International companies are finally recognizing website localization for what it is: a powerful tool for reaching untapped foreign markets. According to research from the Globalization and Localization Association, corporate demand for localization services have increased steadily in the past 12 months, and this trend is expected to continue in 2013.
No marketing professional questions the importance of website localization anymore. The challenge is selling it to your boss. Executives and shareholders want to see the hard numbers — proof that localization will create new revenue streams for the company.
Demonstrating website localization ROI has never been an easy task. For lack of concrete data, marketing and localization managers are often forced to improvise — selling the concept in vague terms. It’s a commonly held belief that the benefits of website localization cannot be accurately measured.
As a matter of fact, they can. We developed a simple, step-by-step method for calculating ROI on website localization. All you need is some basic math and a few pieces of analytics data.
You’ll need access to your Google Analytics or whichever tool your company uses to track website visitors. Talk to your webmaster if you don’t have this data on hand.
Profiling Your Visitors
Figure out how many people visit your website in an average month. Be sure to discount internal traffic from your own company, especially if your website is accessed frequently by staff or contractors.
Now divide this monthly traffic figure between visitors who use your source language (i.e. English) and visitors who use your target language. There are two ways to determine which language your visitors are using. You can simply draw an assumption based on their geographic location, or you can look at their browser language settings. We discuss both approaches in detail in the white paper, Global Web Sites for New Markets – Estimating ROI from Website Localization.
Finding Conversion Values
A conversion is typically making a sale or acquiring a new client. Find an average conversion value: how much revenue does a sale generate, or what is a new client worth over a certain period of time?
Figure out how many conversions come from source language visitors and how many come from target language visitors, then calculate your conversion rate as a percentage. If 250 target language visitors deliver 25 conversions per month, your target language conversion rate is 10 percent.
Next, estimate how much your target language traffic will increase after localization. This forecast can be difficult, as your traffic levels will depend on how well you promote and optimize your site for local search. Traffic estimations are covered in more detail in the white paper.
Finally, multiply your current conversion rate in the target language by your anticipated post-localization traffic levels. Take that projected revenue and deduct the cost of localization: not just the one-off project, but also ongoing costs like hiring local staff, running PPC and SEO campaigns and future translations when the site is updated.
You now have a clear idea of your ROI. Go back to your boss with some simple, persuasive numbers that demonstrate the true value of website localization.