German Chancellor Willy Brandt once said, "If I am selling to you, I speak your language. If I am buying from you, dann müssen Sie in meiner Sprache sprechen." (Translation: then you must speak my language.)
Recent studies have shown that Internet users rely on their native-language version of Web sites to perform most tasks. Just consider: Would you buy a computer from Dell's Japanese site?
Local-language content can help deliver a more culturally relevant experience to your site visitors. It not only optimizes the selling of products and services but also contributes to an organization's bottom line in various ways.
Here are five ways you can generate revenue and reduce costs by having local content:
1. The global Web is the most affordable, hardest-working sales force you will ever put together
"The key difference between commerce and e-commerce is that commerce is selling with people and e-commerce is selling with content," articulates Gerry McGovern in his landmark book Content Critical. An information-rich, well-published global Web site sells your products and service to potential clients around the world in their native language, 24/7.
2. The global Web helps you save on support costs
Every Web globalization guru has this golden rule in their advice book: You should be prepared to support the markets that you sell to. Depending on the scale of your business, hiring support workers who speak the languages of your markets may be unavoidable. But how much you can use the Web to reduce support cost will be the differentiator between a profitable business and money-losing one.
3. The global Web with local content brings you local presence
Major search engines such as Google or Yahoo gives strong preference to Web sites with local language content. For example, without German content, the chance of your site showing up in Google.de is next to nil. Having translated or original local content buys an admission ticket to the local search results. For any company that operates on the Internet or wishes to strengthen brand awareness locally, the admission ticket is worth having.
4. The global Web facilitates innovation and learning by delivering training to corners of the world that physical classrooms cannot reach
Learning is a necessity, not a luxury, in today's competitive environment. As more organizations become increasingly scattered physically, classroom teaching is not always practical. The global Web delivers valuable material to those in need, in a language they can understand, at a time when they are available and willing to learn.
5. The global Web helps build corporate culture
The content of your Web site speaks volumes about the diversity of your organization, philosophy and work atmosphere. As North American society becomes much more multicultural, your organization's ability to attract top-notch ethnic talent becomes the "new frontier." How you fare on that frontier depends largely on your ability to understand your new audience and speak their language.
The global Web is the greatest driving force of new business opportunities today. Those who realize its full impact and learn how to use it will prosper. Those who don't... will perish.
Huiping Iler is a native of China and now lives in Canada. She operates WTB Language Group Inc.
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