MarketingLocalHow Important Is a Translator for an International Digital Marketing Strategy?

How Important Is a Translator for an International Digital Marketing Strategy?

Translating a digital strategy for a global audience goes well beyond Google Translate.

In many ways the world is getting smaller. Transatlantic flights might not be getting substantially quicker, but globalization, the relaxation of trade barriers, and increased interconnectivity have all combined to make international markets more accessible than ever before. Trading overseas used to be seen as something that only larger firms with extensive resources or entrepreneurs with specialist knowledge could do successfully, but this is no longer the case.

There are numerous ways to reach out to international markets. You could seek trading partners within the market, offer direct online sales, or use a ready-made sales platform such as Amazon. However, to start your venture, it’s essential that you get your message across and that means speaking your customers’ language.

It is true that English remains the single most widely used language online. To some extent it can be used as a lingua franca or bridging language, especially in the business world. However, it still represents less than one-third of total online usage. The fact remains that the majority of the world’s population speaks no English at all.

There is also plenty of evidence to suggest that, unsurprisingly, those who speak English as a foreign language prefer to visit websites in their own language when they are available. A Eurobarometer survey found that 45 percent of online users across the European Union only visited websites in their own languages. A global survey by Common Sense Advisory, meanwhile, found that 75 percent of consumers preferred to buy products in their native language. More than half (55 percent) would buy only from websites where information was presented in their language. And this figure is even higher in certain markets such as Japan (70 percent).

Even if you have a product or service you consider to have genuine global appeal, it will usually make sense to concentrate on a limited number of markets initially. Google Analytics is a good starting point to find out where existing international visitors to your website originate. But thorough market research will also help identify your optimum target markets. Working with native translators and researchers can help provide the relevant cultural background and access the facts and figures you need

Localizing Your Website

Your website acts as your virtual shop window and will usually be one of your main assets in reaching international customers. It will often be the first port of call for new customers. Even contacts you make in person or through other channels may want to get a better idea of your business via the contents of your website.

Automatic translation tools can offer a quick and easy solution, but they can also be prone to contextual errors and result in stilted, unprofessional copy. Working with native-speaking translators can not only help ensure you get your content factually correct but can also help with important elements such as cultural references and sensitivity. Don’t forget to localize important details such as currencies and prices, shipping information, and any customs or import duties that might have to be paid by the customer.

Keywords are particularly important for your local SEO, and straight dictionary translations often fail to provide the best results. Abbreviations, acronyms, slang, and other alternative terms are often used and a little local knowledge can be extremely useful when it comes to brainstorming the best keywords for testing.

Translating Other Materials

Your website is not the only resource that you will need to translate. Marketing materials such as brochures, instruction manuals, and online assistance may also need to be translated.

If you maintain a social media presence, you might also want to localize your profiles for important markets. Depending on where these actually are, you might also want to consider going beyond globally recognized platforms like Facebook and Twitter. China is one obvious example, as both Facebook and Twitter are officially banned. Local alternatives include Tencent’s Qzone, which reports a massive 645 million monthly active users. The Twitter-style Tencent Weibo reports 15 million monthly active users and Sina Weibo a further 73 million.

Translation Is an Ongoing Process

Localization is an ongoing process rather than a one-off task. Effective social media campaigns require regular updates, posts, and responses, while blogs and content marketing can help extend and maintain your reach. The main copy of your website and some marketing materials may not require updating as frequently, but they will still need to be changed to reflect changing circumstances, such as new product launches and news announcements.

Working with the same translation partner can help you remain consistent in tone and message. Translation databases can be built up, which can be used to store technical terms and passages that have been used before.

Reaching out across to foreign markets can throw up a lot of challenges, but working with professional translation partners can certainly help make the process easier.

Image via Shutterstock.

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