This is Part 2 in a 2-part series. Read Part 1 here.
On Wednesday, we introduced the importance of cultural fluency—a nuanced knowledge of global markets that transcends translation—and the critical role it plays in generating brand trust, and increasing engagement, conversion and revenue for companies entering new markets online.
Today, we pick up our conversation with Omar El Ali, a Global Online Strategist for MotionPoint's Global Growth team. We'll explore how cultural fluency informs best practices for localized social media marketing, conversion rate optimization, and more.
In-Language Social Media Marketing
"Regardless of what country we might hail from, it's human nature to share information, stories and experiences," Omar says. "Long ago, we used to do this around the glow of the campfire. Now we do it around the glow of our smartphones and laptops."
Naturally, most of this sharing is unfolding on social media. As in Western markets, worldwide social media adoption rates are skyrocketing. For instance: there are now over 2.2 billion active social media users worldwide—a global penetration rate of nearly one-third. That rate will increase by nearly 25% by 2018.
With the American market successfully conquered, Facebook is aggressively expanding into overseas markets. The network adds a half-million users every day; nearly 85% of its users are live in markets beyond North America.
Research suggests that mobile users in the Asia-Pacific region are driving much of the most recent social-network adoption. East Asian markets lead the world in number of new Internet users, with South Asia coming in second. Even in mature overseas markets, social media rules supreme. According to a government survey, nearly 60% of the Japanese population are social media users. (Of those who own smartphones, over 90% access social networks through their mobile devices.)
This rapid adoption and activity makes a big impact on companies, particularly those that want to expand into new global markets online. Social is the way to quickly establish and maintain brand awareness and loyalty in markets both new and old.
"It's a best practice for companies to translate their social media posts for new online markets," Omar says. "This makes it almost effortless for new customers to find their content, and share this information in their language of choice, on their devices of choice."
We translate and localize companies’ social media elements—such as Google-readable metadata, Twitter Cards and Facebook Open Graph metadata. Of the bunch, Facebook’s protocol is by far the most influential: the network has nearly 1.6 billion global users. In contrast, Twitter has 320 million users worldwide.
"While most brands look at social media solely as a way to generate traffic to their corporate social media profiles, we subscribe to another theory at MotionPoint," Omar says. "Our hypothesis is when users share content on social media, they're doing more than simply providing brand or product information. They're creating an incremental source of traffic to the brand's translated global site. Over the long-term, this becomes key for a site's success."
This is especially true during holidays and special occasions, Omar explains, when users spend more time with family and friends—and want to share their experiences with the world.
We recently witnessed this first-hand when a major retailer, which recently expanded into the Middle East / North African (MENA) region with stores and localized websites. The company was smartly offering "share to Facebook" functionality on its Arabic site's product pages, but this feature fell short in one key respect. When customers went to share the product information with Facebook friends, the content was shared in English. This created a serious linguistic disconnect between the brand, its brand-evangelizing customers, and their Facebook contacts.
MotionPoint replaced this English-language Open Graph metadata with Arabic content. The result: traffic generated from Facebook to the client's MENA sites immediately increased. In fact, during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, referral traffic from Facebook surged a jaw-dropping 1,410%.
MotionPoint has also helped UK-based online retailers reach new Japanese customers through a Facebook page serving the Japanese market. This localized content has really resonated: mere weeks after its debut, hundreds of Japanese users commented and shared their own posts on the Facebook page, and thousands more have Liked posts and photos.
When another UK retailer launched a Dutch e-commerce site, we helped localize content for its in-market Facebook page, and helped manage a targeted, in-language social media ad campaign. This helped drive over 20,000 consumers to the new Dutch site, contributing to a 100,000+ user traffic windfall for its first month in market.
Optimizing Conversions, In Language
MotionPoint has also leveraged authentic, native-friendly translations to optimize the conversion and transaction experiences on global e-commerce websites.
"Convincing global users to visit your localized site through channels such as social is only the first half of the battle," Omar says. "The second half is converting this traffic into sales or other conversions."
We’ve helped companies achieve this in new markets with localized conversion rate optimization (CRO), which can be leveraged at different places on a customer’s decision-making journey, and purchasing process.
Just as in your primary market with your flagship English site, market research and understanding your users is essential for improving your global site’s conversion rates.
We were faced with such a challenge when one of our telecom client's Spanish-language site serving U.S. Hispanics fell short on expectations regarding engagement on a product selection page. Due to the site's unhelpful design, users struggled to find a smartphone they liked or could afford. The products were located randomly on the page, with no regard to features or price.
(The Spanish site inherited this peculiar UX flaw from the company's primary-market English site. As a general rule, MotionPoint translates the content of a client's "source language" site, but maintains its design and functionality.)
Our solution? We created a split test, targeting the top of the funnel, or decision-making process. When users entered the product selection phase, our CRO campaign provided shoppers with a selection of smartphones, arranged by price.
This seemingly-trivial tweak generated big results among Spanish-speaking Hispanics. Users who interacted with the campaign converted 65% better than users who didn't experience the campaign.
Our experience in localized CRO extends beyond product selection. We applied a campaign and A/B test to another client's checkout flow. We determined that slight variations in translation word choice generated an uptick in conversion rates. By craftily thinking like our client's customers, we were able to communicate more effectively with them during checkout and secure revenue growth.
We conducted a similar CRO initiative for another retail client, and generated an 11% increase in sales conversions. Our CRO efforts for another telecom client delivered an increase of 13% to visits to promoted site sections, and a 17% boost in conversions.
A willingness to understand the nuances of how a global market's consumers think, consume content and shop can lead to big gains for expanding companies. As your organization eyes new international markets-particularly for online engagement and e-commerce-we strongly suggest that it works closely with a website translation partner that's fluent in far more than languages.
Expertise in analytics, A/B testing and other metrics-driven aspects of website operation are crucial. But above all, a solid understanding of consumer thinking-informed by cultural fluency-makes all the difference.