Website localization is just the first step of many when it comes to reaching and connecting with international audiences.
To support all the hard work and effort you put into the process, you’ll need to create a marketing translation strategy that supports your goals across borders. It will need to be adaptable for each new market you enter. It should also take into account social channels, images, wording, buying preferences, and much, much more.
Get your foundations right and the rest should flow. Below are four steps to help you to do just that.
1. Clarify Your Core Message
When it comes to translation, it can be easy to lose your message. Think how quickly a company’s message of, ‘We’re watching out for you’ can become, ‘We’re watching you’– a lot more ominous and not at all what was intended. Being clear on your core message will help you avoid misunderstandings and keep you true to your goal in any language.
You can – and should – adapt your words and behavior for different markets, but it should never interfere with the message you are trying to get across. Multilingual marketing strategies are about keeping true to your message while adapting it for cultural differences.
While you may change the color scheme for your international sites, the promotional channels you use (Facebook for America versus Weibo for China), and even the events you sponsor, it pays off to keep a consistent look and feel across all sites to support your brand. A strong brand identity relies upon consistency, helping to establish your business as a world leader.
2. Create Easily-Localized Content
Easily-localized content is essential for reducing your multilingual content costs and staying on track with expansion. This doesn’t mean removing all personality and weakening your brand message; it means removing cultural references, idioms, complex language, and local jokes. Doing so will provide fewer problems for translators and reduce ambiguity in your content.
Style guides for individual markets can be immensely helpful for ensuring you don’t lose your brand’s message when creating content. Standardized glossaries can also be useful for more technical or specialized products such as pharmaceuticals or IT.
Once you have created your content and are ready for localization, have someone go over it with a fine toothed comb before passing it along to your localization team. Minor grammatical errors or small typos can cost you big bucks if they’re not found until after you’ve translated the work into multiple languages. Not only that, but sending out marketing materials with spelling mistakes will also hurt your credibility.
3. Don’t Just Translate – Localize
Translating simply changes your words from one language to another. Localization, on the other hand, will make it seem as though it was always intended for that market. This process goes far beyond words. It takes into consideration images, colors, weights, and dates, among other things, to ensure your content is in line with the expectations of your target audiences. To get this balance right, you need to engage people who have experience in the market you are aiming at.
If you are using influencers and celebrities to help promote your product, make sure the ones you are working with are relevant to your overseas markets. Research the popular shows, specific cultural references, and places that will help your message appeal to people from those localities.
KFC is a great example of how to do this. Although they originate in Kentucky, USA, their marketing localization has made them a mainstay of fast food restaurants across the world. The chain successfully sells their chicken in Australia, China, and multiple other countries by fitting in with local expectations.
They incorporate local products, influencers, and adjust their menu for local tastes. For example, rice isn’t an expectation for western fast-food consumers. It is, however, for the Chinese; as such the option is available on KFC menus in this location. While these simple changes are incorporated, their core message of tasty, fresh food remains the same for all.
4. Stay Organized
Planning and implementing a content strategy for multiple audiences means keeping a lot of plates spinning at once. You’ll need to coordinate research teams, marketing specialists, translators, and more. It can be hard to keep on top of everything, so management software that allows you to keep in touch with everyone and see where your campaigns stand at a glance is essential.
An intuitive translation service that integrates with your project management software will help you to keep an eye on all those ‘plates’ and ensure none of them fall and shatter. Consider what you need as well as the technical abilities of the people you are working. This will help you choose something that will work for everyone.
Carefully consider each step when creating your multilingual marketing strategy and make sure you’ve ticked all the boxes before moving on to the next one. This will ensure you have the best chance of making meaningful connections and getting your core brand message across effectively in each location.
Multilingual content marketing strategies are difficult to manage, but they aren’t impossible. Getting them right will bring you closer to reaching the business’ goals.
About the author:
This blog post was contributed by Rae Steinbach. Rae is a graduate of Tufts University with a combined International Relations and Chinese degree. After spending time living and working abroad in China, she returned to NYC to pursue her career and continue curating quality content. Rae is passionate about travel, food, and writing (of course).