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Professional Website Translation: 5 Reasons to Do It (and Do It Well)

Why professional website translation is so important to get your product known, loved and sold in Russia (and elsewhere).

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Nowadays the Internet is essential for internationalisation: it works to give visibility to your company, promote your products and services, gain popularity and new customers and to sell online worldwide.

And in this sea of possibilities and beautiful promises, what is the importance of professional website translation?

To get a thorough understanding of its role, we have carried out a survey, analysed the responses and identified five reasons why translating websites into Russian is fundamental for those who want to work and sell in Russia.

Let’s start!

The study in brief:

I will not dwell on all the details of the study and prefer to immediately get to the gist of it, so I'll just give some numbers: 1 survey of 10 questions was posted for 30 days on Facebook and LinkedIn. We received 118 completed surveys from frequent Internet users in Russia among which, no doubt, are some of your potential customers!

OK, now let’s see the five reasons why professional website translation is so important.

1) English is not enough!

Provided that your company doesn’t want to sell only in the USA, Ireland or other countries where English is the official language, English content is not enough.

Only 11% of respondents said that it’s not important to have text in Russian while purchasing online.

What does this mean?

It means that not everybody knows English and, more importantly, that even those who know it do not always have the time or want to bother to read English content.

It’s exactly what former German Chancellor Willy Brandt once said: "If I am selling to you, then I speak your language, aber wenn du mir etwas verkaufst, dann du muβt Deutsch sprechen" (... but if you want to sell something to me, then you must speak German.)

As demonstrated in our study, the same applies to the Russian language (and many other languages as confirmed by the Language Guide for European Business) especially when it comes to the Internet.

Moral: If you want Russian users to have interest in your company or brand, to buy your product after reading the description, or to read your articles, then you have to translate them into Russian!

2) Professional translation – professional look

Let’s be honest: would you go to a business meeting in slippers? If your answer is "yes," then you can stop reading right here.

If you thought "no, never," then you will be interested to know that a poorly translated text or, even worse, a text translated with Google Translate (yes, it still happens) looks exactly like a salesperson in slippers.

The strategy of "better bad than nothing" works only with 20% of our survey respondents. The remaining 80% answered that it’s better not to translate the website than translating it badly and that a poor translation only makes the text difficult to read and understand.

But there’s something even worse than that …

The majority of respondents (62.6%) stated that unprofessionally or machine-translated content published on a website negatively or very negatively affects the potential customer’s perception of the company, its products and/or services.

Moral: Don’t just talk about quality, reliability, attention to detail and excellent customer service. You have to prove it! And professional website translation is a great way to do it. Remember, I'm not the one saying this; your potential customers are!

3) Show interest to get interest

While analysing the results of the survey, we noticed an interesting fact.

When we asked respondents whether the presence of a Russian version was important while browsing the website of a foreign company, nearly half (45.8%) indicated, among other things, that a Russian version "demonstrates the company's attention to and interest in Russian-language speakers."

Although this may seem obvious, it’s not to everybody. The user who finds a website translated into his/her mother tongue becomes "well disposed" towards the company. And this is a really important aspect of the Internet, where on average it takes 3 seconds to decide whether to close a page or keep reading.

Moral: Translating your website into Russian not only helps users to read, understand and become interested, but it makes clear that you want them to read, and that you are ready and interested in selling to them in Russian.

4) Professional translation and web marketing

Those who work in the field know this: even though online promotion strategies such as PPC, SMM, SEO, content marketing, and link building are used to achieve different objectives, they are all based on the same thing: words.

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Usually, texts to be published on blogs, ads and websites are written, reviewed, tested and then rewritten to achieve the desired result.

This is a really demanding task that can be completely frustrated by a non-professional translation.

Let’s see why.

In total, 72% of respondents answered that they are not willing to read a poorly written text in Russian. This has an impact on many aspects of a company’s online promotion strategy. Here are some:

  • If poorly written, your ads will be clicked on less, which means the effectiveness of your advertising campaign will be lower and its cost higher. Indeed, Yandex (the most used search engine in Russian-speaking countries) doesn’t even allow ads that contain errors! 
  • Let’s assume that a user has read a post of yours on your social channels. If it’s poorly written and difficult to read, most likely he/she won’t share it. 
  • Can you imagine on-page SEO applied to a text with grammatical and syntactical errors? In such case, it is unlikely your page would appear in the top results of an organic search. 
  • If the purpose of content marketing is to retain the user for as long as possible on your site by showing that you are an expert in the field, a bad translation will produce exactly the opposite effect. 
  • Only a few people will be willing to mention, recommend and link their site to your content if it is hard to read and understand.

Moral: International online promotion strategy is very important BUT must be accompanied by a language strategy.

5) Professional translation and online sales

One of the major objectives of e-commerce is to allow the user to perceive the website as safe and reliable. For this task, product descriptions play a fundamental role. Almost 90% of respondents to our survey chose products whose descriptions were correctly written in Russian, preferring them to identical products whose descriptions contained errors.

Professionally translating content for an online store not only emphasises the reliability of the website, but gives the store a real advantage over competitors who have not shown enough concern for the linguistic aspect.

Also, if you're thinking of selling online in Russia with a website in English, keep in mind that this will reduce the number of your potential customers: 81.7% of respondents would never buy medicine without being able to read a description in their own language, 37.4% wouldn’t buy technological products, 33.9% wouldn’t buy tourism services, 33% wouldn’t buy food, 20.9% wouldn’t book a hotel and 20% wouldn’t buy clothes.

Moral: Just as in the "real" world, what you say and how you say it in online sales play a fundamental role on a potential customer’s decision to purchase your product or service.

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To sum up, if you plan to work in the Russian market, be sure to translate and localise your content, but above all, ensure that your website translation is professional.

Our study focuses on Russia. We have no available data on Internet users from other countries, but let's be honest: which of us, given the choice, would prefer to read something not in our native language?

Did I forget anything?

Do you have any questions about this article, or do you not agree with my viewpoints?

Let me know below or write us at info@balalaika-bs.com!

Fausto


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