Why European startups should go multilingual as soon as possible (Sponsored)

Whilst the last year and a half has undoubtedly put a strain on business development within Europe (much like the rest of the world), the EU is expected to recover to its pre-pandemic level in 2022, with a better growth projection than the US. 

The diverse region of Europe offers a melting pot of cultures and languages, and the opportunities are rife for startups looking to do business in such a vast untapped market.

Why? Because European startups have the unique opportunity of having access to a single market without any restrictions on import/export, a solid infrastructure, and access to skilled workforces, all whilst operating in a single currency. 

It makes fast growth a real opportunity for startups. But, doing business within a region where there are 24 official languages means speaking directly to your customers in their language is a must. If you’re going to see any return on investment and reach the much sought-after unicorn status. 

Go multilingual early 

When launching a business it’s easy to see why sticking to a one-country approach at first is a good way to validate whether there’s a demand for your product or service. And that still rings true. However, when it comes to doing business within Europe, the reward outweighs the risk.  

This can be seen in action at Weglot, where startups looking to profit from trending consumer behaviour have decided to take a multiple-market approach within Europe, right from the start. 

Scandinavian brand Volant, founded in May 2020 did just that. Seeing the demand increase for ‘making a house a home’ in 2020 they decided to add 9 languages to their e-commerce store to target a large part of Europe. They launched in 11 markets within a matter of weeks, gaining ​​a 39% increase in cross-border revenue in the first month alone. 

The opportunity to reach more customers rises with each additional language, as do the benefits to the brand. And when it comes to seeing this in terms of real ROI, every €1 spent on localization yields €25 in return

These numbers are hard to ignore for ambitious European startups, encouraging going multilingual from the get-go. 

Going multilingual has never been easier to do 

Startups no longer need to rely on translation agencies and internal developer teams to implement a multilingual website. Nowadays brands can rely on website translation software such as Weglot, which allows companies to launch websites in multiple languages quickly, effortlessly, and within budget. 

Naturally, we’re not suggesting you take a stab in the dark and launch across all European countries at once; there will always be some careful planning needed from the off. So here are the main points to consider when thinking about going multilingual and cross-border.

Research the market 

Differences can come down to culture, take Scotland for example, the only country in the world where Coca-Cola isn’t the leading fizzy drink Irn Bru leads the way there, but other differences that can impact your sales funnel are also widespread. 

One such example is transactional payment methods. Whilst the euro is the collective currency, preferred payment methods can differ throughout the region. Not using iDeal on your website? Then you’ll likely deter Dutch customers. Then there’s the German market where digital wallets are favoured. 

These details make a big difference to how your brand will be received. And, when it comes to understanding what markets to enter first, Google Analytics (or whichever web analytics service you’re using) can play a role here. Understanding what countries are already visiting your site can help you determine which countries to enter first. Or, if you’re an e-commerce store, identifying which countries you’re seeing sales from can also be key. 

Understand the language and culture

Language is an important barrier that many startups seem to forget, or simply think everyone understands English fluently. 

Whilst English is the most spoken language within the EU (how that will change since Brexit remains to be seen), according to a B2C survey conducted by CSA Research, 65% of those surveyed prefer to read content in their own language, even if it’s poor quality. 

Localizing your website content and marketing approach for individual countries will allow you to adapt your product or service to meet the needs of new markets, even though they may only be neighbours. Done correctly, the ability to not just translate words but personalize and localize them to cater to specific geographies will help create a brand that is customer-centric, trusting, and worth paying money for.

How to overcome language barriers

We touched on it earlier, but there’s nothing to fear anymore when it comes to adding multiple language options to your website, and on top of that there are many other European solutions that can scale with you to help deliver personalized experiences for your new markets. 

Weglot allows you to say goodbye to multiple websites for different markets. You can be forgiven for thinking the only way to go multilingual is to duplicate your website and translate it manually. 

Sure, that’s one way, but website translation software, Weglot, allows you to sidestep that tedious method and have a multilingual website up and running instantly. This no-code website translation method handles the content detection and translation and then displays the content under language-specific subdirectories/ subdomains (e.g. mysite.com/fr/ or fr.mysite.com for example). 

The translations are managed outside of your CMS and in your own dedicated Weglot Dashboard where you can handle each language pair and decide whether to keep the machine translation given by Weglot, add your own translation team, or order translators within the interface. You set the translation quality you want for your brand. 

Plus, every time you add content to your website, you don’t need to worry about making the same content changes to your language versions, Weglot automatically translates these edits or new content and makes them live on your site. This can be a real-life saver for e-commerce stores in particular. 

However, it’s not just translating the words on your website that will help with your ROI, multilingual SEO also makes up a large part of how you’ll grow your organic traffic. That’s why Weglot doesn’t just focus solely on translation, but automatically adds key multilingual features that ensure your brand gets ranked by search engines in all your new translated languages. 

To find out more about Weglot, visit their website, and enter new markets in weeks not months.