Flow” report under the Behavior tab in your account. It will show you the routes that users most often take through your site and give you a greater sense of which pages are most important.
Changing your prices throughout your site to show the cost in the currency of the customer can make a big difference. Ideally, you would do this programmatically via a drop-down menu that allows users to choose their currency of choice. This eliminates a ton of work for the consumer and makes the online checkout process faster and easier.
Alternatively, you can use a program that automatically recognizes a visitor’s IP address to change the language and pricing throughout the site so that visitors know and understand the cost when they first see your products. This makes them more likely to want to buy and more likely to complete the purchase process
Live chat is a huge boon to online retailers. That said, if you use a live chat program on your site, you will need to be sure that you have language competent chat operators available or that you have chat disabled in areas that are more likely to have a low percentage of English speakers.
Or… you can use the strategy we have recommended to clients: Enable chat across all of your traffic and change the welcome window based on IP address or a user’s language choices. Then offer up the option for users to proceed with chat in English or to read an FAQ file in their native language. This maximizes both choice and localization.
Google is moving ever more towards recognizing and rewarding quality content. Approach your new market in the same way you approached your current market. Content marketing in the form of blogs, reports, free tools and white papers is a great way to increase organic traffic and that doesn’t change overseas.
You can start by translating and localizing your most popular English language features and, once you have established traction, move to creating market specific pieces.
This tactic meshes with your blogging and content marketing approach. Localizing your social media accounts to the new market you are entering increases both customer interaction with your brand as well as driving online traffic to your site. Ideally you want to create new accounts for your new market. But if you don’t have the time or manpower for that, you have another option at least for Facebook.
If you lack separate localized Facebook accounts, you can use the Facebook PowerEditor tool instead. With this tool, you can designate the specific language and location in which you want the post to appear. Whatever you post will only be available to users in that specific language and location. So you are basically localizing your Facebook without even needing to create a new account.
Committing to a full-blown translation and localization of your business can seem like a lot. But if you start with these smaller steps to drive traffic to your site, you can test the waters in a new market and reap the benefits.