The pandemic has fundamentally changed the way people live their daily lives. Quarantine and remote work have compelled many of us to find new ways of discovering and purchasing products and services.
And discover, we did! Consumers spent $861.12B online with US merchants in 2020, a year-over-year increase of 44% — the highest annual US e-commerce growth in the last two decades! That’s nearly triple the 15.1% increase of 2019. As a result, companies need to build experiences for their customers (and potential customers) that they can both enjoy — and understand.
The data is in the details
In a recent study by CSA Research, 76% of respondents said they are more likely to purchase a product with information in their native language over a product that doesn’t, and 65% prefer content in their own language, even if it’s poor quality. Furthermore, data from payments provider Stripe shows that 74% of e-commerce checkout pages don’t have local language translation or local payment options for international customers. Their report also shows that 90% of lost e-commerce sales come from failures on the checkout page. In today’s digitally interconnected world, those statistics are not surprising.
The volume of content associated with these interactions has also increased to cover more of those touchpoints. In fact, these digital customer interactions have accelerated at a pace we haven’t seen before. According to a McKinsey study, between December 2019 and July 2020, the average share of customer interactions that happen digitally increased globally from 36% to nearly 60%.
This shift presents companies with a challenge. Simply adding more content does not always mean that you are reaching a larger audience. Even if traditional metrics like impressions, pageviews and web traffic increase, if the language it is written in isn’t used by those particular audiences, those metrics don’t really mean anything because the content is completely inaccessible.
The customer experience
For many companies, localization has become the key to unlocking that improved global experience and growth. It’s no longer good enough to implement a one-language-fits-all strategy, or to partially translate a website and only further localize some content, or to assume that your customers and prospects will find roundabout ways to understand your content. While some content may be lower priority or require less attention to detail, a customer’s experience is a full journey – missing one area of that journey can create an entirely negative experience, resulting in lower customer satisfaction, reduced engagement, and missed sales.
Here are three tips to get started:
- Map your customer journey. How many touchpoints are there? Which languages do your customers speak at each of these touchpoints? Consult your customer-facing teams including sales, marketing, and customer success/support for insights, study your physical global footprint, or better yet, use analytics tools like Google Analytics and Adobe Analytics to see who is visiting your site.
- Understand the content you produce, the frequency with which it’s published, the systems in which that content sits, and any other considerations about the content, such as whether it’s very literal (e.g., product documentation), requires a deep understanding of your brand, tone, and voice (e.g., social media copy) or whether there are stringent regulations on what you can say (e.g., legal documents).
- Then finally, understanding that timelines, budgets, and internal resources are not infinite, stack rank your content types and languages by order of priority, and find a vendor who can provide strategic guidance on how to get started, setting up workflows that map to your business needs, and maximizing the impact of the resources you do have to actually get all of your content localized.
A deep understanding of all of the moving touchpoints, and how they fit together to deliver one comprehensive customer journey, is the only way to deliver a truly excellent global experience. Ultimately, in order for businesses to establish themselves in what is becoming a new era of global experience (post-pandemic), now more than ever before, localization is a key piece of a comprehensive strategy.