By Emma Clarke

Have you optimized your marketing strategies to work on mobile?  Are you transcreating your content for foreign markets?  If your answer is no to either of these questions, you might be missing out on $44.6 trillion of business.

Translation and smartphones

Smartphones are big business globally

By the end of 2013, 80% of the world will have access to mobile phones according to Portio’s research in ‘Worldwide Mobile Market Forecasts 2009-2013’. And according to Common Sense Advisory the economic potential of online services is $44.6 trillion, with only a third of that value relating to English-speakers.

Can any company really afford to be mobile-free and mono-lingual?  Does it even matter? Surely English, the lingua franca of the world, is enough to tap into that 44.6 trillion dollar market?

Let’s take a look at this through the 4 steps of purchasing behaviour:

– Brand consideration

– Researching

– Purchase

– Experience

1.  Brand consideration

Although it’s true that initially customers tend to turn to familiar local brands, if you speak the customer’s language you can break into the market.

So is English not enough?

Swedish Flag

Sweden: A country of excellent English speakers

Let’s take Sweden as an example, which according to an EU study has the highest penetration of English speakers in the EU at 89%.  Is it really necessary to translate when targeting this market?

Well, according to the Common Sense Advisory, 80% of Swedish customers prefer to buy products in their native language.

Refusing to translate could have considerable impact on the return you get from your export endeavours, even in Sweden – the most proficient English-speaking EU mainland country.

It may seem obvious, but to consider your products, customers want to understand them.

2.  Researching

iPhone and MacBook

The shift from computers to phones is happening fast

Here customers are sourcing alternative suppliers, to make comparisons and choose potential suppliers.  This is normally the key stage where companies are added to the buying mix.

The potential of marketing on smart phones cannot be underestimated. You may even be reading this on a smart phone. Worldwide, every day more android phones are activated than babies are born.

And don’t fall into the trap of assuming that other cultures are not as technical savvy as the West. In 2013, South Korea’s mobile market has already passed the 110% penetration rate mark (i.e. many individuals have at least one mobile phone).

In fact in countries where fewer people have access to computers, more customers are accessing the internet via their smart phones. 6.1% of people in Asia access the internet via their mobile phone compared to just 1.8% of Europeans.

3. Moment of purchase

So, the customer has noticed your website, done their research and found something to purchase.

Even if they have added an item to the basket, they still might be put off from proceeding to checkout if the website is not in their native language.

A mouse and credit cards

Chinese online sales are growing fast

A mere 5% of Japanese respondents and 7% of the Chinese respondents said that they were happy to buy products in a foreign language.

At 193 million, China has the largest estimated number of online shoppers. Smart phones have enlarged this possible market even further, to 513 million.

If you want people to go ahead and buy, you need to go ahead and make it easy for them.

And in 2013 that means translation and mobile.

4. Product Experience

Iceberg picture

Thanks for the analogy, European Commission

Clearly, loyalty cannot be created if the customer’s experience of the service has been negative. Both businesses and individuals know how expensive bad service or a faulty product can be. The European Commission described the price of poor quality translation as an iceberg with many hidden costs.

An example of loss of credibility affected Clairol due to their lack of expertise in German colloquialisms. When Clairol introduced their ‘Mist Stick’ curling irons in Germany they were unaware that ‘mist’ is slang for ‘manure’. Only after a lack in forecasted sales did they realise the error of their poor research. Mistranslations harm the brand’s image because it shows a lack of respect for the targeted culture.

To conclude: Carpe diem

Convinced? Then it’s advisable to act fast.

According to Kelvin Newman, a frequent contributor to the ‘Internet Marketing: Insider Tips and Advice for Online Marketing’ podcast, it is important to take advantage of mobile advertising quickly because with the astronomical rate of mobile purchasing, today is the cheapest that mobile advertising is ever going to be.

Start of a race

Get ahead of your competition

A website which has not only been translated, but also transcreated and adapted for a different culture is much more likely to be shared on facebook or twitter.  The nail in the coffin is that 72.4% customers are less likely to buy if product information isn’t in their language, according to Common Sense Advisory.

So in summary, translation and mobile are crucial if you want to target these growing markets before your competitors do.

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