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Strategies to Supercharge Your Japanese Website Conversions

Published on: June 19, 2024

Strategies to Supercharge Your Japanese Website Conversions

Venturing into Japan’s digital market is not for the faint-hearted. 

Japan isn’t just another tick on the list of Asian markets. It’s a whole different beast with its own quirks and peculiarities. Try plonking a strategy that worked wonders in, say, China, and you’ll soon find it’s about as useful as a chocolate teapot in a heatwave.

This guide will provide you with actionable insights and specific tweaks that will optimise your website for better engagement and conversions with Japanese customers. By making these adjustments, you’ll not only bridge those cultural gaps but also give your brand a nice boost in visibility and appeal in one of the most lucrative markets out there.

Ready to make your mark in Japan?

Elevate Your Customer Service Game

While you might get away with a cookie-cutter approach to customer service in other parts of the globe, Japan presents a unique challenge. Expectations here are sky-high, and many global brands find themselves falling short in the eyes of Japanese consumers.

Decoding the Challenge: In Japan, stellar customer service isn’t just a nice-to-have — it’s a non-negotiable. The phrase “the customer is god” is not just lip service but a philosophy that permeates every level of service. This mindset extends to the digital realm, setting a sky-high bar for any international brand looking to make a mark online.

The Solution: To do more than just stay afloat in Japan’s exacting market, global brands need to overhaul their online engagement strategies.

Here’s how:

1. Beef Up with FAQs

Start by turbocharging your website with a comprehensive FAQ section. In Japan, where every inch of the customer journey is examined under a microscope, quick access to info is pure gold. Look at Uniqlo’s Japanese site — its FAQ section spans 9 categories with over 150 questions, a masterclass in accessibility and thoroughness.

Strategies to Supercharge Your Japanese Website Conversions - Uniqlo JP FAQ
Uniqlo's Japanese FAQ page features 9 categories, covering over 150 questions.

2. Layer on the Info

Minimalist web designs might be all the rage globally, but to a Japanese audience, they can seem as welcoming as a brick wall.

Instead, pack your site with rich, detailed content that marries text with visuals. Your goal? Make your website an information-packed hub, preempting and addressing customer questions before they’re even asked.

3. Show, Don’t Just Tell

Japanese consumers love seeing products in action. Images that showcase your products in real-life scenarios resonate deeply, offering a comprehensive visual understanding that reassures them before they click ‘buy.’

4. Roll Out the Red Carpet

A robust “Contact Us” page with a dedicated Japanese support line isn’t a luxury — it’s a necessity. This isn’t just about providing customer service support. It’s about showing you’re serious about the Japanese market and committed to offering the personalised service they expect.

Cultivate Credibility

Now, let’s talk trust. How do you establish trust and legitimacy in a land where consumers are inherently sceptical?

Decoding the Challenge: Often, the issue lies in how your website comes across to Japanese consumers. If it’s missing key elements, it might as well have a flashing sign saying, “Don’t trust us!” That’s a surefire way to kill your brand’s appeal.

The Solution: To ramp up your website’s credibility in Japan, you need a ‘Company Profile (会社概要)’ page that’s detailed to the nines.

This isn’t your run-of-the-mill ‘About Us’ page — it’s the deluxe version. You want to spill the beans on your company’s history, leadership, workforce, and physical location.

1. Detail-Rich Company Profile

Lay it all out there: year of establishment, founder’s name, contact details, office location, employee count, and capital amount. While this level of transparency might seem over the top elsewhere, in Japan, it’s a baseline expectation. Japanese consumers want to see the bones of your business — they’re examining your legitimacy with a magnifying glass. 

These details are not just informational but are critical in building a persona that Japanese consumers feel they can trust.

Optimising Japanese Website for Better Conversion - Calbee Company profile
A typical ‘Company Profile (会社概要)’ page

2. A CEO’s Personal Touch

Roll out a heartfelt message from your CEO.

This isn’t the time for corporate jargon or self-congratulatory drivel. Think of it as a warm handshake — reflect on societal issues or current events that matter to your audience. This personal connection fosters trust and shows that your company has a heart and a head in the right place.

Nintendo's "Message from the President" page

3. Showcase Testimonials

Flash those endorsements!

Integrate testimonials, especially from well-known personalities or respected names within Japan. It’s not just about boasting — it’s about showing that credible figures back your brand’s quality and reliability.

This can significantly elevate your standing, making you look like a bona fide contender rather than just another hopeful entrant.

Embrace Sidebar Navigation

Here’s a head-scratcher: how do you design a website that feels like home to Japanese users when your international brand has a different playbook?

Decoding the Challenge: The key to creating a user-friendly website for a Japanese audience often hinges on adopting a layout and navigation system that aligns with local usability standards.

The Solution: Embrace the sidebar navigation.

Unlike the Western preference for horizontal navigation bars at the top of the webpage, Japanese users often find vertical sidebars on the left more natural and user-friendly. This isn’t a quirky preference — it’s rooted in the traditional Japanese reading flow, which goes vertically.

Even though newer Japanese websites aimed at the younger crowd are flirting with Western-style horizontal navigation, the big hitters targeting a broader audience, like Rakuten, still swear by their trusty vertical sidebar. They know their audience, and they stick with what works.

Rakuten, Japan's largest e-commerce platform, uses left sidebar for navigation.

Remember, your goal should be to create a website environment that feels familiar and inviting to Japanese users. 

This isn’t just about looking good — it’s about making users feel at ease, encouraging them to poke around more, and ultimately, converting them into customers.

Localise to Convert

When global brands try to crack the Japanese market, they often fumble with the tricky tightrope walk between translation and true localisation. 

Decoding the Challenge: Simply translating your content isn’t going to cut it. It’s like trying to fit a square peg into a round hole. You miss the nuances, and the cultural subtleties, and end up with something that feels awkward, or worse, completely foreign to your audience.

Take Tylenol’s first attempt at wooing Japan, for example. They stuck with their classic red packaging, blissfully unaware that blue is the go-to colour for pain relief in Japan. They translated the text but missed the cultural memo.

The result?

A disconnect that left Japanese consumers scratching their heads.

The Solution: Effective localisation is about more than just avoiding blunders — it’s about forging connections. This means diving deep into Japan’s unique market preferences and consumer behaviours, especially in web design and content presentation. Japanese websites often resemble a well-stocked library, packed with information, reflecting the local penchant for detailed data before making a purchase.

How to Design for Maximum Engagement in Japan’s E-Commerce - GNC Rakuten
The GNC storefront on Rakuten Japan is information-dense and visually busy.

To truly click with Japanese consumers, your website needs to do more than just speak their language. It needs to mirror their visual and informational tastes. Think rich, detailed content that preempts every possible question a customer might have, all presented in a way that feels culturally spot-on.

Your Trusted Website Optimisation Partner in the Japanese Market

Think of your website as the front door to your brand in Japan. If it’s not inviting and easy to find, you might as well be invisible.

Optimising your website for the Japanese market doesn’t have to be a Herculean task. By identifying and overcoming common hurdles, Western brands can forge stronger connections with Japanese consumers, boost those all-important conversion rates, and build lasting relationships.

At WPIC, we don’t just talk the talk. We walk you through every step of the journey to succeed in Japan and across the APAC region with our tailored full-service digital marketing solutions.

So why not contact us today? Let’s chat about your project and explore how we can help you nail your business goals.

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