Post a new topic
    19 Replies Latest reply on Dec 26, 2009 9:43 AM by wordperfect

    How many of you have a "bilingual" website?

    LaComunidad Newbie

      Presently we need to be expanding how we market ourselves and to whom we market. We need to know our clients and serve their needs, but what if these potential clients do not speak perfect English? They still need our services and products; right?


      Have you thought about expanding your website to reach a multi-cultural growing economy and consumer base?


      Should our websites be multi-language?


      Maria Smith-Alvira


        • Re: How many of you have a "bilingual" website?
          NatOnline Tracker
          Well, I am French living in US and I think if living in a different country, we must learn the country's language even if we don't write or speak perfectly.

          My site is in English and I don't see the necessity to add the French language on my website because my main target audience is in US. When I promote my site on French sites or on French directories then I wrote in French. I also specify on the French sites that I am a French speaker if some French don't know English and want to contact me in French that's ok.
          • Re: How many of you have a "bilingual" website?
            goodfelas Wayfarer
            this is a great topic

            My opinion if you have a product that is in need of every culture, then i would make my site quadrilingualin. In america the second major speaking language is spanish so my guess is yes definitely put up spanish to your website.



            • Re: How many of you have a "bilingual" website?
              LUCKIEST Guide
              "bilingual" website, YES we do.

              Where are you located??
              <!--Session data-->
              • Re: How many of you have a "bilingual" website?
                amspcs Ranger
                Yes, we have one page on our site devoted entirely to Spanish speakers. While I feel everyone living in this, an English-speaking society, should minimally be able to communicate in English,
                we also appreciate the fact that there are many out there who seek to take advantage of those who have not fully mastered our language by intentionally making their contracts and agreements
                misleading and more complicated than necessary. Presenting all of our important terms and language in Spanish is our way of being as honest and straightforward as possible.

                • Re: How many of you have a "bilingual" website?
                  For public services, I agree, NatOnline, it is beneficial for all in this country to be able to speak English at a basic level. However, when people get to vote with their dollars buying products and services from private companies, they chose to deal with companies that connect best with them - and this often includes dialoguing in the language that they are most comfortable speaking.

                  The key is to identify and define your specific target market - don't go after the "everyone" market or lose sight that there may be variation within your base. If your target base speaks English as a second language, then you should serious consider not only translating your copy, but partner with a pro that understands the cultural dynamics of that particular market.

                  When I learned French and Spanish, one of the first things that teachers taught me was to not try and translate English word-for-word into French or English. It doesn't work. The same holds true for your marketing efforts. For example, a 7th generation US citizen of Irish heritage doesn't have the same frames of reference or hot buttons as a first or second generation immigrant from Mexico. You need to get to know your base or hire a pro to teach you the nuances of your market.

                  All the Best,

                  Doug Dolan
                  The Solopreneur's Guide
                  • Re: How many of you have a "bilingual" website?
                    Iwrite Pioneer
                    I am not planning on my website being bilingual. The hispanic market is not my target. I do not understand or know the Hispanic market well enough to offer my services to them, and it would be unwise for me to do so when there are so many great advertising agencies in the Hispanic community that understands the cultural and ethnic issues that resonates inside it. Marketing and advertising to different groups requires an understanding of a community that is developed from being emersed in the culture. It is more than translating English to Spanish or any other language.

                    Sayings, stories, legends, celebrities and even history do not translate from English to any other language.
                    • Re: How many of you have a
                      877.HMA.FITS Wayfarer

                      One valuable emerging market trend is the growth of the Hispanic market in the United States which provides marketers that have bilingual (English and Spanish) Web sites with incredible insights and incentives to attract Spanish-speaking customers as much as English-speaking customers.


                      Some artciles you might be interested on reading:


                      • Re: How many of you have a "bilingual" website?
                        877.HMA.FITS Wayfarer

                        One valuable emerging market trend is the growth of the Hispanic market in the United States which provides marketers that have bilingual (English and Spanish) Websites with incredible insights and incentives to attract Spanish-speaking as much as English-speaking customers.


                        • Re: How many of you have a "bilingual" website?
                          nikecoo99 Wayfarer
                          our website is in english.Nowadays,english as the first foreign language,most of people (i mean the countries don't use english as the first language )can understand a bit of english.I think the main market is the most important thing,you can choose the language of your site depends on your main market.


                          • Re: How many of you have a "bilingual" website?
                            wordperfect Scout

                            Hmmm, there is no easy way to go around this so I will just jump in with both feet, but please, do not think I am personally attacking anyone here...........


                            First, I guess it does to a large extent depend on your size and who you want to target, if your target is English speaking native Americans and you are a small business with no desire to expand then you don't need any other language.


                            But, and here is just my view, to say "so and so should speak English if they live in US" or UK or anywhere is, I think a little arrogant and, forgive me, narrow minded as I feel it limits your options.


                            If you have a universal product then it should, I feel be market in a way that is universally convenient to your customers. Put it another way, if you are selling eggs, do you just stick 'em in a paper bag and let the customer worry about safety or do you package them in cushioned tray?


                            The latter option is a "convenience" for customers who may have several other bags and runs the risk of bumping and breaking the eggs, you don't NEED to do it, but the customer will appreciate it and maybe buy from you again because you made their life a little easier. It may also open a new market as they will tell their friends and if you are the only one selling eggs who does this then you stand to gain.


                            I think we need to look at the High street brick and mortar model who cater for mothers with pushchairs and parapalegics who cannot manage steps. There are so many examples of businesses offering flexible models to their different market segments so why should language not be one of them?


                            So, that is my view with language, by adding a little extra 'value added service' you are showing that you are in touch with others difficulties and want to try to help them while at the same time expanding your customer base


                            Again, excuse me, but the US and western world economy is not so strong that one can really afford to say: "well learn English or don't bother me" when there are many other non English first language countries that have a strong domestic market and could, with a page in their language, be customers.


                            Also, back to my comment on arrogance, the world may use English as an international language but that doesn't mean that English or English speakers are superior, which is the feeling I get sometimes when people say: " Well you are in MY country, learn MY language." The web is World Wide and we should be breaking down barriers to trade, not throwing up more.... in my view!


                            I do believe that some of the problems wiht the western economic model relate to this English centric viewpoint that we Anglo saxon speakers have and why, by and large, the Europeans, who are multi lingual do so much better in Asia than US or British companies.


                            OK, I have my tin hat and flack jacket on............. go for it!!!


                            Oh yes, sorry, the question, Yes, we do have a bi lingual site, and we are working towards making it tri lingual
                              • Re: How many of you have a "bilingual" website?
                                Iwrite Pioneer
                                Duck and cover!! Incoming!

                                I think it really depends on what your business is. Advertising is different from most businesses. Trying to reach people of different cultures is difficult. Words, phrases, gestures and actions translate differently for each culture. I don't have a bilingual website because I am not equipped to serve that market. A lot of agencies have tried to simply talk to African Americans without someone who understands the culture and gotten it wrong. And African Americans speak English but the culture is slightly different.

                                For me it isn't about making anyone speak English, it is about best serving my clients. Mexican culture is different from Spanish culture which is different from Peruvian culture - because I speak Spanish does not mean I understand the cultures. I mean, everyone thinks they understand American culture but you have advertising agencies that have failed miserably when they try to enter the American market with only European talent. They have observed the culture but they don't really understand it. I'm not even going to talk about Asians, because the Asian community is made up of so many different languages and cultures that it is amazing.

                                Now, there are a lot of businesses that can and should have a bilingual website, but it is a decision that should be based on the target the business is trying to serve, not political correctness. I am not trying to exclude or punish anyone, I simply don't want to hurt my client's business by offending a segment of their market. So, I partner with an agency that specializes in a certain culture. If anyone promises you that they can market to multiple cultures and ethnic groups, be careful!! The largest advertising agencies in America have discovered they can't do that.

                                Even this question isn't right or wrong. Translating a website should be done by someone who understands the language and culture, words and ideas do not always translate as you might intend.

                                My turn to gear up for the attack.
                                  • Re: How many of you have a "bilingual" website?
                                    wordperfect Scout

                                    Fire in the hole!


                                    My comments re "making someone speak / Learn English or any language were really a come back to those who subscribe to the doctrine that English is not just the international language but also "This is Slivopdripland, speak Slivopdriplandish.


                                    I feel it is a little silly from a business point of view if your research shows a certain ethnic or what ever sector are among your primary customers that you should not at least look at making their job of buying your product a little easier.


                                    I think we are in agreement that it does depend on your target market and general business direction.


                                    The other thing you mentioned, different culture nuances is quite valid, we have seen many North American companies come here and try to emulate their home based marketing.... and fail. Even a campaign or position that worked in Taiwan, Japan or Hong Kong is not guaranteed to succeed here.


                                    So yes, it is important to get the language right, not rely on your own school girl / boy Spanish, French or what ever and to match it with the culture. We all know of the US car that translated to Lemon in Spanish and the soap powder ad in Middle East showing dirty clothes going in, nice white cleans one coming out, perfectly simple and effective. Except they read from right to left over there!




                                    To play the Devils advocate, look how effectively Japan, Korea and now China have conquered European markets with their products and advertising material, instructions and web sites that ranges from Chinglish to barely understandable.


                                    They didn't worry about "getting it right" or if the subtle culture differences were taken into consideration or even bothering to try to understand it. They just hire an undergraduate English major, a relative with "some English ability" or use software translation.


                                    Ok, you have hit the nail on the head, which has the opposite meaning in Chinese by the way! when you say the site should be translated by a professional who understand the language and culture.


                                    As is ours, my wife and boss is a native Chinese so she checks all my copy and translates and tidies so it doesn't offend or send the wrong message.


                                    And yes, we have partnered with a few European agencies who need to "get it right" and, he he he are perfectly willing to work with US ones as well! Anyway, my reply was really to the question of: "Do you have a bilingual site?" and yes we do.


                                    My irritation was with those who summarily dismissed it without giving it a second thought .


                                    Fasers down, shields up Scottie.
                                      • Re: How many of you have a "bilingual" website?
                                        Iwrite Pioneer
                                        "Forget the torpedos, ramming speed" I had to use "forget" because the filters would have surely bounce the real quote.


                                        I think we are in complete agreement that if your market calls for it, speak the language. But let's be honest about the majority of the audience on this blog: the majority is cheap and lazy when it comes to executing anything connected to marketing and advertising. They look for an easy way out without really paying fair market value. Now, I am not blaming them because there are plenty of so-called marketing and advertising professionals willing to offer their services at a ridiculous rate. But what that creates is a mentality for taking shortcuts. And when it comes to being bilingual, shortcuts can hurt a business badly.

                                        I am not being harsh but I am tired of dancing around this, these folks spend tons of money on supplies, salaries, equipment and other things but when it comes to the effort to generate business and make money (marketing and advertising) they go cheap or not at all. If they continue this trend with the translating of their site - imagine the results?

                                        Cheap gets you cheap. There is an American saying, "you get what you paid for." I have seen big companies ignore culture, and get someone who studied the language in college or even high school to translate their site only for it to blow up in their face. I don't expect any better from the people on this blog.

                                        Some of them resent having to even translate the site, so what kind of effort do you expect from them?

                                        You were so right to address those who are basing their decision on anything other than business. They are being short sighted at best. I am glad you spoke up.

                                        My issue wasn't really with you but I saw an opportunity to add some more insight to this issue. There are legitimate reasons to and not to translate a site into another language but that decision should be business based.


                                        Here is a whole list of mistakes made al over the world from not understanding the culture -

                                        "Sulu, get us out of here!"
                                          • Re: How many of you have a "bilingual" website?
                                            wordperfect Scout

                                            Well, forget me Derek, you rammed the entire forgetting board!


                                            You do hit hard, i thought The Diva and I shared the monopoly of shooting from the hip. But no problem, I didn't take anything you said as a personal attack, I enjoy this board, it is a great chance for me to get into the "real world" so to speak and I learn a lot just from reading the various posts, even if I don't comment.


                                            Thanks for the link, it brought back memories.


                                            You have been around here a lot longer than me so probably have more experience. But actually, I have noticed from time to time that some of the posts here are a little, err, naive I suppose and seem to be searching for freebies without offering too much in return, so i take your point.


                                            In a way i agree with you regarding the so called advertising professionals and as we have discussed in another thread with Sir whoever his name was.... I still believe to a large degree it is we in the advertising or marketing industry who are to blame. In many ways the industry has painted themselves as some sort of superior demi god, glittering glass towers, lavish lifestyles and beyond the mere business man. These are difficult time so the advertising industry has to look at where its clients are and come down to meet them, something we have tried to introduce with our Angel Venture Marketing service earlier this year.


                                            It is also, I believe, human nature, well maybe Anglo Saxon nature, to try the "do it yourself" approach, I qualify that because from my experience, Asian people are quicker to call in a pro than maybe we are. I am not so sure it is because of laziness or cash constraints, just part of our "pioneering spirit" maybe?


                                            But yes, again, like you, I do find it extremely frustrating when foreign companies come here to China and try to carry on the same as they did back home, sorry, mostly US not European clients We have seen more than one or two potentially good businesses crash and burn here because they simply refused to bend.... anyway, I digress. Again!


                                            Ahhh, AMERICAN expression? Hmmm, I haven't checked its etymological roots but know the expression as "You GETS what you pay for" but either way I suspect it has, like most of our idioms, been around as an economic observation for a bit longer than the US or even English!


                                            Anyway, we do agree on the basic answer to the posters question, yes, we have a bilingual site because our service is offered to more than one language speakers, and it is as I said, written by Yishan as she is the native Chinese in the partnership.


                                            One last point to clarify though is, that having a second language doesn't actually mean simply trying to translate word for word form English to what ever, that is a recipe for disaster. As others have said as well, that simply doesn't work, you need to take the GIST of what you want to convey and base your translation on that. There maybe, and in our case often is, quite a difference between what the Chinese pages say and the English, but they all drive the same point. It is really strategic marketing, the what, how and to whom are you addressing your message. I think this was a point missed by some who commented.


                                            Ok, Mr Sulu, set course for home, warp factor 11 Scottie, the bridge is yours Mr Spock.
                                              • Re: How many of you have a "bilingual" website?
                                                seoservicepro Ranger
                                                Just make sure you do not use any auto-translators to translate your website. It will just make your business look foolish. You need cultural translations into other languages, not just a word-for-word translation. Sales can come down to cultural differences. The same sales pitch translated word for word into another language will not necessarily convert sales at the same rate you were converting sales in your first language.

                                                Example: Someone who lives in France and French is their first language knows how to rewrite your website in French and add the nuances they need to add to help you convert sales in France. Just knowing how to speak and write French is not enough. You need an understanding of how to sell to French people.

                                                The same goes for each country you want to target. When we build a version to target a particular country, we collaborate with someone who understandsmarketing in that country. It is more expensive to do it this way, but it is way more effective.
                                                  • Re: How many of you have a "bilingual" website?
                                                    wordperfect Scout

                                                    Hello Chris, good to hear from you.


                                                    Also great to hear an SEO business confirming the points I made. In recent years SEO companies can be listed with the ad companies I mentioned, many make outlandish claims and prey on the ignorance of most SME's. This spawned a lot of cowboys just out for a quick buck so nice to hear from some one with a realistic attitude.


                                                    WPBeijing China Marketing has native English, Chinese and Russian directors and native Chinese colleagues. I have an English language education degree, 30+ years of sales and marketing and have lived and worked in various non English speaking countries, here in China for close on 10 years, so have first hand experience of how languages translate and the mistakes many overseas companies make when they try to enter the China market.


                                                    The bottom line, as I see it it is, if your market research shows you have a significant customer base who are not English users then it is worth exploring the possibility of adding a page in their language. This should be a business decision, as I-Write mentioned, not based on personal feelings of cultural superiority.


                                                    You are correct when you say that for many locally based, as in UK, USA or France companies the solution is to team up with a specialised business in the target country, but it is unfortunate your web site paints a negative picture of developing or "third world "countries as you call them.


                                                    Playing the "fear" card is usually the game played by those who are, for various reasons, unable to compete and to some extent my friend, shows a lack of knowledge and understanding of the situation. I felt this blanket generalisation in your site was really not in tune with the generally positive upbeat image you have carefully crafted. I know many businesses in some countries are struggling now and trying to protect their own, but really, they have been the masters of their own undoing by ignoring the signs from years ago and continuing with their decadent, wasteful lifestyle.


                                                    I would take a little issue with the again wide generalisation that: "It is more expensive to do it this way, but it is way more effective." Definitely far more effective but expensive? When we work with overseas companies our fee structure is based on local currency making us extremely cost effective and competitive, of course, what the overseas host company adds to our fee as as back end loading is up to them.


                                                    We would welcome you, or any company who has clients or is thinking of the China market and needs "culturally" as well as language correct translation to contact us and discuss your needs, perhaps we can prove that "Third World" countries can be trusted partners, not feared adversaries.


                                                  • Re: How many of you have a "bilingual" website?
                                                    snvservices Wayfarer
                                                    Having bilingual website is good to have as, it is very good to target local area as people over there will get more comfortable with the bilingual site so, if you have a site targeting us people and you want to get a traffic from other country like korea then simply copying your site in that language is beneficial for the local people.

                                                    <!--Session data-->
                                          • Re: How many of you have a "bilingual" website?
                                            You should definitely have a bilingual site. If you're on wordpress, there's a plugin that makes it easy to do. My best friend-- is written in English and Spanish. Every post is translated in Spanish and it's the Spanish version of the article that actually gets more traffic.

                                              • Re: How many of you have a "bilingual" website?
                                                wordperfect Scout

                                                We had the same experience, although out main site was Chinese, we had a few basic English pages and it surprised me the amount of traffic that the English pages attracted, even more amazing when you think we did not promote those in any way.


                                                That was the reason why we made our site totally bilingual with separate English pages and both languages together on the home page. Time will tell if this works or not.