Marketing executives and web designers spend a significant amount of time pinpointing why, when, and where visitors leave their websites. Common Sense Advisory’s latest white paper, “Going from Simple Translation to Successful Transactions on Global Websites,” analyzes the reasons visitors leave across the buying experience as visitors transition from casual visitor to browser to shopper to buyer to customer. The white paper, which is available for download in its entirety, is based on an eight-nation survey of over 2,400 consumers who answered questions in their national language about their behavior and preferences for website visits and purchases across a wide range of product types. The survey focused on their preferences for buying in English or in their own language, having products supported in local language or English, and what events or factors caused them to abandon websites.
According to the author of the white paper, and the firm’s president and chief research officer, Don DePalma: “A global web presence demands a coordinated and harmonized brand and messaging, consolidated database and content efforts, and matrixed IT, marketing, and operational organizations. For most companies, this happens in stages, usually after several failed attempts. Each failure increases the sense of urgency and competitive anxiety.”
“Going from Simple Translation to Successful Transactions on Global Websites” specifically addresses how organizations of any size can increase their chance of crossing the global chasm, including to:
- Be realistic. Website globalization is a classic good news, bad news story. The good news is successful localization will bring more visitors and good business. The bad news is that it costs a lot to get started – and the costs don’t go away. The initial work revolves around deciding to go global, aligning the forces, deciding on your approach, internationalizing the infrastructure, and designing global templates, local business logic, and operational process.
- Put somebody in charge. This job crosses many business units – and it won’t likely go away any time soon. (“Chief Globalization Officer,” Common Sense Advisory, January 2007) It takes time, budget, resources from marketing, IT, and operations, plus management oversight to make globalization work. Smart executives realize that their company’s web presence is a key strategic asset for communication and commerce. Global by nature, the website presence must be owned by someone with the power to make things happen.
- Visitors who decide to buy must provide personal details and payment information. They may find that data forms on the site haven’t been adapted to their country, so they cannot enter phone or postal code data. Some of the logical structure or functions of the English-language site are missing or not translated. They might discover after filling out a form that the site won’t accept their credit cards or ship to their country.
- People buy from one company today, from its competitors tomorrow. Whether they’re buying iPods or I-beams, international customers begin their buying cycle online, where they can get answers to their frequently asked questions, product information, and transactions — all in their local languages. Prospects can review product offerings, safety advisories, technical data, and competitive descriptions.
The white paper concludes that tailoring services to local languages and customs is a natural extension to personalized marketing, creating a personally and culturally relevant experience that will strengthen the customer relationship and improve customer satisfaction. Adds DePalma, “People won’t buy what they can’t understand. And they can’t buy if you haven’t enabled transactions supporting local buying practices and credit cards.”