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Which languages should I translate my website into?

Reviewing which languages you use online is just as important as reviewing your company’s strategies, positioning and target groups from time to time. After all, this can be crucial when it comes to reaching your growth targets.

Published 8/10/2015

When addressing an international audience online, there are a number of aspects that are worth thinking about. Here are five questions you should ask yourself:

  • In which languages can your intended target group assimilate information?
  • Which languages does your intended target group understand?
  • Which languages do they feel comfortable with?
  • How connected are they?
  • How do they search for information?
  • What types of information and posts are they interested in?

If you are also looking to sell products online, there are a few additional questions to think about:

  • Which languages account for the highest number of potential buyers?
  • How much purchasing power corresponds to these languages and their readers?
  • What purchasing patterns can you discern among these readers?
  • What are these readers’ payment patterns?
  • Which of the languages you have identified have a growing online presence?

In their 2013 WOW Benchmarks for 116 Economically Significant Digital Languages report, Common Sense Advisory point out that 2.4 billion people can be reached online using just 116 languages, representing an economic potential of USD 451 billion. Now, 116 languages might sound like rather a lot, but your choice of languages can be extremely important. After all, if people can’t understand you they won’t buy from you. According to CSA, inclination to buy rises by 25% when recipients can receive the message in their own language, and 12 languages are enough to reach 80% of the world’s online consumers.

English, Japanese, German, Spanish and simplified Chinese are ranked the highest, and – according to the report – Arabic and Persian have experienced the greatest growth in the past year, in terms of both the proportion of the total connected population and their online purchasing power. The trend shows a clear shift away from Europe and the Western World, towards new, growing parts of the world economies. Europe and Scandinavia are certainly holding their ground, but the potential for development is not as great since, from a global perspective, we are a small market and have already embraced the technology.

In short, there are rewards to be reaped from using good planning and translation to expand your horizons towards the rest of the world.

Useful links:

Facts about population numbers and languages in various countries:

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