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Is Localization Important for Software and Websites?

With the advent of the digital age, it’s fair to say we are immersed daily in a globalized society such that no previous generation has ever experienced. There’s no denying that English has long been the language of the Internet and technological industries the world over. With more than 1.2 billion English speakers worldwide, it’s our most spoken language. But, does that mean your business should only communicate with your customers through this lingua franca, or is there an argument for expanding into new language markets?


Of the roughly 4 billion internet users, at the very least 3.4 billion of them call a language other than English their mother tongue. In fact, there are less than 380 million native English speakers in the world, which pales in comparison to the overall numbers when including those who learn English as a second or third language.

The United States is no different. While we have no official language, there are actually more than 300 different languages currently spoken in America alone. The majority of the population may be able to speak English, but it’s not whether a person can speak the language in which you choose to sell to them that matters, but whether that’s the language in which they feel most comfortable to buy.

As the chart above graph illustrates, English has a relatively modest level of native speakers, yet it accounts for a sizeable 54% of languages used online. Such an obvious discrepancy highlights just how many online consumers are currently expected to interact and buy from companies not investing in marketing directly aimed at them in their native language.

Mother Tongue V Second Language

Having more people understand you is the first step for any successful software or website launch. With that said, and with such a comparatively low percentage of native English speakers, it’s worth asking the question: is it enough to sell in a second or third language? What impact would native language localization have on your conversion rates and customer satisfaction?

People prefer to be sold to in their mother tongue.

In a 2014 poll undertaken by the Common Sense Advisory, over 3,002 consumers were surveyed to test the theory that businesses could increase their sales through proper localization of their websites and product offerings. They discovered a significant preference for a person’s native language when it comes to buying online. This makes sense when you consider the difficulties of navigating online sales as a consumer, and the need for proper customer or product support available in your own language.

In summary, we found that more local-language content throughout the customer experience leads to a greater likelihood of purchase.’ []

Therefore, if software and website localization are preferred by consumers, we should look at exactly what it involves.

What Is Software Localization?

Software development itself has become omnipresent in the business world and the world of commerce. Sales are made online more than ever before, with so many of us logged on at any given time. The question all businesses want answered is how you can make this online marketplace work for you? The first step is researching what will resonate with your target demographic and adapting your website or software appropriately.

Software localization, or “L10n,” is the process of adapting your software or website to better meet the needs of each new language market. Of course it includes the translation of your content, but going further than this, localization ensures that the overall user experience is culturally sensitive to the needs of the audience you’re targeting. This can mean changing graphics, color schemes, date and time formatting, currency offerings, and even the layout. It’s important to also take any new region’s legal and regulatory requirements into consideration. Often, software localization includes modifying software components that are user facing, so it requires effective collaboration between both the development and linguistic teams.

Connect with Your Consumers

We’ve all experienced examples of badly translated marketing materials, with too many mistakes to make coherent sense from the indecipherable mess. Software localization is what makes your website sound, look, and feel like an authentic representation of what your new consumers personally connect with, as if it was originally created for their locale. If blue and red colors don’t sell as well in Ireland as they do in the U.K, change them! If Christmas references don’t spark as much interest for your target demographic, then acknowledge that and speak to them about something else. Yes, even if it is December!

Should You Invest in Localization?

With every new opportunity comes great competition. The Internet has created the largest competitive marketplace the world has ever seen. If you want to have any hope of competing successfully, you need to capture the attention of your target market and maintain it. What better way to do so than to speak to them in a way that resonates more than the thousands of others they see and click away from every day?

When reaching out to customers in different regions and to those who speak a different language, each with their own unique cultural influences, social values, and even varying climate and geographical experiences, localizing your software or website shows that you value their customs and preferences just as much as your original market. No-one likes to feel second best!

Building A Trusted Brand

Of course, your marketing approach should be specifically tailored towards each of your language markets so that they don’t feel less catered to, less spoken to, and more spoken at than your original language audience. By building a personal rapport, you foster trust in your brand and increase your conversion rates across language markets. That is, after all, how global businesses are built.

Improved ROI: It’s Value for Money

By keeping the individual needs of your customers in mind, you have a greater chance of effectively selling to them, no matter what language they speak. There is no doubt that expanding your consumer base is the most cost-effective way to increase both your sales and overall profits, for a comparatively lower investment than other methods like expanding your offerings or adjusting profit margins. This is without even mentioning that competition for keywords that boost your search engine visibility is much lower in other languages than it is in English. Just by investing in new language markets, you could boost your overall website authority and drive more traffic to your site. When you introduce your brand to more people in a considered and thoughtful way, you may achieve higher conversion rates than previously thought possible.

At PGLS, our expert team of linguists, graphic designers, and localization engineers will guide you through the website and software localization process using a detailed Localization Checklist, keeping you fully informed each step of the way. We can help with everything from comprehensive multilingual website overhauls to a new language software application launch, target market testing, cultural consulting, and much more.

Contact us and start really connecting with your customers today.

Check out our “How to Localize Your Software: Key Tips for Success” blog, for some useful advice to get you started!

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PGLS – Every Word Matters

Based in the greater Washington, D.C. area with team members across the world, Piedmont Global Language Solutions (PGLS) leverages nearly 25 years of language service experience to consistently deliver on-time, accurate, and personalized language service solutions to numerous companies and government agencies. Backed by our industry-leading processes and resources, PGLS offers Translation, Interpretation, Transcription, Language Training, and Localization in more than 450 language combinations.

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