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How many languages do you need to stay competitive online?

In an almost poetic paradigm of one of the points made in this article of how important it is to stay active online, the subject was inspired by a tweet from the independent market research firm, the Common Sense Advisory, who say that having your online material translated into a minimum of nine languages is necessary to reach 80% of the total economic opportunity.

According to the Internet World Stats, of course English was the top language on the internet, followed very closely by Chinese, perhaps an unsurprising fact to those who are aware of the unrelenting growth of China’s economy. But how many of your business websites are available in the Chinese language for the visibility of these potential powerhouse customers? Perhaps more surprising is that even though Japanese ranks a distant fourth in the ranking of top internet languages, it is considered as one of the three most important with regards to access to the addressable economic potential using online communication, along with English and German.

These figures certainly testify the importance of multilingual web presence and especially so if considered alongside data from the World Trade Organisation that names the United States the top country for imports, followed by China, Germany and Japan.

So who will benefit from a multilingual presence? The stats presented here may lead one to believe that it is only the multinational company that will benefit from investing in translation services, but studies show that these services offered to small and medium enterprises break down language barriers and narrow the trade gap thus leading to an increase in exports and, as globalisation increases, many businesses are realising that they have to expand internationally to keep up. Nora Senior, president of the British Chambers of Commerce and Guardian professional, underlines the importance of small businesses using language services in order to increase export, but also reminds us that “British business has to stop believing everyone else will just learn our language” and she also believes that “there seems to be a major disconnect in both our schools and businesses in understanding and promoting the value of language as a business tool”. Just think of the European Union in which trade can move freely between countries, an immense opportunity for any business to export their products without any barriers, but did you know that there are twenty four official and working languages in the EU?

Staying competitive online requires a combination of business savvy, good content, good visibility and, with today’s world getting smaller and smaller through the media of the internet, a multilingual presence.

But which languages to chose? A good translation company will advise your business on which languages will open up your visibility and boost your online sales power. A good start is to translate the most important content into three to five basic European languages and one other language specific to your industry, Polish for example if you manufacture products specifically for Agriculture.

Localisation is also incredibly important when increasing your presence on foreign markets. It is essential to adapt your website content and specify your marketing material to your target market.

There is also further good news for small businesses, although demand for translation is up, the average per-word price for translation into and from the 30 most commonly used languages on the web has fallen over 30% since 2010 and over 40% since 2008.

The research performed by the Common Sense Advisory says that global brands looking to appeal to 95% of the world’s online wallet will need 20 online languages, so what is stopping your business from also reaching that economic potential? Get in touch with SMG UK translations to speak to request a free quote today. Join the debate and tweet @SMGTranslations today.

 


Originally posted 2014-01-10 18:05:44.

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