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We’ve just seen a really interesting article by John Yunker for Marketing Profs. He is looking at how the Internet is used by non-English speakers.

Five translations used to be enough

Yunker states that fifteen years ago, web translation was quite rare – to translate your website into five or six languages was considered enough to be “global”. He ascribes this to the fact that most Internet users at that time were native English speakers.

Today, fewer than 20% of Internet users are native English speakers, which should give companies pause for thought. 80% of Internet users are not native English speakers. We’ve highlighted before that people are reluctant to buy products from a website that is not in their native language. Chinese speakers are now the largest group of internet users with 23%, then English, Spanish, Japanese and Portuguese.

Coca-Cola translates into more than 40 languages

So, how many languages should you translate into to compete globally? For major brands, such as Coca-Cola, Avon and BMW the answer is: they are translated into more than 40 languages.

Fair enough, but not everyone is a Coca-Cola – so realistically, how many languages should you translate your website into? This depends on a number of factors: your company’s international reach, and the world regions you are interested in. Europe may be a single market, but it contains many languages. Translating your website into Spanish, however, gives you access to Spain, Spanish speakers in the US and large sections of Latin America. Chinese gives you access to a very big market, but you will know best if the Chinese market is showing an interest in your products.

How to decide what translations to prioritise

Take the time to work out which markets are showing interest in your products (do you have early adopters, enquiries from distributors?). Then consider translating your major pages – products, contact us, basket, payments, into the languages which are going to be most likely to bring a return. Check there are no barriers to selling in those markets – high distribution costs for example. Then draw up your wishlist of languages, contact Accutranslate and we will start translating!