I’m going to let you in on a big secret: Not every business needs to translate its entire website in order to reach customers that don’t speak their native language.
On a sheet of paper, make a list in one column for all of the pages on your website. Each of these pages is a way to reach out to customers, right? Do you have some landing pages online? Include those, too.
Now think about which services/products you want to offer to people who speak a language other than the one your website currently uses. Put these products and services in a column next to the one you made for outreach methods.
As an exercise, draw a line between each product and the online pages you currently use to promote it to customers. Some products may have multiple lines connecting them to various pages. Once you have gone through all of the products and services you wish to offer to customers outside of your native language, look at the first column of website and landing pages.
Are there any pages that have no lines connecting them to a product or service you want to offer in another language? Which pages are those? Consider if you will really need those pages translated for your purposes. Of course, your contact information and a small “about us” section will be important, whether these are translated and combined onto a separate home page, or incorporated into a single page of information for that language.
There are three main options available to you:
- Translate the entire website.
- Translate only the pages of the website relevant to the products you wish to offer in another language (as derived from the above exercise).
- Have a translator create a single landing page that does the duty of a translated website, including a hero image/hero space, listing of services, information about you and your business expertise, a few testimonials, and contact information.
As for how you will get people to visit the newly-translated pages, you will need translations of the methods you will use to drive traffic to your translated online presence. If I receive a marketing email in Italian, chances are I wouldn’t expect to understand any of the materials on the website.
Some businesses send bilingual marketing emails or newsletters. The optimal format for a bilingual email or newsletter would have a statement at the top, stating “Scroll down for the ___________-language translation.” That allows you to send one email or newsletter to one list. Other businesses upload blog posts in each language separately, promoting each in separate social media updates. Still other businesses have separate newsletter email lists for each language.
Think about which services and products you’ll offer in another language, then think about how those customers will use your website. Finally, think about the methods you will use to attract those customers in the first place. Once you ask yourself those questions, it will become clear which of the above options will be most appropriate for your business.
Bernadette Geyer provides writing, copy editing, and translation services for small businesses, entrepreneurs, and writers. She also leads online workshops on a variety of topics for small businesses and writers. Geyer likes being a small fish in a big pond, and enjoys helping others move to bigger ponds themselves. Subscribe to her monthly news from the big pond if you’re interested in professional growth.
Geyer’s No Time Guide series of online guides for small businesses offers simple, jargon-free guides to small business owners and nonprofits who want to grow, but don’t have a lot of time.