As an exporter, why invest in language skills?

As an exporter, why invest in language skills?

In a nutshell, because they win business!

For UK businesses looking to maximise and expand their overseas/export activities, the potential benefits are endless; greater productivity, a broader client base and healthier financial performance, to name but a few.

Without language skills, companies will struggle to communicate in and do deals with their target markets.

The facts speak for themselves; 94% of the world’s population does not speak English as their first language.

There’s real evidence that speaking to customers in their own language reaps rewards: Customers who buy online will pay more for a product if they can buy it in their own language Web users are four times more likely to purchase from a website that communicates in their language Website visitors stay for twice as long if a website is in their own language As you can see, investing in a translated and localised website is one way to boost sales when entering a new international market, though according to a 2012 report, in order to reach 80% of the global online audience a website must be translated into a minimum of 12 languages.

There’s a fair amount of work to do to build up your company’s language capability to reach a world-wide audience, but this blog will get you started on the right track to export success!


Getting started

Plan language investment from the get-go! We’re not expecting you to enrol on a beginner’s language course right this second, but to get you started,  a great first step is drawing up a languages plan for your company to address the need to communicate with overseas customers.

Establish which markets to target and what languages are required. Having decided to grow your business through overseas trade, it’s important to clearly identify which markets you’ll be targeting and how these will be prioritised. Make sure to research the native language of each country – some may have more than one official language.

Consider how you’ll target each market. What are the key steps and channels you’ll be using to communicate with potential customers overseas? What are the actions associated with this?

Find out which foreign languages are spoken by your team. Complete an audit to discover which language skills are available amongst your staff. Staff members with even modest language skills could facilitate initial contact with a new market.

Research Government support. Subsidies to support export activity, including language training, are available to exporters at all stages of activity as part of a variety of schemes run by Department for International Trade. Get in touch with your local DIT Team for more information.

Address your translation requirements. A first word of advice; resist the temptation to do it yourself or to use in-house staff that may have knowledge of the language but are not professional translators.

Setting up a foreign language landing page or micro site. Research shows that businesses are up to four times more likely to buy from you if they can access your website in their own language. Based on the performance of the micro site, you’ll be able to make an informed decision about whether to translate your complete website into the language of your target market.

Make the most of booming global internet trends. There are 2.1 billion internet users worldwide and tens of millions of businesses online – now is not the time to ignore the importance of languages on the internet! Online shopping has become commonplace all over the world and e-retail sales are expected to grow rapidly in Southern European markets by 2016; 12% per year in Germany, 19% in Spain and 18% in Italy.

Choose a translation company. There are a number of options open to you to ensure that you select the best company. Firstly, ask someone you trust to recommend a company they have worked with, or about whom they have heard good reports. You could ask the ATC, the Association of Translation Companies, to provide you with a list of registered companies in the UK. Language bodies such as CILT, The National Centre for Languages, also provide information on sourcing providers.


Need further help?

If you’d like to discuss your translation or language requirements with a member of our team please contact us today to book a free, one-hour review.

This will give you the chance to talk through your export plans in more detail and identify where the use of languages can improve your sales performance overseas.

The session should also highlight some simple steps to get you started, so you can quickly see the benefits of investing in your company’s language capability.


30 years of translation experience

Comtec is one of the UK’s leading suppliers of language services to business. Our services cover technical, medical, financial and legal translation, marketing and website localisation, eLearning localisation, interpreting, multilingual desktop publishing and software localisation. With over 30 years’ experience handling projects in multiple languages and formats, we understand the demands of international business and ensure the right message is delivered every time.


Sophie Howe, Director is available on +44 (0) 1926 335681 or

Pin It on Pinterest