Top 10 Marketing Translation and Localisation Tips

Marketing localisation is an important part of launching a brand effectively into an overseas market, but it can be a complex endeavour. Marketing localisation is the process of adapting materials for a specific group of people, taking into account local cultures, values and expressions. Any kind of marketing content you may have, whether online or in print, will need to be properly localised if you are to successfully sell your services overseas.

In this article we will discuss the intricacies of the marketing translation and localisation process and explain how working with experienced professionals can make the process a great deal easier.

Top 10 Marketing Translation and Localisation Tips

Here are our top ten tips to help you get started:

Knowing your audience

Which countries and territories might want your product? Into which languages should you translate your site? Making these decisions based on solid research is absolutely vital in developing your marketing localisation plan. You should choose your languages carefully. There are many regional variations and dialects. Canada may seem like a great target market, but what is good copy for US English readers may not be suitable for speakers of Canadian French. It is also important to understand the cultural differences that exist around the globe. Finding a good contact within your chosen market is a good way to help you deal with any cultural issues that may arise.

Being clear

Before you begin the process, you must have a very strong idea of what you want to achieve. You should already have a good understanding of your product or service. You also need to have a firm idea of your target audience and the tone and style of your marketing materials. With a coherent brief in place you ensure that you not only clarify your own requirements, but also make it easy to brief others on the assignment. Whether it is a provider of localisation services or a local contact, a clear brief will help them to quickly grasp your product and what you want to achieve from the localisation process.

Working to a budget

Mapping out exactly how much time and money you will need for a successful localisation project is highly recommended. Doing your research and putting contingencies in place will help you to deal with any additional costs which may occur. When planning, keep in mind potential financial issues such as the tax ramifications of trading in another country. Be aware of possible time related issues such as implementing any changes from local feedback. A good provider of localisation services should be able to give you enough information to allow you to plan effectively, but don’t be afraid to ask questions if you are unsure.

Measuring success

Another benefit of having a solid strategy and budget is the chance to be able to monitor progress and draw conclusions about the success of the venture. Setting tangible goals that can be definitively measured will allow you to gain a clear picture of your ROI and help you judge whether or not your expansion has been effective. These goals can take a number of forms, from sales profits to increased web traffic or social media interactions. As long as you can measure the numbers, you can use it as an indicator of success.

Knowing about transcreation

When targeting an overseas market, you should think about whether your marketing message will translate effectively. Are you planning on simply translating the content already on your site, or will you adapt the English content prior to translation? Not all slogans or taglines will translate easily into your target language. Transcreation may need to be applied. Whilst similar, this technique is different from marketing localisation as it involves adapting, rather than translating, the message into a different language. As it is a more creative process, it can add time and also cost to your budget. Knowing in advance which you want can help save time later on.

To learn more about the differences between marketing translation, transcreation and copywriting, read our blog on the subject here.

Learning the preferred marketing channels

If you are taking your organisation to a global market, then you most likely already have a solid marketing strategy. This will serve you well, as many promotional techniques are universal and will still be effective overseas. There are, however, some notable differences in marketing practices across the world, particularly when it comes to online promotion. Social networks are one of the best new tools to use to promote your product or service, but usage can differ dramatically across the globe. Facebook and Twitter are regarded as the biggest and best social networks. They won’t, however, help you in China, as they are banned. Normal SEO methods will also not serve you so well out in the East, as Google pales in popularity compared to Baidu (China) or Yandex (Russia).

Writing for a global audience

When you are writing content that you plan on translating into other languages, a good idea is to keep it simple. Short, concise words and relatively simple sentence construction can help to ensure that content is not lost in translation. Also be wary of the words you use. It is a common occurrence for words and phrases to have different meanings in different places. Universal symbols such as the recycling logo or first aid sign were designed to reduce confusion between languages. Try and use these instead of text when appropriate.

Working with experts

Whilst is it possible to conduct marketing translation in house, working with a language expert will make the entire process much easier. If you do decide to look externally for help, be sure to choose a provider of translation services with a proven track record of successful marketing translation projects. Ideally the provider will use translators who are native speakers. They should also have experience within your particular industry and of writing marketing copy. Try to use as few different translators as possible to ensure a good level of consistency.

Checking thoroughly

At every step of the way, it is important to be checking that content is understood by your target market and ensuring that you are asking questions throughout the process. By doing this, small mistakes can be avoided before they have an impact. It is very important to check your localisation provider completely understands your brief before you agree on an order. Keep in touch with your provider to ensure that your brief is being followed. A good provider of localisation services should send you a translated sample early on in the project. You can then check for style, terminology and cultural identity.

Thinking about the future

Try and look beyond the initial localisation service. Will you be updating your site regularly? If you find that you are making changes to your site or creating lots of additional content, you may also want to have this content translated. A good relationship with a localisation company will help to make these decisions. Good providers will be using [intlink id=”210″ type=”post”]translation memory software[/intlink]. This means that all your content will be remembered for the next time you need it.

There you have our top tips for marketing translation and localisation! Whilst this list is by no means exhaustive, hopefully you now have a better understanding of what to expect from the process. If you have any further questions regarding a particular project, please contact a member of our customer services team on + 44 (0) 1926 335 681 or email

Further help

The following links provide an overview of different translation services and how they can help your business or organisation:

Marketing Translation Services

Transcreation Services

Website Translation Services

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