By Charles Whiteman
SVP of Client Services, MotionPoint
As companies expand into new global markets using conventional websites, mobile sites, mobile apps and other digital channels, the role of translation has become more important than ever. Companies that refuse to offer their products and services in a market’s preferred language are missing one of the most powerful ways to engage their new customers.
But for brand-sensitive companies, this greater dependence on translation often comes with a greater need for great translations.
These days, global customers expect content that’s just as confident, artful and alluring as what’s available in larger English-dominant markets. This demands a tricky balance of expertise, passion and practicality for companies and translators—but this combination often generates more website traffic, conversions and revenue.
Such “brand-perfect” translations need not be used on all pages of a global website (for instance, an e-commerce site’s product description copy can keep its nuts-and-bolts tone post-translation), but artfully-written text such as promotional copy, or copywriting capturing a company’s verve and ethos deserves a more nuanced approach.
The ultimate goal is to provide global consumers with content that delights and persuades.
My company provides globalization solutions for hundreds of brand-sensitive companies around the world. We’ve seen how resonant translations can make a measurable—and profitable—difference for companies in global markets. Here are two examples.
We recently helped a leading U.S.-based quick service restaurant chain improve its website translations to better represent its family-friendly brand—and to improve the site’s sales performance.
This chain savvily serves the Spanish-speaking segment of the U.S. market with a Spanish-language website. But customers were experiencing a disconnect because the translations were in a “formal” tone—a far cry from the upbeat casual voice the brand used on its English site.
We shifted these translations from formal to informal—a process that affects verb conjugation and many other factors—to create a brand-consistent, friendly user experience. Within 90 days, these brand-perfect translations were generating results for the Spanish site:
- Bounce rate down 2%
- Customer time on-site up 8%
- Page views up 11%
- Conversion rate up 6%
The takeaway is clear: much like a company’s primary-market website (often published in English) companies must present translated content that engages audiences on a personal level, when appropriate. Don’t skimp on this stuff.
Cultural Nuance Matters
We also helped an international airline present its promotional offers in more culturally-authentic ways to Korean customers. When we noticed the company’s Korean site wasn’t generating expected sales, we took a closer linguistic look at the site’s translations.
We quickly zeroed in on the key issue: the homepage’s prominent-displayed promotions on flight deals and frequent-flier perks didn’t “feel” like they’d been crafted by native copywriters. Lacking a certain verve, the translated text felt … well … translated.
We quickly got to work improving these translations from a creative perspective—and also from another, more nuanced perspective. See, Korean airline websites often feature more text and details in their promotional imagery than what Western consumers are accustomed to seeing. While “less is more” is often good copywriting advice for other markets, Korean consumers have different expectations. An absence of such details creates a kind of disconnect, and undermines a promotion’s effectiveness.
After we implemented our improvements, the site’s performance improved. Homepage promo click-throughs rose by an average of 15%. Checkouts increased by an average of 44%. One promotion saw a 30% jump in clicks and 69% increase in checkouts.
Presenting culturally-appropriate, brand-perfect translations made all the difference. A commitment to this kind of translation quality and nuance really resonates with global consumers—particularly online and in mobile apps.