Ever wondered what makes global brands successful?
Well, it's actually many factors, but to name just a few, let's go for authenticity, consistency and professionalism. These are "those things" that sometimes induce nightmares to marketers, but make people willing to convert into (loyal) customers. On the other hand, business is primarily about making money, and the success is related also to the general economy. It is only logical that brands need to make compromises to find a balance between what's desired and what's feasible. But do they?
First impression REALLY matters
The outcome of your compromises can have serious negative impact on your brand's perception, although meant to do no harm (or even worse, to do good). Mainly if venturing into unknown waters – e.g. when expanding the brand to new international markets, the "let's save $500 now in order to miss $50.000 in the future" approach can make you fail in the moment of truth – the first impression towards local customers. To prevent this, you need to invest in proper localization of your content. Not just your packaging, guidelines or manuals, but also your website. It's the multi-channel approach in communication and localization that makes you authentic and consistent and what makes the difference in seizing or losing the market. This surely would be common knowledge to most everyone.
So why are there still so many businesses out there, who think they will impress and win local customers with machine-translated websites?
Google doesn't like machine translation
Ironic as it may sound at first, the very company that powers the largest machine translation platform in the world fights against auto-generated content including machine translated websites. After all, with browsers having built-in features for automatic machine translation, it goes against logic to pretend that you care about local clientele and went the extra mile with "real translation" of your website, while you merely clicked a button.
When Google algorithms can see through it, so can your potential human customers. And while search engines may forgive you your SEO sins within several months, your disappointed customers won't forget the negative first impression. After all, why should they, if they already give their money to your competitor who seized the chance and fluently speaks their language...
Indeed, the Internet is a tough jungle, where seconds matter. The free machine translation tools that allow you to translate the content in one click (seemingly saving time and money), take their real price in the very first seconds of interaction with potential customers. Professional localization really matters and it's much less of an expense than trying to repair a destroyed brand image and to reengage lost, potential customers.
Don't let that one click destroy your brand perception in international markets. It's just not worth it.