It has never been easier to reach consumers in global markets with digitalisation paving the way to cross-border trade. However, while reaching global audiences can involve just a few clicks of a mouse, engaging with them and ultimately acquiring new customers is not so straightforward.
The digital world is content rich, while consumers are time poor, which means global marketers have to work hard to stand out in a crowded marketplace. Merely translating your marketing content for new markets is not enough; localisation is required to make it truly engaging and to compel consumers to take action.
How to get marketing localisation right
Buyer personas are an essential tool for engaging with your target customer. While they may not change radically from country to country, there are key differences between different markets in the way buyers engage with brands. Therefore it is extremely important to understand how consumers in your target market respond to marketing and advertising content, and how that impacts on your translation projects.
In some markets there may be fundamental differences that make your source marketing campaign culturally inappropriate. The use of certain imagery, slogans and straplines, or the emotive message being communicated, may simply not have the same impact as in your domestic market. In these situations it may be necessary to develop separate campaigns for a specific market, or use a combination of transcreation and original copywriting to tweak elements of the campaign to make it more culturally appropriate.
However, many marketing translations do not require extensive transcreation and professional copywriting services. Instead they require a combination of translation and localisation to ensure that the while the overall brand position and key message remains the same, the content hits the spot in your target market.
Localisation is more than simply translating text, word for word. It takes your marketing content and personalises it for the target audience drawing on the knowledge of that market and what consumers engage with.
The following tips will help your business create and translate engaging marketing content:
Identify what content is ripe for localisation
Most global marketing budgets will not allow all marketing assets to be translated and localised for a new market. So it is important to prioritise the most effective content to translate. Use in market reviewers to look at your marketing collateral and identify the campaigns that have the greatest potential.
Localise the entire campaign
Few marketing assets exist in isolation; most are part of a campaign involving multiple touch points. For example, a print advert might include the URL for the company website or social media icons. If you’ve gone to the trouble of localising the advert for your target market, that URL should point prospects to a localised website, and if they search for your business on social media they should find localised social media accounts too. Similarly, if a PPC ad has been localised and points to a landing page, that landing page must be localised as well as any links from it to other pages. This consistency provides the best possible customer experience; helping to nurture and convert prospects effectively.
Know when NOT to translate
Although localisation is important, there are times when it is not necessary and sometimes it may actually be detrimental. If your business is a well established international brand consumers may find your content more engaging when some English elements are retained; such as a strapline that they know from watching YouTube videos or TV ads. In markets where western goods are very desirable, such as China, retaining the ‘Englishness’ of the brand is important, and that might include visual as well as written elements. Localisation will help you identify which elements do need to be changed, and which work effectively in your target market.
As new content assets are created for your domestic market, we recommend that localisation becomes part of this process. By addressing localisation at the start of a project, your multilingual marketing campaigns will be more successful. Where possible think about the following points when developing new content:
What markets will it be used in? Having a clear idea of where your marketing content will be used helps to reduce the costs of your translation projects by avoiding more expensive transcreation and copywriting.
Avoid culturally specific images and graphics. Unless your marketing content is selling ‘Englishness’ or another culturally specific idea, avoid using images and graphics that will need replacing for other markets.
Don’t embed text in graphics. If text is a component of a graphic or image, for example a button symbol that says, ‘click here’, the text will need to be extracted, translated and then reimported. Costs can be kept down by using inline graphics where the text exists in the HTML.
Limit the volume of text. Where possible avoid too much text as you pay for each word that requires translation.
Embrace white space. When translating from English to another language text expansion is common. If there is not sufficient space to accommodate the translated text, a redesign may be needed. Allow for text expansion, and contraction, depending on the languages your content will be translated into.
Use clear language. If your text contains lots of linguistic characteristics such as jargon, slang, puns and idioms it becomes harder to translate and alternative phrases will need to be found. This increases the cost of the project.
Develop a glossary of terminology. Try to avoid using multiple different words for the same thing as this can be confusing to translate and could result in a mistranslation. Define industry or company-specific terminology and phrases; your translation service provider will then agree the translated versions of these to ensure consistency throughout all translations.
Going the extra mile by using localisation will make your marketing translations much more engaging and effective in global markets. If you’re not sure when or where to use localisation, get in touch with our team to discuss your global marketing campaigns. Call +44 (0) 1926 335 681 or email firstname.lastname@example.org