ABC’s Top three benefits of multilingual websites for online marketers

March 29, 2019

Generally understood as being the language of business, politics and the media – and qualifying as one of South Africa’s 11 official languages – English only ranks fourth out of 11 as a home language across the country. Additionally, the Africana Linguistica journal reports that Africa alone has close to 2,000 languages classified in five language families. On the battleground for engagement and conversions, online retailers need to find new ways of attracting customers and what could be more unique than providing a true multilingual, online retail experience?

When selling a product or service, you will always benefit from communicating in a language that makes your customer feel comfortable. It demonstrates an interest in connecting with your client on a personal level – that you care about their experience and want them to fully understand what you have to offer. In other words, in order to maximize sales and production, enterprises must make their online presence easily accessible to everyone regardless of language. In addition, offering a user experience in multiple languages is an organic way to increase engagement and conversions via a website, however, this is often disregarded by smaller agencies due to fears over cost and complexity.

Transitioning to a platform with multiple languages understandably poses a number of challenges – like having one website with multiple versions of the same page for each language, or multiple individual localized sites each with its own bespoke content – and although choosing the right technical tools is an integral step, it’s only the beginning of the project; there is a huge element of process involved too.

Here are ABC’s top three benefits of multilingual websites for online marketers:

1. Better communication, enhanced user experience, improved Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

It’s not surprising that multilingual websites improve communication with both national and international clients. In South Africa, there is room for significant improvement when interacting with local clients by offering just one additional language other than English. Three quarters of all online shoppers prefer to make purchases in their own language – that means businesses with monolingual websites could potentially miss out on reaching the majority of their target market if their audience isn’t prepared to conduct business in a language that is not their mother-tongue. Furthermore, sixty-percent of foreign language speakers never even look at English sites, so if your goal is taking your product to a new market – or you are trying to grow globally as a business – localizing (adapting an existing website to local language and culture) your website to make it universally accessible could be key.

It’s no secret that the success of an online business depends heavily on its ability to rank highly among industry-related websites – and as long as a multilingual website is set up properly, Google will rank it higher in search results. By ensuring that your website loads quickly for users across the globe, is optimized for key search terms used in local markets and generates positive user experience and reviews, your SEO will rise. Additionally, most search engines, including Google, place significant importance on local SEO – so demonstrate that you meet local needs or have a local presence, and your ranking will increase globally. When you commit to meeting the needs of all your customers, search engines respond accordingly, meaning that multilingual websites lead to killer SEO.

2. Cost-effective marketing tool

Transitioning to a multilingual website will not only boost your financial performance but help create brand awareness of your product or service – it’s one of the most cost-effective ways of marketing your company, capturing new users, building relationships with new clients and giving your brand an international outlook. On average, content marketing costs 62 percent less than traditional marketing and can generate up to three times as many leads, so a multilingual website can help bring you one step closer to your audience while increasing the number of users who are able to understand your marketing messages.

3. Better customer satisfaction

You can heighten user experience by helping customers navigate your website without facing error messages in English, currency they aren’t familiar with or irrelevant images and catch phrases. When user experience is improved, it leads to better metrics which results in lower bounce rates due to prolonged site visits – this means your conversions and Click-Through Rate will soar. In addition to more site visits and sales, your Search Engine Results Pages ranking will improve too.

Greater client satisfaction means better reviews, repeat business and more clients – a general win-win for all. By taking a little extra time and putting in a little extra effort, you can demonstrate that you are thinking about your audience – and if the customer thinks you care, they will want to do business with you.

So… what are you waiting for?

With so many added benefits, it’s pretty much a no brainer – if you want to break into new markets or conduct business internationally, you need a multilingual site that walks and talks like a native. The Internet is an integral part of modern society, and as it continues to grow, it will increasingly become the primary port of call for both businesses and individuals on the hunt for goods, services and information. If you are serious about getting that competitive advantage, it’s time to get serious about how your website is perceived by all audiences, from all walks of life.