Translated user reviews are a gold mine for ecommerce

Amazing conversion rates. Better customer engagement. Better retention and loyalty. For all of the traditional marketing and advertising your team does, user-generated content like reviews and comments is doing a lot of heavy lifting for you (or can, if you let it). For online shoppers, reading reviews is an important step in the purchase process—trusted 12 times more than company-created information, an astonishing 85% of those in their 30s or younger and 70% over 50 say that user-generated content influences what they buy (Bazaarvoice).

When translating, however, this user-generated content tends to come last in the queue, if at all. Ecommerce companies in particular have a massive amount of content to translate, and product descriptions are at the top of the list. In reality, translating the entire bundle—page text, product listing and user review—dramatically enhances the overall customer experience over translating any one bit alone.

What is user-generated content?

User-generated content takes many forms. Here, we’re defining it as anything created about or in direct reference to a brand or company that comes from outside users or customers. User-generated content can be positive or negative and spans a variety of media. A few popular categories include:

  • User reviews, which can be found in numerous places around the web. This includes review websites like Yelp, reviews on product listings themselves and recommendations distributed around the web, especially through social media channels. Users increasingly view user reviews (as opposed to those made by professionals, critics, etc.) as more authentic and trustworthy, leading them more often to purchase.
  • Comments, forums, social pages, all places where users can interact directly with company content, on company-owned URLs or company-moderated pages on Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.
  • Fan/brand art (videos, illustrations, etc.) Some everyday brands, like Starbucks and Coca-Cola, inspire their own user-generated art. This content is often repurposed (or solicited) for powerful content marketing and used to inspire new products or features. It can also take on a life of its own.

In contrast to brands, users create content because they want to, not because they need to. Users who share reviews, for example, often occupy the extremes of the spectrum—the happiest and most dissatisfied customers. You know your product in and out, but even you can’t anticipate all of the problems that your product or service will solve, what the unintended benefits may be and how it’ll fit into users’ lives. Luckily for you, customers can.

Why translate user-generated content?

User-generated content of all types can have a positive effect on customer-company relationships and sales. The easiest and most versatile kind of user-generated content is the user review, which is often plain text, with minimal setup costs and a natural home on localized versions of your website or marketing materials.

The benefits of translating user content are similar to those of standard source language variants:

  • It converts really well. Almost impossibly well, as you’ve seen above. With user-generated content, the more customers leave feedback, the better—increasing the number of product reviews from 1 to 15 in certain consumer categories boosts orders by over 50%. More reviews and higher average ratings spell high conversion to purchase rates.
  • It makes for great marketing. In-country marketing can be a significant expense. While we encourage you to create targeted campaigns for the markets you’re selling in, we also think that leveraging the existing content you have is an inexpensive, effective way to get your message out to users around the world. Your company will never be able to create a budget for the sheer volume of anecdotal information about your products as your customers, and this content helps boost your site’s findability. You can also let user reviews, comments and posts serve as a form of basic customer research, off of which you can build more sophisticated campaigns and better targeting by interest, behavior, demographic and more.

Things to consider when translating your user content include:

  • Cost. Some companies use machine translation, others human translation—agency translation for this kind of dynamic content is too slow and costly for most. Machine translation can’t interpret slang, cultural references and spelling and grammar errors like human translators can.
  • Language pairs. How will you launch? How much user-generated content will you translate? On which products? Which pairs will you need, and which are highest priority? Integrate dynamic content translation into your broader localization strategy, or create a new plan for just translating user-generated content. Start small and round out your lower-priority languages after hitting top pairs.
  • Authenticity. Use a well-respected service with a dedication to quality in order to accurately translate what your users are saying. Low quality is a liability. You’ll need to either choose a service that translates content at the right quality or do internal content checks and QA.
  • Time to launch, time to maintain. The only trouble with user-generated content is that in the time it takes you to translate a user review, more are written. Unlike static content like website strings or email, speed is of utmost importance here. Users also want the freshest information when looking to buy, so even weeks might be too long to wait to translate when you’re in the maintenance phase. Use the right technology and right workflows to stay agile. Luckily, you’ll see results just as quickly—just a month after launch, conversion rates increase by 14% on average.

With many ecommerce platforms, product rating capabilities are passive and integrated, and you may or may not be paying close attention to how reviews in your primary language are impacting traffic, SEO, conversions, brand loyalty and everything in between. (If you’re not, then start!) Even if your platform doesn’t have built-in support to translate user reviews for your localized sites, plugins and integrations that can are abundant.

Ready to leap into translating user-generated content? Because word counts are so low, there’s little risk in doing a trial, even if for an experiment to see the impact translated content may have for a single page or set of products.

Learn more about how you can use Gengo for ecommerce.

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Sarah Siwak

The author

Sarah Siwak

Sarah manages content production for Gengo's marketing team. A native Detroiter and fluent trilingual, she's passionate about finding creative ways to communicate ideas across different media and languages. She spends her free time exploring digital worlds and whipping up late-night omelettes.

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