Going Multilingual in The World of Ecommerce: Are You Ready?

  • By Ashley Kimler
  • 14-10-2021
  • E-commerce
world of ecommerce

If you want to scale your eCommerce store and truly make a success of it, the chances are that you’ll need to reach a global audience.

And unless you go multilingual, you won’t be able to do this.

The good news is that going multilingual doesn’t mean that you’ll need to learn several new languages (phew!). But it does mean you’ll need to restructure your content marketing strategy, your SEO strategy, and more.

Yup, you can’t simply implement Google Translate and expect customers from all over the world to suddenly start buying from you (sad, I know).

In this article, we’ll be taking a look at exactly what you need to do to extend your global reach so that you’re able to build relationships with new customers, and make more sales.

Determine Where Your Audience is Located

The thing with going multilingual is that there’s no point marketing your website in different languages unless you know which countries you should be targeting.

In other words, where does your audience live?

People are searching for your products (as well as products sold by your competitors), and it’s really important that you identify your hottest markets so that you can sell to them while ignoring the rest.

The best way to learn more about your audience is to delve into your analytics. Google Analytics is a free tool that comes with an Audience Reports feature that lets you delve into all kinds of things, including location, language and demographics. Only once you have this information can you then put together a proper multilingual eCommerce strategy.

Localize Your Websites

Nowadays, people want a highly personalized customer experience. This means that, when they enter an eCommerce store, they want to see content and product recommendations that are tailored to them specifically.

International customers, meanwhile, would prefer it if your content was localized, too.

What does this mean?

For example, if a shopper living in Australia arrives at your online store and finds that it’s geared towards American audiences, they might exit pretty quickly. But if they find that you’ve taken the effort to make them feel welcome with content that’s relevant to their national identity, they might stick around longer.

Creating a number of different homepages will take a bit of time and effort initially. But it’s well worth it if it boosts your bounce rate and ultimately your conversions.
Create a Multilingual Optimization Strategy

The only way you’ll have a chance of ranking in your targeted country search engines is if you create a multilingual optimization strategy.

This means fine-turning your URL structure so that it includes the country or region, as well as creating content in your target country’s language.

URLs are super important because they’re so easy to overlook. And when you overlook them, you can end up with duplicate content that not only means you miss out on our target audience, but which also leads to a Google penalty.  

You should also look to apply language tags - otherwise known as hreflang attributes - that help Google figure out the language of the page (as well as which country it’s targeted at). You can submit these tags using a sitemap, or you can insert them into the header section of your pages.

It’s also a very good idea to not use more than one language on each page if you can help it. Some eCommerce store owners might be tempted to translate just the main content while leaving the navigation text as it is. But it’s super important that you add hreflang attributes to clarify the target language.

Not just that, but using more than language on the same page is not only bad for SEO purposes, it’s also bad for the user experience.

On a final point, as well as working on the main content of your pages, you must also make sure to translate your metadata. Metadata—such as your meta description and title tags—are key pieces of text that can help you rank better. It’s important that you take care of them so that they match the language of your intended audience, and entice them into your store.

Create a Multilingual Blog

Creating a multilingual blog can sound like a lot of work. But here’s the thing: Content marketing is one of the best ways to generate more leads. Via content marketing, you can educate your audience, build brand awareness, position yourself as the leader in your niche, engage them and develop relationships.

But ultimately, your content marketing efforts will fail globally unless you go multilingual.

Is there an easy route to making your blogs multilingual?

It really depends on which web hosting provider you use. Going multilingual with your blogs certainly isn’t the same as translating articles. This is because simply translating articles don’t take into consideration cultural context and crucially, SEO (keywords in particular). Some web hosts, though, such as WordPress, do have specific features that make creating multilingual blogs a bit easier.  

That said, going multilingual with your blog requires a solid understanding of your audience, including their culture. It also requires you to work with content writers who specialize in your target languages, as well as a team who are able to help you avoid duplicate content and other critical mistakes (such as choosing the wrong keywords).
Work on Your Social Media

A huge chunk of the world now uses social media, which means that - no matter which country you’re targeting - you need to nail your multilingual social media marketing campaigns.

Naturally, this can sound as daunting as creating a multilingual blog at first. How do you engage multiple target countries on social media without working 24/7?

As we mentioned before, it’s first of all important that you understand who you’ll be targeting. You can learn more about your audience and where they’re located by checking your social media analytics.

Then, once you understand your audience more you can decide which social channels to use in order to best reach them, before creating separate accounts for each one. This can be a time consuming process and it may require you to put together a fairly large team. But it will prevent you from sending out mixed messages to different audiences, while at the same time allowing you to develop relationships and make more sales.

It’s definitely a smart idea to work with professional translators because the last thing you want to do is disrespect your audience by posting content that is clearly in a broken version of their language.

Sorting out your social media should in theory be easier than creating multilingual blog posts because you don’t need to be constantly using as many words. For example, you can create a number of short form posts and ads on the likes of Instagram and Facebook that, when done right, can create meaningful relationships with customers around the world. You don’t need to use many words - you just need to use the right ones.

Establish Multilingual Customer Service

Customer support is super important for any eCommerce store. And not only do customers expect near-instant responses from your customer service team when they’re shopping online, they also expect a personalized experience that’s preferably in their language.

This isn’t easy to do manually (it’s pretty much impossible!). The good news is that there are tools to help you out. For example,  could use a chat API that enables you to build a customized chat solution as part of an app that has multiple agents. These agents all speak different languages that accommodate different customers, thereby providing exceptional customer support.
Wrapping Up

A multilingual eCommerce venture gives you a chance of scaling and growing your online store in ways that wouldn’t be possible if you stayed focused on a local audience.

The hard work starts now. Going multilingual is far from easy and there are challenges ahead. But if you can put together the right team and use the right tools and technology, things will get much easier once you’ve then got processes and systems in place.

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Ashley Kimler

Ashley Kimler is the founder of CopyNoise. She's been working remotely in the tech space since 2014. Interested in getting her advice on your blog? She's always looking for the opportunity to share her perspective with new communities!