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24Jan

Is it Time to Drop a Language or Justify with ROI?

In any given year, web and mobile sites add and drop language support in response to a wide variety of macro-economic and business factors. In a detailed analysis of 2,648 global brand websites, CSA Research found that 26% added one or more languages in 2017. However, not all enterprises increased multilingual support. In fact, one in 10 removed at least one language. About 1% removed more than 10 from their roster.
 
What steps should companies take when deciding whether to drop locale support or to continue to justify its existence? Here’s what our independent market research shows:

  1. Decode the executive directive to drop locale support. In some cases, you may have no choice. For example, an expansion strategy requires a shift in direction or your company is downsizing. On the other hand, the idea to decrease support may be management’s way of asking you to run ROI numbers or pushing for justification of how you’re spending your budget. Or they may only be suggesting that the company drop some aspect of support – for example, skipping a product revision or site update for a particular language or phasing out online sales in a specific currency.

  2. Capture appropriate data to match the metrics favored by your executives. Upper managers tend to review only data related to what has been spent on locale support versus the revenue generated over the past year or so and what is projected for the next 12 months. As you run ROI numbers, look past the symptoms. For example, unsatisfactory revenue levels may be caused in part by a lack of in-country staff. Or local customers still access your domestic site because you haven’t properly promoted the localized one. Even tracking web analytics data won’t uncover the fact that you can’t generate much revenue by selling backpacks to children who receive them for free in their country – as one very well-known retailer once tried to do. Once you point out these issues, management may decide to fix the root causes rather than defund localization. 

  3. Outline the implications of the decision to drop support. Demonstrate to executives how local, regional, and international competition will benefit. Assess possible brand damage in the target market. Then determine whether dropping support will have a ripple effect in any other markets, including your domestic one. Confirm if local regulatory bodies demand localized products or services. Calculate the overall strategic value of the market in question; for example, if you exit in the short term, can you count on returning? And, last but not least, show your executives machine-translated text from your web or mobile site to ensure that they’re comfortable with prospects and customers resorting to free translation services to interact with your company.

Cutting support for a locale is a big step for any organization. Avoid being branded as a company that can’t be trusted to remain committed to a local market. Make sure that executives apply the right metrics, backed up with appropriate data, before making their final decision to drop support for a language. Once all agree that it’s time for a locale to be decommissioned, control possible blowback. Gather input from internal and external audiences, develop a timeline for phasing out support, and communicate clearly with all interested parties.

About the Author

Rebecca Ray

Rebecca Ray

Director of Buyers Service

Focuses on global digital transformation, enterprise globalization, localization maturity, social media, global product development, crowdsourcing, transcreation, and internationalization

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