Many businesses know that free applications such as Google Translate can damage a reputation abroad, as many nonsensical phrases and sentences make website copy look amateur and unprofessional. Of course, professional translation is always the best route to take in order to launch in another language at a native level, thus instilling trust from the outset.
A perfect translation does bring a healthy return on the investment in the services, but global copywriters will tell you that translation within the global ecommerce industry is more than just words.
If you are a UK company your professional web copy probably has many calls to action, it appeals to many UK residents, uses subtle British humour and follows the UK moral code. Your copywriter would have researched your target market to speak to your audience in a language they can identify with in order to attract, engage and retain their attention for your business benefit. Now consider taking this exact copy over to China. Translating it word for word, and sentence by sentence, would the Chinese appreciate the humour, the frequent calls to action, the unique voice (when hiring a copywriter in the UK many business owners use the Innocent Smoothie voice as an example of what they’re looking for), and the social media references?
Ten Cents for Your Thoughts
In China, Facebook doesn’t exist. As Facebook is one of the most powerful social media marketing tools it is often found on many homepages, referenced (join our Facebook community) and taken for granted that everyone has an account. This is just one example, as the Chinese government won’t let you launch a website with any mention of this. The Chinese do have a social network; it’s called tencent, and you should learn about it to succeed in the market.
In the UK and in the United States, we know that corporate language doesn’t transfer well onto the web. Customers prefer conversational copy that draws them in and entertains rather than stuffy, formal copy that leaves them a little cold. In China the opposite is true. While copywriters urge clients here not to confuse professionalism with formality, in China, formal, strict and ultra-corporate copy is favoured for websites selling online.
China is not the only region to be wary of, though. Even if you are launching a website in an English-speaking country, there are still other factors to consider. US audiences appreciate direct, full-on calls to action with bold claims while the UK audience prefer subtle reassurances of quality. This is why, when choosing a translation company for your business needs, make sure that you choose one that actually understands how business works around the world.