To an inexperienced eye, modern-day businesses have it pretty easy when it comes to entering new, foreign markets. Why wouldn’t it be, when they have all the right technologies and logistics at their disposal to grant them success, as well as all the power of digital marketing to reach and attract new audiences?
Borders seem irrelevant, that’s true, but then there are different supply chain problems and foreign laws and regulations to deal with. Along with these practical issues, the fact remains that political, economic, and cultural differences can also become obstacles too hard to overcome. Language barriers can also be quite challenging if we bear in mind that almost 73% of consumers claim that they would rather purchase an item when information is available in their language.
Needles to say, the success of digital marketing campaigns in multicultural markets can vary significantly – and it all depends on how well your campaign is tailored to fit the needs of local target audiences. Here are the six essential tips to have your multilingual strategy and increase your odds of success.
1. Stay Away From Automatic Translations
Even though there are some translation tools available, never rely on them when translating the content for your digital media campaigns. These tools are becoming more and more advanced, but they do have their “creative” moments.
According to the BBC, back in 2016, Google’s algorithm was quite eccentric. Due to some “technical error” when internet users were converting Ukrainian to Russian, there were quite a few vivid translations. For example, the Russian Federation was translated as “Mordor.”
The quality of automatic translation is still nowhere near that provided by human translators, so avoid them for marketing purposes.
2. Invest in Professional Translation Services
Any mistakes and glitches in translation can be quite costly when it comes to entering a foreign market, and not only in terms of your profit, but also your reputation.
Mercedes Benz, for example, managed to survive being lost in translation. The German car manufacturer used the name Bensi when the brand was launched in China. Sounds cool, right? Not very much, if we bear in mind that it means “rush to die” in Chinese. Fortunately, they’ve noticed their mistake rebranded it to Benchi, meaning “run quickly as if flying.”
Avoid using cheap and easy translation solutions and go for high-quality translation, even if it means investing a bit more than you expected. If you opt for having your content translated by your bilingual or multilingual employees, friends or family, at least have it checked and proofread by native speakers.
3. Use Transcreation for Promotional Purposes
While there are certain types of content where an accurate translation will be enough, such as product descriptions, instructions, or how-tos, some types of content should be transcreated to better fit the needs of the local audience. That’s because translation will adapt the linguistic aspect of the content, but it won’t take into account cultural differences and location specifics.
Hiring local marketers to recreate your campaigns in their native language is essential for conveying the same tone and message of your promo campaign while taking into account the peculiarities of the local market.
Local marketers will use words that even the best translators would never think of, and words so specific to a particular region that they resonate with the audience perfectly. For example, Spanish has so many unique words to describe people, emotions, or situations that don’t even exist in English but would add real value to a localized campaign.
4. Include Local Figures in Your Campaigns
Your digital marketing campaigns will be more powerful when they come with a name and a face attached. The human element is what captures attention, as well as recommendations from real people the audience can recognize or relate to.
Try to include well-known local figures in your campaigns – experts, entrepreneurs, bloggers, as well as satisfied customers. This approach can help you communicate your message better and thus attract the right audiences, as well as build trust and reputation.
5. Don’t Forget About Cultural Differences
When creating your campaigns, you need to be extra cautious of cultural sensitivities and different perceptions of some phrases and expressions. Understanding cultural differences is critical to avoid inadvertently offending your audience. Big brands can afford epic fails, but for smaller companies, these kinds of blunders can be quite costly.
Don’t be like the Singaporean sushi chain, Maki-san, which ended up with backlash after introducing the “Maki Kita” dish on social media and offending its Malayan customers. In Malay, “Maki Kita” means “Curse us.” This could have been avoided if people behind the campaign remembered to check how their new promo name translates to one of the audience segments they targeted.
Also, research every local market individually to identify their main topics of interest. Google Trends can help you find the most popular keywords and hottest topics in a specific country that you can use for content ideas.
6. Use Paid Social Media Campaigns
You need to know that popular social media networks differ from one market to another.
Don’t assume that Facebook or Instagram campaigns will work everywhere. Find out what social media channels are most commonly used among your potential audience in targeted countries. This is especially important if you’re thinking about entering Chinese or Russian markets.
Localize your social media pages, instead of publishing posts in one language only and adapting your social media posts to a local audience.
Lastly, having an organic follower base is essential, but since free social media campaigns aren’t that effective, expand your reach and boost engagement by using paid, targeted social media campaigns.
By using these six tips above, you’re much closer to entering a huge international market and playing it safe. Just keep in mind that it’s always better to put in a little more effort from the start and invest more in proper, comprehensive translation, than to have to go back after the launch and work on fixing a poorly executed multilingual campaign.
Natasha is a lady of a keyboard whose fields of expertise could be summed up in digital marketing, branding, and growth-hacking related topics. She is always happy to collaborate with awesome blogs by sharing her knowledge. These days Natasha is all about helping businesses to grow smoothly and strong. To see what she is up to next, check her out on Twitter.