Multilingual customers have rewritten the rules on how they interact with the brands they know and love. More than ever, they use social media, mobile apps, search engines, email marketing and digitized content to learn about the brands with which they want to do business. This means your buyer and customer experience shouldn’t end with a translated website—it should begin with it.

This section offers a comprehensive view of the marketing and rev-gen channels that often generate meaningful engagement when translated content is consumed by multilingual customers. And it offers actionable insights into the best ways to activate those channels with translated content, such as:

Reasons to Translate Your Digital Customer Experience: Your multilingual customers expect more touchpoints from your brand than ever, and they have unique needs that should be addressed. You’ll learn about the might of the mobile-first multilingual customer, the importance of oft-overlooked channels such as email and SMS campaigns, why your SEO efforts should trend Google’s search engine, and more.

Mobile App Translation: We’ll provide a non-geeky look at the kinds of codebases that power modern mobile apps, and the best technologies to use to translate them for end-users.

Best Practices for Engaging U.S. Spanish-Speakers: You’ll get a few tips for properly managing—and promoting—your localized brand on social media and beyond.

Global Virtual Marketplaces: These websites are popular in many international markets and are the overwhelmingly preferred online shopping experience for locals. Operating digital storefronts in international “virtual malls” makes great business sense—especially with translated product content. We’ll share more info about virtual marketplaces, and how your in-market localized website can help generate more business in these marketplaces.

SEO Keywords and Localized Sitemaps: You’ll snag a few great tips on the nuances of international SEO, and how translating your sitemap boosts regional SEO and generates other benefits.

Document Translation: Most multilingual buyers and customers expect a fully translated, cross-media user experience: they want localized websites, marketing material, store signage, support documentation, and more. We’ll give you the inside track on the most important capabilities a vendor should have to properly translate this mission-critical content.

On-Site UX Optimizations: Great translations will help get multilingual customers to your localized website. But what’ll keep them there? We’ve got the skinny on such capabilities as intelligent language preference detection (a kind of linguistic “welcome mat” that greets site visitors in their preferred languages), localized on-site search, URL translation and more.

Customer-Facing Localization Tools: Vendors should give customers the ability to review and revise their website translations at any time. But customers can soon learn that not all customer-facing translation tools are created equal. We’ll provide a list of must-have features to look for as you examine this important aspect of a vendor’s software.

Portal Experiences: Website translation is technically challenging … but translating secure login experiences can be harder. Your customer portal is tuned for your company’s unique needs, and the wrong translation vendor won’t be able to replicate that UX in other languages. We’ll tell you what technical capabilities to look for in a technically savvy, reputable vendor.

Reasons to Translate Your Digital Customer Experience

Mobile-first customers are becoming more common. In some parts of the world, desktop and laptop use still drives customer relationships. But Y customers in most multilingual markets have become mobile-first, or mobile-dominant. To reach these people the right way, you need content that’s translated and optimized for mobile consumption.

Social media platforms vary from market to market in terms of presence and influence. American-based businesses know that Facebook dominates the U.S. social media space. But the situation can be vastly different in international markets, where regional platforms are often preferred or even required. You’ll want to deploy your translated content to any international social network, anytime, without missing a beat.

Search engine results can vary widely in global markets. There are regional preferences for search engines, too. Google dominates in much of the world, but not so in China, which favors Baidu. Russia prefers Yandex. To optimize your translated content for international search engines, it should include preferred keywords and metadata elements for each market.

Multimedia continues to dominate content consumption. Increasingly, high-performing and engaging content includes video, photos and downloadable assets like e-books and white papers. While you may be investing a lot of money creating this kind of content for your primary market, your customers are missing out if you aren’t offering them multimedia content in the languages they prefer.

Offline documentation is still critical. Despite the popularity of the web, customers still rely on offline documents, such instruction manuals. Signage, product descriptions, brochures, research papers and any other offline marketing materials should also be part of a comprehensive translation plan to support your customers.

Other channels where translation makes sense:

  • Personalized and localized email communication allows you to offer geographically tailored promotions or offers in your customers’ languages
  • Engaging them with localized apps and even SMS campaigns can help you capture attention in the channels they prefer
  • Even content such as downloadable guides, brochures or catalogs are ripe for translation so your multilingual customers can get accurate, relevant and helpful information about your offerings—and so your sales teams can leverage it, too

Let’s take a closer look at the ways you can extend your localized CX and engage multilingual customers in entirely new and effective ways.

Automatic Language Preference Detection

Multilingual customers typically get to your company’s website by:

  • Typing its URL into a web browser
  • Clicking on a digital ad
  • Following a link from a third-party website

These activities usually send multilingual customers to your company’s origin website, which may not immediately display options of availability in other languages.

In fact, UX studies reveal that if a multilingual customer struggles to find a localized content via a “language toggle” or other hard-to-find UI element, they’re more likely to abandon their visit before it’s even begun.

Technology can help here. Look for a translation solution that can automatically analyze inbound traffic to your localized website and ask visitors if they’d like to view the version of your site that’s published in their preferred languages.

This virtual “welcome mat” can make a significant, and positive, impact on the performance of your localized website. It delivers a more relevant customer experience, which often results in reduced bounce rates, increased engagement and higher conversion rates. Great solutions remember the user’s language preference for return visits, too.

Translated On-Site Search

Localized website On-Site Search technology is another great CX optimization that directs multilingual customers to what they’re looking for more quickly. This reduces bounce rates and boosts conversions.

Look for vendors that offer localized On-Site Search (OSS) that can:

  • Make the OSS capability of your multilingual sites as responsive as that of your origin website
  • Optimize OSS for frequently searched keywords that reflect the interests of local users
  • Reduce translation costs by accessing translated segments already available in your translation memory
  • Monitor customer activity and site performance to ensure the on-site search configuration remains accurate and relevant

URL Translation

Look for vendors with technology that can parse URLs and translate them for an improved CX. While URL translation doesn’t typically affect SEO rankings, it does improve the user experience since users can read the URL in their preferred languages.

In the event that the page’s title was not visible, or a URL is shared via a link, the URL path can provide the user with a clearer and more readable path that they can recognize easily. URL structures should be treated like “breadcrumb paths” so they can be easily read and understood.

Well-formed URLs are more visually appealing when used in social situations where the link is highly visible and cannot be accompanied with or masked with a specific title or description.

Customer-Facing Localization Tools

You should always be able to exert editorial and creative control over your translations, especially when those linguistic changes create a more relevant CX for customers. Look for vendors that provide customer-facing translation tools that empower you to:

  • Navigate and review the full scope of their localized websites
  • Provide linguistic feedback to your translation team
  • Personally revise translations for improved clarity, word choice, etc.
  • Review feedback and edits performed by your own team members
  • Review their project’s localized Glossary and Style Guide resources

The best tools provide a “live view” of translations in relation to how they appear alongside on-page images, menus and other design elements.

Great vendors also provide tools that enable customers to replace standardized translated content with impactful customized content (aka localizations) that caters to a market’s unique culture and buying preferences. Using such tools, customers can publish localized campaign content, replace translated phrases with more regionally relevant words or lingo, and more.

Why Document Translation is Important

Ideally, organizations should translate downloadable content such as sales material, marketing material, store signage, training material, support documentation and more. Customers expect these assets to be available in their preferred languages; overlooking this critical CX element can disrupt an otherwise immersive, impactful user experience.

Unfortunately, not all translation vendors can efficiently or effectively translate this important content. Look for these capabilities as you investigate translation options:

Full-Stack Translation Solution: Choose solutions that include all technologies and processes needed for translation, including project management, desktop publishing, proofreading, quality control and more. Design teams should use state-of-the-art tools to meticulously re-create the look and feel of your documents for any market, in any language.

Honors the Source Material: Designers should craft the perfect localized page layout and readability that matches the appearance of the original document—and the visual verve of your brand.

Rigorous Quality Control: Look for QA procedures that are rigorous from start to finish. Documents should be checked against originals for conformity in look, tone and style. Great vendors always look for typos, too.

Secure Login Experiences (Patient Portal Translation, Customer Portal Translation, etc.)

Translating your secure portals or login areas for multilingual customers, employees and partners is an easy and powerful way to generate business-boosting benefits , including:

  • Increased customer satisfaction and engagement, along with reduced customer service costs
  • Higher probability of successful upsell and cross-sell conversions
  • Clear communication and training content for multilingual employees
  • Improved relationships with regional distributors and other business partners

Look for Great Vendors with Great Technology

Of course, it’s important to choose a portal translation vendor that understands translation … but it’s even more important for the vendor to have expertise in technology.

Consider the complex code and applications that may power your own origin portal. Depending on the portal’s purpose, it must deliver on key expectations such as:

  • Flawless performance and security, especially when presenting personalized information
  • Accurate product information for customer support, service providers and business partners, reliably delivered via databases or product feeds
  • Expedient delivery of sales and training content for employees

Those needs, and others, informed the choice of portal platform you now use. It also sparked requirements for design, interactivity and more, which were addressed with more technical integrations.

Other goals—for instance, e-commerce functionality—required even more integrations. Your portal is now tuned for your unique needs. But in the hands of underqualified portal translation vendors, your finely tuned machine won’t function properly. For instance:

  • Portal platforms that use translation connectors experience reliability issues because connectors often break when tech stacks change
  • Undercooked solutions create technical logjams, forcing vendors to shift enormous technical tasks onto their customers’ IT teams
  • These vendors can’t properly parse website code and applications, resulting in a localized UX that malfunctions, isn’t fully translated, or both

Look for vendors with superior technology, built with the express purpose of minimizing operational complexity for their customers. The best solutions operate independently of your technology stack and optimize the translation process for accuracy and cost savings. They should also:

  • Have industry-leading content detection and parsing capabilities
  • Be fully compatible with complex web applications, often powered by JavaScript
  • Can handle dynamic content (which is often “hidden” in databases) and proactively translate this content once, store it in a translation memory, and never have to translate it again
  • Leverage pattern-recognition technologies to identify segment repetition (which often appears as sentences or headlines within predictable template-like structures across multiple pages) and proactively translate those segments to dramatically reduce translation costs

Speed to Market

A final consideration to ensure an optimized CX is superior speed to market, particularly concerning the day-to-day operations of your multilingual website.

It’s not unusual for many organizations to add new website content on a daily basis, and it’s often something critical, such as new products or services. Every day your multilingual customers don’t know about those offerings—and every day your local salespeople can’t support customers in-market—you’re losing money.

Ideally, new or updated content, regardless of medium, should be identified for translation, translated, edited, QA’d and published in about one business day. That’s a translation turnaround that keeps pace with your online business.

Read more about website translation in our ultimate guide to website translation.