Don't let online marketing be spoiled by language barriers

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The Web has evolved over the past decade from a set of static sites into a search-oriented online experience dominated by Google, commerce sites like Amazon, gaming environments like Zynga where micro-commerce flourishes and a social network dominated primarily by Facebook. All these environments provide marketers information to target visitors on the basis of all sorts of demographic information. One thing, however, has not changed: Unless the marketer and the customer understand one another, there is no message that has hit home.

This is all the more important today since the Web is on its way to evolving from an environment where the primary language of communication is English to one where English is only spoken by a minority of visitors. Research shows that if content is presented in the native language of a visitor, engagement increases as evidenced by clickthroughs or time spent on the page. Increased engagement results in increased commerce or affinity to the business.

To achieve these goals of reaching customers, businesses need to consistently follow these simple rules:

1. Make all content that is appropriate to a channel available to a customer: Don't be selective – let the consumer decide what is important to them.

2. Ensure that the content is available in the language of the customer: pre-translate all content that you are publishing.

3. Make the content natively findable in the language of the customer: Ensure that content and keywords are translated to make the content findable and searchable.

4. Respond to customers in their language: Ensure that the tools used for sentiment analysis can translate a user's feedback for analysis and decision making. Integrate translation into e-mail and chat to ensure a continuous channel of communication with customers.

In other words, engage consumers where they are and in their language.

Swamy Viswanathan is Language Weaver's VP of products and marketing.

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