Making the leap from being an English language-only online business to selling in multiple languages can be daunting, but it’s by far the fastest and most cost-effective way to massively expand your customer base. If you have the infrastructure to sell directly to consumers in China or Spanish-speaking countries, why not do it? All you need are versions of your existing e-commerce site designed and translated for those audiences — and the ability to communicate with customers in those languages. Advances in translation technology can make that a whole lot easier than you might imagine.
What Are the First Steps?
The first thing you’ll need in order to sell in a foreign language market is a website in that country’s language. For your customer-facing, on-brand pages, you’ll want to use a professional translator with copywriting experience. This person must know how to translate your carefully crafted copy into the target language while maintaining its tone, subtext and emphasis.
The Intricacies of Translating and Localizing Your Content
There are also cultural aspects to consider when preparing your website for a foreign market. This is all part of a process known as localization, where copy is transformed not just in language, but also in its cultural context. For example, an article written in U.S. English with specific references to U.S. cultural traits will jar if it’s presented to an English speaker in the U.K. or Australia. The same goes for every regional culture. If you want your brand to speak effectively to consumers, you need a translator (ideally a native) who understands that culture and the craft of copywriting.
Making sure your website is optimized for the most-searched Google terms (or whichever search engine reigns supreme in that particular country) is absolutely vital for shoppers to find your site through organic search. All it takes is a bit of local knowledge and research, and a copywriter with experience in weaving keywords into their copy.
The next step is to be able to communicate with your customers once they start buying, and that’s where you can start automating things and making some savings.
How to Translate: Human or Machine Translation?
So your translated website is starting to generate sales from foreign language-speaking customers, but you don’t have the scale to employ an entire customer service team in every country. That’s where post-edited machine translation (PEMT) comes in, integrated with your website using an application programming interface (API).
A translation API can connect the content on your website and online communications platforms with a translation management platform. PEMT reduces your costs while minimizing the risk of low-quality translation. Think of PEMT as being like Google Translate, but with a human there to keep an eye on quality and filter out any missteps. A machine translation engine can also be trained in your particular vertical, so it recognizes industry-specific terms and gets more efficient the more it’s used.
This level of translation can be used for everything from translating constantly changing product descriptions on your site’s product pages to customer service emails and even social media messages. As anyone who has used free online translation tools knows, a straight word-for-word dictionary translation will rarely yield quality results. Therefore, it’s a good idea to have a professional human translator in the equation to monitor content. It’s like the U.S. Department of Labor reported: “It is seldom, if ever, sufficient to use machine translation without having a human who is trained in translation available to review and correct the translation to ensure that it is conveying the intended message.”
How Does Machine Translation Work?
The API whisks your content away to be professionally or machine translated — you choose. A light PEMT service might involve a translator in that language checking the content for any errors, while full PEMT involves a translator with background and training in your specific sector carefully checking the copy to make sure that the machine translation is correct in its terminology, style, grammar and tone.
An automated translation service like this is much more efficient and less expensive than the process of sourcing a translator, sending them the file and waiting for an original translation to come back.
You’ll still want professional human translators trained in copywriting to create your landing page content and marketing materials, but for quick communication between languages, a translation API using PEMT makes selling online to foreign language markets cost effective, quick and simpler than ever before.
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