The Business Impact of Not Translating

The stats are clear: by not translating you are missing out on entirely new markets.


Gather ‘round, friends. It’s story time!

Raise your hand if you have ever scrolled aimlessly through your Instagram feed only to be stopped dead in your tracks by a very alluring leopard jacket. 🙋

No? No one? Just me? Okay.

A brand that shall remain nameless piqued my interest with a bright, fun ad - there wasn’t much copy, which gave it an air of mystery. The company’s Instagram account had a decent amount of followers and after poking around I determined it was not a spam account populated with weird bot comments.

As I made my way to their site, I learned it was a German company.

Immediately I was worried about measurements, payment, shipping and all the potential “what if” situations that could arise. No offense, Germans. I have had less than desirable encounters with brands abroad, which is why I was initially hesitant.

But I was pleasantly surprised to see crystal clear product descriptions. There was an efficient check out, I unearthed a code and was able to get free shipping and there were scores of customer reviews that were translated from German into English so I could see how other customers rated both the quality of the clothing line and their online shopping experience.

What I am describing is an example of localization at its finest.

Can’t read? Won’t buy. That’s why translation is critical

Had this brand not localized their site for US customers, I never would have been able to navigate the process of purchasing my prized coat nor would I have been properly ushered through their marketing funnel with such ease.

Plenty of research has been conducted to explore how both the user experience of a buying journey and translation of that journey affects global growth. The consensus states if your customer can not read your offerings they are less likely to press the “buy” button.

Additional compelling research has concluded the majority of customers, despite their geographical location, operate in similar ways when completing a purchase:

  • 72.1% of consumers spend most or all of their time on websites in their native language
  • 72.4% of consumers said they would be more likely to buy a product with information in their own language
  • 56.2% of consumers said that the ability to obtain information in their own language is more important than price

If you are debating whether or not to localize your content for international markets, consider the impact of not translating: you are missing out on entirely new markets.

The business impact of not translating: stagnant growth

By missing out on entirely new markets, you are missing out on sales. You’re missing major opportunities to heighten your brand awareness. You’re missing out on potential growth.

To understand exactly how language accessibility drives growth, Smartling recently analyzed the top five brands in the retail space.

Our research concluded that brands with a strong focus on eCommerce need to invest in localization to unearth the massive potential of growth:

  • Brands with the highest level of growth also offer the highest level of language accessibility.
  • There is a significantly positive relationship between the language accessibility of these retailers and their five-year growth rate.
  • Businesses with localization efforts ranked as “Weak” showed 0% growth over a five year period verses a business’ whose efforts ranked as “Strong” showed 149% growth.

The stats are clear - you need to be able to be accessible to multiple audiences in order to stay relevant.

Deciding not to translate your content absolutely impacts your bottom line, your ability to stay at the top of your industry and the potential for growth. Why be in the red when black looks great on everyone?

The Bottom Line

Localization is the key to growth in this eCommerce age. Not translating your content and brand experience is just leaving potential sales and growth on the table.

Each project is different but operates on the same fundamentals: native language via localization has the potential to secure more sales.

By not translating, your brand is missing out on the massive potential to reach new markets literally around the world. And with the right solution or process in place, translation management can just be another part of your content management strategy.

About Laura

Laura Wyant is a freelance digital strategist and writer/editor. She is currently working with start-ups, tech companies, and health and healing spaces. Laura has been contributing to the Smartling blog on topics around cloud translation, digital strategy, and overall creative translation process. When she isn’t working in media, she is working to educate herself on matters such as intersectional women’s health and advancements in technology.