Smart marketers and business owners know the value of multilingual websites. This is particularly true in Singapore:
Here, over 40% of the population are non-natives and there are four official languages. This means that any given person might have any number of first languages.

This is an important point:

Because all the research shows that people prefer to search online in their native language – whatever this might be…

They’re more likely to trust a company which has a website translated into their language. And they’re much more likely to buy from them.

This means that companies which do not have multilingual websites are missing out on potentially huge client bases, as well as a whole number of other benefits…

1.You give yourself a bigger reach

This is the most obvious answer to the question “why translate your website into other languages?”
While the majority of Singaporeans understand English, not every person in Singapore does. Plus, while many people in Singapore are impressively bilingual or multilingual, most will have a language preference.

This means that, even on the local level, you can show that you care about the preferences of the vast majority of the population – around 5 million people – by translating your website into only three other languages (Tamil, Standard Chinese and Malay).

When you extend that internationally though, just those three languages make your website accessible to a truly staggering number of potential clients:

  • Bahasa Melayu (known as Standard Malay outside of Singapore) is spoken by around 290 million people
  • Tamil is spoken by around 74 million people
  • Standard Chinese is spoken by around 7% of China’s 1 billion-plus population, amongst many others

This becomes more important when we remember that people prefer to conduct online transactions in their native language…

2.You build trust with a multilingual website

You can’t put a price on trust.

Buying goods and services over the internet – especially from a company you haven’t used before – is a veritable trust minefield. That’s why survey after survey shows that people are more likely to buy from websites which are in the mother tongue.

For example, while the number of English speakers is high in Singapore, not everyone who understands the language does so on a native level.

This means that any steps you can take to make a user feel at ease – including making sure that your message is localised, that the language you use is correct and that your website functions in a way that users from all cultures will understand – is one foot closer towards making them comfortable enough to make a purchase from you.

3.You don’t have to spend much money

Cost-effectiveness is the other half of this equation. Compared to such a huge potential increase in sales, the cost of multilingual websites is very small indeed. For some popular languages, you could be looking at as much as a 100% increase in sales for every additional language you add.

This is especially true when placed aside the global reach you’ll gain for your business – and the ongoing expansion of your client base which will follow long into the future.

One of the best ways to save yourself money, as well as a lot of later effort, is to design your website for multilingual capability from the very beginning.

4.Your show your cultural sensitivity – and show you care

Catering to your customers’ specific needs in terms of language shows you care at the most basic level of communication.

The need to build multilingual functionality into any website is increasingly becoming de rigueur for businesses of all sizes – especially in multilingual countries like Singapore.

Doing this displays to your clients that you’re sensitive to their needs and preferences – an increasingly vital part of doing business in today’s globalised world – and then makes it easier for them to do business with you.

That is, of course, as long as you do it right…

Even the biggest brands have fallen afoul of poorly localised marketing campaigns. It’s vital that you consult a Language Service Provider who knows the importance of:

  1. Optimising the localisation of a website, taking into account culture-specific norms and other factors
  2. Multilingual keyword research that’s handled by country and by market, not as direct translations of original English keywords
  3. Optimising metadata – as well as Ads and AdWords – to follow localised requirements

Your translation company should always indicate to you that they understand how critical the above factors are in multilingual website design.

If not, it’s time to start searching for another provider!

5.You retain customers and make it easy to buy from you

If you’ve ever tried navigating around a website that’s been automatically translated (perhaps by Google Translate) from its original language to English, you’ll understand how instantly off-putting it can be:

Nothing seems to work quite in the way you’d expect. It’s clearly been designed for users from another culture and, what’s more, you can tell.

If you can’t get the information or find the goods or service you need quickly, you’ll almost certainly give up and try to find another site where you can.

This means that if you don’t offer multiple language options, you may start haemorrhaging customers to competitors who do.

6.You build your community

Having customers interacting with your site from all over the world will also be building your community. You will be creating a sense among your clients that you do business across the globe.

The bigger the community you build, the more your customers will want and be able to interact with each other and spread the word about your brand.

7.You meet local language regulations

]Singapore’s various language planning attempts have all aimed to increase effective communication within the community.

But in some countries, this kind of planning has passed into being a legal requirement.

In Canada, for instance, information must – by law – be available in French and English. To what degree each is favoured depends on the territory or state, but it’s still a requirement.

When you do business abroad, legal factors relating to language are vital to consider.

When translating your website into another language, do it right

Multilingual websites give you a great many benefits no matter where you are. In a country like Singapore, this is doubly true.

Just be sure that you get your website localisation done correctly. Automated translation software like Google Translate is not your friend!

A professional translation agency can make sure that the essence of your message is retained when moving from one language to another. Good translators can even translate idioms and metaphors across languages… something Google Translate often fails to manage and you can risk alienating the very people who you were trying to reach out to in the first place.

Have you recently translated your website into another language?

Tell us about your experience below. We always reply to comments.

Or why not ask us a question about website localisation or multilingual websites directly? Contact us at your convenience.