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Here’s Why It’s Crucial to Talk to Your Customers in Their Own Language

We explore why it’s crucial to talk to customers in their own language. It’s about investing in full localization that proves you know your customer.

This isn’t just about translation. It’s about investing in an all-out localized service that proves that you know your customer inside out… And that’s where businesses will see success.

We get it. You’ve spent countless hours honing your brand’s voice. Perhaps you’ve invested precious resources into crafting a compelling, original marketing and communications strategy. It could be that you’ve managed to bring the best talent around on board to produce exciting social media and blog content, not to mention your carefully-managed PR outreach.

Team using laptops

We know just as well as you do that businesses are born from blood, sweat, and tears – not despite them. Sure, success didn’t come overnight, but when it did, you weren’t surprised – because your very business was built for success.

And once you’ve fostered success, it’s natural to begin to look further afield for new opportunities and new markets to conquer. Because surely, with a few tweaks, entering an overseas market with the same strategy, passion and enthusiasm should bring about similar results... Right?

One of the easiest mistakes you can make

Do you want to know one of the easiest mistakes successful businesses make when entering a new market? It’s assuming that your strategy for success can be applied to an overseas market with nothing more than a few tweaks.

Do this and prepare to fail.

Entering a new market is tough, but not impossible. But the key is a skillful adaptation of the content and strategy you already worked so hard to build.

The truth is that customers in overseas markets speak a totally different language to your home market, in every sense of the phrase.

We’re not just talking linguistically here, but culturally and socially too.

Books in their own language

Here are the key reasons why you need to be talking to customers in their own language.

Don’t just get by. Get right to the heart of your customer... in their own language

Yes, English is very much a dominant language throughout the globe. It’s estimated that around 1.5 billion people can speak English, equating to around 20% of the world’s population. However, fewer than 400 million people actually have English as their first language.

But here’s the thing: There’s a difference between your message being understood by your customers, and your message resonating with your customers.

What’s more, there are stats to back this up.

  • 72.1% of consumers spend most or all of their time on websites in their own language.
  • 72.4% of consumers said they would be more likely to buy a product with information in their own language.
  • 56.2% of consumers said that the ability to obtain information in their own language is more important than price.

Despite the fact that many of the participants in the aforementioned study were multilingual, the key takeaway is as follows:

More than half of consumers are willing to pay more if you are willing to give them information in their own languages.

Harvard Business Review

It’s a perfect exemplification of that famous Nelson Mandela quote... “If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his own language, that goes to his heart.”

Two people drinking coffee

Deep cultural understanding means more effective marketing

So, a simple translation of your website and product descriptions should suffice, right?

Well… Whilst marketing translation is absolutely crucial for communicating to customers in, quite literally, their own language, there is also another consideration to make – one that is, arguably, just as important as language.

It’s culture.

Language and culture are inextricably linked.

We know that the goal of professional translation is to produce an accurate translation that conveys the message of the source text in the target text. Localization, however, goes one step further.

Localization not only aims to convey the same message as the source text but also ensures that the content is totally adapted to suit the cultural context of the target market.

When communicating with customers, localization means taking into consideration those cultural nuances, such as societal norms, values, traditions, and superstitions. This is to ensure that all content and communications are appropriate, engaging, and relevant to the target consumer. This is one of the most important aspects of successful marketing translation.

Here’s how it works:

  • Localising copy e.g. adapting your English-language copy for an American, Australian, British or Canadian audience. Localization not only covers spelling and formatting changes, but also cultural references and humor. For example, cracking a joke about a British TV soap opera star is unlikely to raise a laugh in America or Australia… But if the reference is adapted to a local soap star, it’s far more likely to resonate.
  • Localisation can also mean adapting images and color usage to suit the target market’s norms and cultural traditions, e.g. In some cultures, using too much yellow in your marketing material could be a big no-no, as it can be associated with mourning.

Proving You Go Above and Beyond

One of the most important ways of speaking to your customers in a language they understand is through effective and efficient multilingual customer service.

Offering multilingual customer service may seem unrealistic for smaller companies. However, few realize that there are incredible opportunities for huge ROI.

Allowing customers to communicate with you in their native language is likely to boost your brand’s reputation. It should also inspire brand loyalty amongst your customer base.

What’s more, it can be affordable. For example, you could try the service by investing in translations of customer service scripts, e-mails or key troubleshooting documents.

If this brings in results, you could even consider hiring multilingual staff to oversee customer service communications in the long term.

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