English has long been the lingua franca of the web. Due to the web environment development and spreading worldwide, providing English-only content to communicate with many Internet users has long been sufficient. Nonetheless, the online community is changing and becoming more and more diverse, imposing requirements on global businesses. This blog post dives into the online language world and shows why English-only content just won’t cut it anymore.
It’s tempting to follow an English-only strategy nowadays
The vast majority of content published on the Internet is still written in English. Roughly 56% of Internet content is English. Currently, most Internet users are native English speakers, as the following figure indicates.
Moreover, English is by far the world’s most commonly studied language and claims the top rank followed by French and Chinese in the study conducted by the University of Düsseldorf.
Why English-only won’t make it in the Future
These stats might be tempting to think that English-only content is enough in today’s world. However, the online community is becoming increasingly diverse, and users demand information in their native language to purchase from a website or webshop.
Based on the latest statistics, the number of users targeted on native-language content is rising. For example, 40% of consumers will never buy something on the resource without their native language, and 65% prefer the native language even if it is not perfectly translated.
We see such numbers as a result of the following:
- The high density of competitors. Even if you have a great product or service, there is a high chance that native competitors exist in the region you targeted. The users there already can use the well-known language, and they will not choose you.
- Some industries, like banking, e-commerce, etc., have a specific vocabulary and require sensitive data. Without a deep understanding of English, the users from this region will not be able to read the critical information. As a result, trustworthiness will be at the bottom.
- Big cultural differences. When talking about localization from English, we are meant not only the text translation but its adaptation. The significant issue for businesses will be ignoring the mentality and values of each region.
English is by far not the most common native language
While English is the most commonly used language on the Internet, it is just ranked third among the most popular languages by native speakers. Regarding native speakers, Mandarin Chinese is the most spoken language worldwide, with almost 1 billion natives. Spanish, with roughly 405 million speakers, and English, with around 360 million native speakers, follow.
While companies are likely to think that most of the world’s population speaks English as a second language or at least understands English content, statistics show a difference. As the following graphic shows, less than 50% of the population in most countries speak English.
Language studies other than English are on the rise
Languages that are other than English gain more attention in academic study programs. Between 1990 and 2013, the number of U.S. colleges that teach Chinese increased by 110%. Nowadays, other languages are more and more accessible. Statistics show that speaking a foreign language fluently boosts a career. A study shows that Americans with good German language skills can earn up to $ 128,000 more throughout their business careers. Other language skills like French and Spanish are rewarded in business life too. Bilingual or multilingual employees are more interesting for the companies and can expect 10–15 percent to wages.
Customers demand translated content
We are already talked about some figures above. Let us add some information to approve that localization from English is an important part of your business growth. Offering translated content in a user’s native language is a significant element for building trust on the Internet. A survey conducted by Common Sense Advisory, the most popular researchers in the translation industry,
- 60% of online shoppers rarely purchase from English-only websites or webshops,
- 55% of the survey’s participants stated that they preferably shop when content is in their mother tongue,
- 53% argue that it’s more convenient if a website or web shop is translated into their native language, and
- 74% of online shoppers are more likely to buy a second time if a website or online shop is translated into their native language.
Mobile devices increase diversity within the Internet population
While translation into 25 languages was required in 2015 to reach 90% of the Internet population, Common Sense Advisory states that 48 languages will be required by 2020 to reach the same proportion of online users.
Mobile Internet access led to a rise in the number of Internet users and higher diversity. According to Seedstars, Latin America is now ranked third in mobile penetrations. Following Eastern and Central Europe (154% mobile penetration) and Western Europe (129%), Latin America claims the third rank with 104% mobile penetration.
The same trend is apparent in Asian statistics — the Chinese primarily access the Internet from mobile devices. More than 87% of all Chinese Internet users browse the mobile internet. They are also likely to purchase using mobile devices. Nearly 50% of all retail e-commerce sales in China are attributed to m-commerce.
Wrapping it up
Today’s customers and users demand more than English-only content. The online language world evolves and imposes requirements on global businesses. Be sure to be among those using the advantages of translated content, and start your free Lingohub trial today!