Why Your Business Website Needs to Be Translated

languageIt is no secret that the more markets you reach, the bigger your business becomes; and the more targeted your marketing efforts are, the bigger your impact is on your target audience. Today, because more and more businesses are realizing the value of social media, they recognize that they cannot survive without a website.

A virtual representation of your company is a necessity: people look for you in search engines more than in the malls or on signboards while driving around town. Furthermore, a website and social media can be easier to manage and maintain than conventional advertising tools.  Without question, today’s generation of young people are comfortable and skilled with web tools and expect nothing less than instant information.

Though many people may take it for granted or assume automatically that everyone can understand English, the fact is that most of the people in the world are still more comfortable browsing the net in their native language. If you plan to reach a global audience and expand your market to as many people around the world as possible, you need to get your website translated. But do not make it a word-for-word or literal translation the way some automated programs on the Internet do. Instead, you should make it as targeted as you can, specific to the context of the country you are trying to get your message across to.

Make the marketing messages, the ads, the photo captions, and even the videos palatable to their tastes and traditions. Because specific words have their own cultural connotations, the direct translation from English to Portuguese, for example, may strike a different chord from the intended effect. Instead, find the right word to convey the same message to the culturally different listener or reader. This is a skill that a person from a professional translation service has because he is expert enough in both languages to avoid unfortunate language choices that may offend potential customers.

The process of localization—adjusting the look and feel of a product so that it appeals to the target audience—is an important part of going global. Imagine that you want to use a particular advertising feature in a new foreign market that perfectly projects your message and suits your needs, but you resort to a  mechanical translation that offends or insults your potential customers or presents your product in an unfortunate or inaccurate manner.  Manish Bhargava, Product Manager at Google, gave a good example of such a case. When Google provided the Swedish translation for Google Maps, the icon “Get Directions” was translated to a Swedish word that meant “Instructions.”

As is common with mechanical translations, this word isn’t entirely incorrect, but it didn’t serve the purpose or convey the exact meaning it was supposed to. A native English speaker would understand why “Instructions” is not as accurate as “Get Directions” in a situation when you resort to Google Maps. As an indication why precise, culturally-specific language is essential to profitable business, Google theorizes that this translation resulted in the Swedes not using Google Maps as much as Google projected.

Bhargava also focuses on how much of the market you may miss if you do not globalize or if you think that the English-speaking market is adequate for growth in today’s world. In fact, Bhargava estimates that missed sales opportunities may mount as high as 86%. Furthermore, as illustrated in the example above, if you are careless or sloppy in translation, you will waste your time and fail to achieve your business goals. Thus accurate, nuanced translation is essential.  Employing a professional translation service for your website can give you the value that you demand and the market shares that you initially just dream about.

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