Common Sense Advisory’s study of multilingual websites finds shift to app-style customer experience
Manufactured products, from automobiles to textiles, rely on global markets to leverage the maximum return on investment in research, design, production, and branding. Companies add languages to capture the market share required to sustain innovation. But, how many languages (and which ones) should successful global brands speak in order to reach businesses and consumers in the most markets?
For the past nine years, independent market research firm Common Sense Advisory (CSA Research) has studied the world’s most prominent websites to identify the leaders of the global web. These business and consumer websites represent the biggest companies, most popular websites, and most valuable brands, based on the Forbes Global 2000 list, the Alexa Top 500 Global Websites, and the Interbrand 100 Best Brands.
Data collected by CSA Research finds a strong correlation between a brand’s financial strength and the number of languages it makes its website available in. The data, findings, and analysis are detailed in the firm’s report, “Global Website Assessment Index 2016.”
The Global Website Assessment Index 2016 documents languages and social network links on the world’s 2,657 most prominent websites. This year’s report assigns each web property to one of 38 industry sectors, using a proprietary classification keyed to subject matter expertise expected from the language industry. The report includes 38 infographics, showing the average number of languages and social links found in each industry, with bar charts showing the frequency and relative popularity of languages and social networks found on each sector’s most prominent websites.
Adds lead analyst on the report, Ben Sargent, “Relying on human researchers rather than bots and automated data collection, we looked for browse-level content in all languages in the global web presence, including subsidiaries where links provide a visual connection between brands for customers and prospects.”
The study found that the top three multilingual industries all involve product companies with significant R&D requirements. Automotive tops the list, averaging 14.6 languages per website.
Additional findings detailed in the research report include:
- Competing brands manage a dozen or more languages. It takes a minimum of 14 languages to reach 90% of the world’s online GDP (see the firm’s report “Digital Opportunity: Top 100 Online Languages for 2016”). Of the 2,657 prominent websites CSA Research analysts visited in 2016, a vanguard of 336 organizations already manage their web presence in 14 or more languages.
- The cost of innovation drives globalization.Industries deploying the most languages include Automotive, Medical Devices, Software Products, and Pharmaceuticals.
- Websites designed as software applications support the most languages.Eleven of the 12 websites found with 45 or more languages adopted a design with a graphical user interface that mimics what users see everyday in their browsers and productivity apps. This GUI-like design indicates a clear path for other brands struggling with the cost and production headaches of adding languages using old-school web design principles based on documents.
- Using the success correlations. From making the business case for language investment to gathering data to compare and benchmark competitors, the report provides four ways organizations can use the success correlations detailed in this report for planning and deployment.
The research firm also found that multilingual websites, especially in the software, social networking, and online services, are shifting to an app-style customer experience, including the separation of country and language settings.
Adds Sargent, “People travel, study, work, and live abroad. When brands limit information relevant to a specific country to a single language, customers or prospects get left out of the conversation. Traditional corporate information sites struggle to separate country from language, while GUI-style web applications easily sort them out. We predict more users will expect a multilingual CX with advanced features, such as filtering options for mixed language feeds. These features are found in app-style sites, not sites that manage web pages as discrete files on a server.”
Global Website Assessment Index 2016 is available as a part of CSA Research membership. Visit www.commonsenseadvisory.com for more information.
About Common Sense Advisory
Common Sense Advisory is an independent market research company helping companies profitably grow their international businesses and gain access to new markets. It specializes in best practices for translation, localization, interpreting, globalization, and internationalization. www.commonsenseadvisory.com
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Media Contact: Melissa C. Gillespie, 760-522-4362, Melissa@commonsenseadvisory.com