Last month, Eurobarometer released a study that examined how Europeans react to foreign-language content on the Internet. The results were clear: if you do business online and have an international clientele, translating your website could help you attract customers and may even increase sales.
English may be the most common language on the Internet, but it’s by no means a universal tongue. While the survey showed that one out of two European web surfers were willing to seek out content that wasn’t in their first language, that high percentage is skewed as citizens of some EU member countries are more likely to seek out foreign-language content than citizens of other countries. From a press release summarizing the results of the study:
“This figure hides great variations as between 90 and 93% of Greeks, Slovenes, Luxembourgers, Maltese and Cypriots indicated they would use other languages when online, but only 9% of UK citizens, 11% of Irish, 23% of Czechs and 25% of Italians said they would do so.”
When it comes to actually putting their money where their eyeballs are, the statistics are even more stark: Only 18% of the respondents were willing to buy products online in another language “frequently or all the time,” and 42% would never buy a product online if the website was in another language.
In the press release, Neelie Kroes, European Commission Vice President for the Digital Agenda, said:
“If we are serious about making every European digital, we need to make sure that they can understand the web content they want. We are developing new technologies that can help people who cannot understand a foreign language.”
That’s all well and good, but if you want to make customers who don’t speak your language feel welcome on your website, getting your site translated by a reputable company is a much better idea than relying on machine translation technology. Computer translations are still far from perfect. Sometimes they sound and awkward and lack nuance, other times they are just plain wrong. Either way, wouldn’t it be better for your foreign customers to see polished, flawlessly translated text that carries your company’s message and entices them to buy?