Interactive Trends - Multilingual Websites

By Erin Green

The phrase, "you need to speak your client's language" was coined many years ago and usually means that it's important to understand your client and to present ideas to them on their terms. In the past 20 years we've seen a revolution in the way the world does business and people across the globe connect. More and more we find that the colloquialism about speaking your client's language now means just what it says that you need to communicate to them in their language of choice.

The obvious reason to have a multilingual website and marketing communication is that if someone doesn't speak English they can't very well buy your product or service. The reasons go much deeper than that.

When the internet began most of the user base was English speaking so all the content was produced in English. The rest of the world has been quickly catching up making their own content and producing whole other areas of the web in other languages. China, India and the multitude of Spanish speaking nations are all rapidly expanding into the internet. This means that one day soon English won't even be the predominate language online.

The next reason to do this is that your competition probably isn't. There are huge untapped markets to be claimed and much of the competition doesn't have it on their radar. Alternately, if you look at your competition and they have multilingual communication and you don't that is a big indicator that they've found something worthwhile to pursue.

Many other countries have their own versions of search engines. If you were to travel to China and hook up your laptop you'd see Google China and the same for most other major countries. If you want to be found for the term "widgets" it will pay in spades to have pages that promote the word "widget" in the top world languages.

Even if your company isn't largely interested in pursuing international business at this point don't be fooled. Every region has a significant and growing user base. Some of the most common languages are Chinese, Spanish, Korean and Hindi.

A multilingual website and related marketing communication is a huge boon to your company image and branding. Multilingualism shows cultural awareness, sophistication and above all a care for the customer.

If you've been pondering how to "speak your customer's language" you might want to start with the obvious and version your site into common languages relevant to your market. The problem isn't whether you should or should not do this but when you'll have to do it. The problem to solve is do you want your business to be ahead of the curve or not.

Erin Anjolie Green is a marketing specialist at Plonka Interactive. She works with clients to understand their needs and develops solutions to overcome their challenges. Plonka is known for Marketing, Creative and Technology with a focus on software development and custom web applications.

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