Is your Web site only in English? If it is, you could be missing out on a huge market, because around two-thirds of Web users don't have English as their mother tongue.
Communicate with hundreds of millions of consumers around the world
For many businesses - right from the smallest upwards - much of the world is a huge untouched market. How huge? Consider that there are more than 200 million Web users who speak French, Italian, German or Spanish.
If you're a UK-based business, many of those potential customers - individuals or businesses - are governed by the same European Community regulations and, if you need to deliver a product, increasingly unified international postage costs, and vastly simplified customs regulations make it easy to do business with them.
Even if you're selling from outside the EC, a translated Web site gives you access to one of the world's richest markets for both business and consumer goods and services. And, of course, a Spanish version of your site targets US Hispanics and much of South America.
But the EC is just one possibility. Looking to the Far East, Japanese and Chinese Web users account for yet another 200 million people, or more, all potential customers for your goods and services. Which markets could use your products or services?
Around the world, content is king
While photographs and design can carry some meaning, the words on your Web site are what really sell. They're the most powerful weapons in your online marketing campaign. So you need to be sure of having translated content that is at least equal in quality to your English site. You'll need professional translation services from an agency that's capable of working with your kind of content.
Professional translation services are within your budget
The good news is that it probably costs less than you think to use high quality translation services. Many leading translation services are leveraging the benefits of Web and other technologies to reduce overheads and reduce the time take to produce highly readable and effective translations, so they're affordable for even the smallest businesses.
So how do you start? I'd recommend you select one market, and test the water. Get some advice from business groups or government about the rules and regulations you'll face, then find a translation agency with experience with your kind of business.
Look at their Web site and examples of their work. Is their level of English good? Then find a friend or a contact on the Internet whose first language is the one you're interested in. If they're happy with the standard of the translations, you're ready to go. Select the agency with the highest standards, because their words will be the public's window in on your company in your new market.
Christian Arno is Director of Lingo24 (http://www.lingo24.com ) specialists in translation between English, European, and Asian languages.