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How to Harness the Web to Tap into non-English Markets

Hi! One of the questions I get asked frequently by InfoMarketers (bloggers, PLR sellers, Kindle authors, and other ebook authors)  is about translation.

1. Should you do it?

2. What are the benefits?

3. Are there any special laws that you need to understand?

Here's a guest post from Christian Arno, the founder of Lingo 24 with some advice. Be sure to add your thoughts and share your questions (and experiences) in the comments area.

How to Tap into Non-English Markets

by Christian Arno of Lingo 24

The world wide web, as its very name implies, is a truly global phenomenon. The Internet has opened up vast new opportunities for small businesses and entrepreneurs, as the entire world is just a mouse-click away from parting with cash for your goods and/or services.

That's the theory at least. The Web does indeed offer glorious opportunities for those savvy enough to take advantage, but there's a little more involved than simply setting up your own little corner of cyberspace and waiting for the business to roll in.

Identify your markets

It's possible that you have a product or service with truly global appeal but, let's face it, whatever you're selling will in all likelihood be better received in some areas than others. Good market research will help reveal exactly where you can reasonably expect to make an impact and, even if you do have a global product, targeting a select number of markets will help keep your campaign focused, as well as simplifying processes such as website localization. One excellent tool for identifying keyword opportunities, and market gaps, in foreign markets is Google’s Global Market Finer, which presents the varying search volumes and PPC bid prices for keywords in countries around the world.

Localize your website

Making your website accessible is a must when trying to tap into non-English markets. English is still the single most commonly used language online and, as in the business world, it remains the lingua franca or common language of the Internet. Even so, it represents just under half of all online usage and studies have shown that multilingual users put more trust in sites in their own native language, especially when it comes to spending money online. A monolingual approach would clearly cut off huge swathes of potential customers.

Depending on the number of target markets and your realistic expectations of the returns you can expect from them, it may be enough to set up micro-sites or foreign language pages navigable from your main website. A fully localized website will be more expensive and time consuming to set up and maintain but will also give you the opportunity to invest in a country code Top Level Domain, such as .de for Germany or .fr for France. This will not only give your site a more ‘local', trustworthy feel but it will also boost your rankings on Google and other search engines, who use locality as one of the factors in their search algorithms.

The power of social networking

Social networking sites are not simply about playing Farmville or finding out what a casual acquaintance had for breakfast. They are about that in part, of course, but they can also be a useful marketing tool, and businesses both large and small are increasingly using these sites as part of their marketing armory. Businesses can directly engage with customers, helping to build brand loyalty. They can monitor the online conversation about their products and services, garner feedback and generally spread awareness of their products.

The bigger social networking sites, such as Facebook and Twitter, do have global audiences, but it's worth bearing in mind that in some markets other local competitors rule the roost. In South Korea, for example, Cyworld is the market leader while Orkut is the most visited site in Brazil. It isn't essential but it may be worth checking the popular sites in your target market and maintaining a presence on those.

Translation issues

When crossing into non-English markets, the issue of translation is one of the most important things to consider. Your marketing and website content must all be translated and the quality of the translation will directly reflect on how your potential customers view you and your product. Automatic translation programs such as Google Translate and Yahoo! Babel Fish offer a cheap and easy way to get a literal translation, but they can be prone to contextual errors and this can leave your copy looking stilted and amateurish. Enlisting the aid of a native speaking translator will help catch any mistakes and will also bring cultural knowledge to the task.

When dealing with ebooks and electronic information, you also have to consider whether to actually translate the product itself or whether to try to market it to multilingual readers in its original form. Having even a short book translated can be a hefty undertaking and you should be sure that any fully translated work will actually have an audience before you start. For this kind of work, good quality translation is essential and only a skilled, native-speaking translator should be considered for the job.

Check publishing rights

Another issue when selling ebooks worldwide is that of publishing rights. Even ebooks in English cannot always be sold in different English speaking territories such as the United States, the UK and Australia. This is because publishers may be granted the rights to publish a piece of work only in certain, exclusive territories, meaning that a book to which you hold the US rights may not necessarily be able to be sold in the UK. This may apply whether the work is in print or electronic format and the issue can become even more tangled when dealing with translated versions. Put simply, ensure that you have the rights in place before selling an ebook anywhere.

There's undoubtedly a lot to consider when harnessing the Web to tap into non-English markets but, equally, there are massive potential rewards to be had if you're willing to put in the time and effort.

About the Author

is the Managing Director of Lingo24, Inc. Visit Christian's website at Follow Lingo24, Inc. on Twitter.

In the past twelve months, they have translated over forty million words for businesses in every industry sector, including the likes of MTV and World Bank.

I appreciate shares and I adore comments! Please share your thoughts.

  • Susan

    Great article and I TOTALLY agree on getting things translated. Our family recently moved to Costa Rica and my husband did an entire internet marketing presentation in Spanish to the local BNI group. It took HOURS to figure out what the correct words were for “SEO” or “Social Media” or “keywords” or “data fields”. I think with other niches that don’t have as many words of American English origin, it would have been easier.

    I’m bookmarking the Global Market Finder tool. Hadn’t heard of that and will DEFINITELY be using it.

    Thanks for a great article!

  • Debi J

    Great article Nicole. And thank you to Christian for sharing his knowledge. My boyfriend was born in Mexico so I’ve learned over the past few years the huge difference between what I learned in Spanish class at school and the actual nuances in the “real” world of hispanics (and that’s just with the area of Mexico HIS family is from!), not to mention all the nuances in various parts of the Hispanic world (it’s like a Texan drawl vs. someone from the Bronx. If you don’t know what you’re doing you could offend or have the opposite effect of what you’d planned.

    Now I have an idea of where to start if I eventually want to approach a new market that speaks another language.

    Thanks again Nicole,
    Debi J

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