Multilingual ecommerce can open your store up to a wider audience, thereby increasing conversions and sales.
However, it also presents major challenges if you’ve never made the transformation before. After all, reaching out to a global customer base means broadening your own horizons at the same time and implementing new, untried strategies.
In this guide, we take a look at everything you need to know in order to implement a multilingual ecommerce strategy. This will allow you to expand your brand quickly so that you drive more traffic and sales while building relationships with more customers.
Assess your analytics
The first thing you need to do is to assess your analytics so that you know whether or not your store even requires a multilingual strategy.
If you already use Google Analytics, take a look at your data to see where your traffic is coming from. Once you’ve identified the top countries, you can then isolate them and focus your efforts on targeting them.
This allows you to target the right countries with your products. After all, just because your store is going international, this doesn’t mean you need to target every single country. Instead, it’s much better (and simpler) to target just a few where demand for your products is high.
Translate your pages
Once you’ve identified the countries you need to target, the next step is to translate your pages. For example, if you’ve learned that a great chunk of your traffic is coming from Germany, you’ll need to translate your pages into German. Otherwise, German site visitors who don’t speak English will quickly leave their page shortly after they’ve arrived. Not only does this mean a loss of potential sales, but you’ll be left with a high bounce rate, which is bad for SEO.
Your most important pages will need to be translated. These include:
- Product pages
- Returns policies
- Checkout pages
There are two ways you can translate your pages. The first option is to use an automatic translation app. This is a quick and easy option. However, it also means that the software might not be able to recreate your tone of voice, which could damage your brand.
The second option is to manually translate your pages yourself. This is much more time-consuming and requires you to create individual stories for each language and hire staff to translate each page for you. However, it’s by far the most effective method as it gives you more control and allows you to localize each page. This ultimately ensures that site visitors get a localized experience that puts them at ease.
Alternatively, if you don’t want to use an automatic translator but you also don’t have the time to build individual stores, you could…
Add a language selection menu
A language selection menu is a solid compromise between a manual translation and not building separate websites. You’re still manually translating the pages yourself (with the help of freelancers if necessary), but there’s no need to build new sites. Instead, you’re just adding a menu that will automatically redirect visitors so that they can view your website in their own language.
A language selection menu is also a great way to improve the user experience because it allows the site visitor to come along and pick a language of their choosing. For example, if a German customer arrives at your store and doesn’t speak English, they can click the menu and look for “German”.
However, it’s really important that you choose the right place for your menu. If your menu isn’t easily accessible, site visitors might assume it isn’t there at all and will exit.
You could add your language select menu to the top-right corner of your homepage, which is where most multilingual ecommerce stores typically add theirs. Utilizing a dropdown menu is also a good idea.
Add multilingual live chat
Live chat is a great way to remove most potential barriers to conversion. When you follow best practices, the customer can initiate a conversation with you at any time about a query they have that’s causing them friction, ranging from products to shipping.
When you add multilingual chat support, you’re removing even more barriers to conversion. Customers from all around the world are able to take advantage of technology that allows them to get answers in their language in an instant. This improves the customer experience, and as research has shown increases conversions by as much as 2.8x.
Optimize your ecommerce store for SEO
You’ve probably already implemented an SEO campaign for your online store. But now that you’re planning to go multilingual, you’ll need to implement a multilingual SEO strategy.
This, of course, can be time consuming, but its benefits make it worthwhile. With a multilingual SEO strategy you’ll improve your organic reach, therefore driving more organic and qualified traffic. Your position in the SERPs will improve across various regional search engines.
However multilingual SEO is a huge challenge, and if you don’t get this right, you could end up wasting a lot of resources. Worse still, multilingual SEO makes it very easy to duplicate content, due to the fact that you’ve now got so many pages.
The best thing to do is to manually translate your pages (see above). Then, you could work with a translator alongside an SEO agency to understand regional context/dialect when implementing a multilingual SEO campaign.
A multilingual SEO campaign requires you to add foreign language keywords to your content and metadata, as well as alt tags to your images. It also requires you to improve the readability of each page (which is one of the reasons automatic translations are ill-advised).
You should also use hreflang tags to tell search engines like Google about these variations, which will help them serve the correct web page to your site visitors.
Be culturally sensitive
Another important aspect to include in your multilingual ecommerce strategy is to be culturally sensitive.
This will help you establish rapport with customers, build relationships and ultimately increase customer trust and loyalty around the world.
Once again, it’s always a good idea to play things safe here and work with freelancers around the world who understand different customs that are specific to different countries. This will certainly help prevent you from making any faux pas.
Once you’ve identified your main sources of traffic, you can then make changes to your website that allow you to target global customers. That being said, a multilingual ecommerce strategy is an ongoing process. Your SEO, content and even live chat strategies will need to be assessed frequently so that you stay on top of trends and keep reaching more customers.