Not Just Sauerkraut – You’re Speaking my Language?

In my first post, German Language Software, I talked about the German market a bit. Here are a few more quick thoughts if you want to be successful in the German Language market.

I want to emphasize I am not a German market expert (correct me in the comments, please), but as you can read in the above post, we managed to multiply the German share of our sales ten times, from 2% to 20%! Something we do must be good 😉 Yes, this is the percentage of sales, not the number of sales (which obviously increased as well).

What we did

I will just post all things we did. I leave it up to you to decide what is important or not. My personal feeling is that all is important, miss one and it won’t work…

  1. German translation of the software
  2. German translation of the website
  3. German support, email, forum etcetera
  4. Make it easy to buy for German customers

German translation of the software

Please also see my first post, German Language Software. I am very much surprised about the German market, I expected tech tools in English-Language-only would be no problem at all.

Sure, if you are writing games or any other non-business software, it is super-duper-important to have localized versions of your software. To my surprise, it seems German customers really want to have German software, also for tech-tools (business).

German translation of the website

I don’t think I need to explain much here? When people search on Google in their own language (German), they won’t find your English website.

Remember to use proper html tags to convince google it is a German webpage:

<html lang="de" xml:lang="de" xmlns="http://www.w3.org/1999/xhtml">
and
<meta http-equiv="Content-Language" content="de" />

German Language Support

Everybody likes being helped in their own language. These days it is even more important: Germans from former eastern Germany (DDR) didn’t even learn English in school!

Remember to address German customers as Sie and not Du. Both mean “You”, but Du is only used between close friends and children. If you hire someone from Germany to do your support, this won’t be an issue – He will know.

Easy to Buy

Did you know German companies do not normally have credit-cards? The normal way to buy is by bank transfer. Our German translator noted that one of the first things he does when he searches for software is to see if he is able to buy without credit-card.

If he can’t buy by bank transfer, he needs to use his personal credit-card and try to get his money back from his company. Much easier to look at the next Google search result for a software company that understands the needs of German customers.

Read All “You’re Speaking My Language” posts

5 Comments

  1. Interesting results,

    Smart to use language tags for your website so crawlers can index your site according to a preferred language. It holds true that only America and the United Kingdom are big users of credit cards, most other places in the western world debit-cards are often used.

    A good example of lowering the hesitation of purchasing products online is through methods such as iDeal (in the Netherlands) and in this case bank-transfers (Germany). If you really found this such a great succes i highly recommend translating your software to French. As they are also have problems with language barriers.

  2. About the language tags, it is not only for search engines (but that is important, no doubt).

    Another important issue is to tell the web-browser how it should interpret “strange characters”, everything other than a-z.

    When you correctly encode characters (use &uuml; for ü), it is not a big issue, but most people (including me) are too lazy to always do that. When you tell the web-browser all text is German, it knows how to interpret these characters.

  3. Hi Harm,

    I can verify that. Sisulizer is available in French and that really helps on the French market. Gert should do the same with his tools next 🙂

    The smaller countries in Europe are not as sensible. They are used to the situation that there is not a localized version of a software. Perhaps it is related to the dubbing on TV. In Germany and France movies are nearly always dubbed while e.g. in Finland this is true mostly only for movies made for children. If you travel Benelux and Nordic Countries it seems that more often people can communicate with you in English while in Germany and France you better bring some basic language skills in the native’s languages.

    Markus

  4. > recommend translating your software to French

    Yes, I agree. But if you read this and my previous posts, you will understand I need a local partner for that. Only translating the software and website leaves a big gaping hole in the service we offer to our clients: local language support.

    When we offer French software and website, French and Canadian people will expect to be helped in French. So far we couldn’t convince any French customer of ours to help us with this.

  5. A small update….

    All this triggered me again to ask a new French customer if he may be interested to translate/support our software. It looks like he is (we’re still talking details).

    I hope I can post a “Not Just baguette” message here next year 😉

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