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Don’t speak my language? I won’t buy your financial services


Financial services are the products that consumers are least likely to buy if the website is not in their native language

Travelling is one of my passions. I have travelled extensively, alone, with friends, with groups of people. I have visited many places in Italy, in Europe, and “exotic” countries, from India to Vietnam, from Syria to South Africa. I like to meet people with different cultures and try to understand their language.

Anyway, from my own experience, when people – like my travel companions – have to buy something or choose what they are going to eat at the restaurant, they would rather read the product labels or the menu in their own language (and possibly see a picture!). The same goes when you buy a travel package on the web. It is a matter of trust.

A recent report “Can’t Read, Won’t Buy: 2014” by the independent market research firm Common Sense Advisory (with more than 3,000 global consumers in 10 non-English speaking countries) confirmed my perception.

75% of consumers prefer to buy products in their native languages. The survey highlights that more than half of respondents shop on-line only from websites that show information in the consumer’s native language.

Native-language content is particularly important in some industries. Consumers are least likely to buy automotive and financial services products, if they are not in their native language.

Almost 60% of global consumers said that getting information in their own language was more important than price when making a purchase decision. For 85.3% of the respondents, having pre-purchase information in their own language was a critical factor in buying insurance and other financial services. At the same time, just 45.8% said that language was important when buying clothes on the web. Common Sense Advisory concluded that “The more valuable an item, the more likely it is that someone will want to read about the product and buy it in their own language.”

Translation and localisation are therefore necessary to access foreign markets and increase global sales. Even though many people surfing the web feel comfortable using English, 55% of respondents, including English speakers, reported buying only at websites where information is in their language.

Translation is costly and may be a complex task. However, if companies do not provide professional translation of their products and services, potential customers may turn to online translation engines, with dubious brand-damaging results.

Companies need a translation strategy within their marketing plan. They need to think global right from the start. If a marketing campaign associates images and video with text, text must be plain and simple, with few metaphors and low cultural connotation. Otherwise, it will be difficult or impossible to translate and integrate text with images.

Using the language of your potential clients in your Website – and marketing materials in general – will increase their trust, giving a competitive advantage, and it will be useful also for Google ranking and keyword search.

However, only copywriters and translators native in the target language are able to transcreate, to reproduce an idea in their own language, because they think in the language of their audience.

Speak your client’s language, if you want to sell your product or service effectively. Financial services, in particular.


Click here to read this post in Italian.