Brands are not standing still. They are reaching out to international audiences in this new, smaller world of cyberspace. In fact, a recent study by Smartling showed that companies, on average, have expanded into 6 countries other than their own.
The other key point made by the same study is that people prefer to access content and make purchases in their own languages (75% of those queried).
Localization case made. But here’s the thing. According to the American Marketing Association, over 60% of businesses looking to expand further into overseas markets complain that manual translation is too time-consuming and that they are looking to use machine translations more. Probably not a good idea.
Here are six tips that are good ideas.
Translation ≠ Localization
Here is where a number of business owners get it wrong. It is one thing to translate a website, a blog, social media posts, and other marketing materials. It is quite another to localize all of that content for a foreign audience.
Localization means that content, both textual and visual, is appropriate for the cultural mores of a demographic. It means that idiomatic expressions are carefully analyzed so that their meanings are clear and not offensive to a foreign audience.
From best practice website localization to the way you shape your social media strategy, localization can make a huge difference to how effectively you engage with customers in other languages.
Some of these localization “rules” are obvious. You would not market beef to a strong Hindu population; young women in scant bikinis would offend a conservative Muslim population. Others are not so obvious, and many large companies have made errors through translation and not localization.
- When Gerber Baby Foods went into Africa, it quickly found that it had to change the picture of that cute little baby on the label. Because illiteracy is so high there, many labels contain only pictures of what is inside, and people take those literally.
- The American Dairy Association began to advertise in Latin America. Its slogan, “Got milk?” was literally translated into Spanish. However, its meaning in that language was “Are you lactating?”
While Google Translate and other translation plugins are getting better, especially through AI and machine learning, they are not comparable to human translation.
Fortunately, several WordPress plugins allow you to connect directly to manual translation agencies, and you can get the human translations you should. If you are looking for a translation agency, check out Pick Writers. It is a site that provides reviews of translation agencies, and you will be able to find a good one.
Everyone is aware of the need for popular keywords and keyword phrases in their SEO efforts. But, in translating these keywords for foreign audiences, things may be very different.
Google Adwords and SEM Rush will accommodate keyword research quite well in English. The key will be to conduct the research that will provide keywords and phrases that are popular with the foreign audiences you are trying to reach.
Again, enlisting the services of a translation agency with natives from those foreign audiences may be something that will give you a competitive edge over your competition. They will simply be translating keywords in a literal sense. You, on the other hand, will have the expertise of natives who can provide recommendations for them in their languages.
This has already been briefly addressed. Obviously, any photos, videos, or other multimedia is now a major factor in engaging readers, as the research clearly shows. People are in a hurry and they want information “on the go.” Multimedia meets that need.
Transcriptions, captions, subtitles and the content itself must be localized. You cannot offend by shoddy or incomplete translations or localization. Don’t decide that you can do this yourself. Others have tried and failed.
Using a good WordPress plugin that will include multimedia translation options is a start. But then, you must make sure that those translations are totally appropriate for your foreign audience – the image itself, the captions, transcriptions, etc. This will require manual analysis.
UI and Navigation Localization
This is an area that requires a lot of work. There are technical issues involved here. Consider just the different alphabets in languages such as Arabic, Japanese or Chinese. Your user interface will have to be modified to accommodate these, and it may involve changes to back-end coding of your content.
Consider, for example, checkout and payment methods, as well as alphabets. You will probably need more than simple RTF, and if you do not have the expertise, get it. You will be happy that your foreign audiences are having a user experience and interface with which they are familiar, and they will be happy that all of their actions can be taken without any hassle.
Conversions – Making them Simple and Accessible
This cannot be over-emphasized. If you want to turn foreign audiences off, all you have to do is make it hard for them to complete the conversions you want.
As you have your site and other content optimized for foreign audiences, make sure that you check in with a local expert to ensure that your buttons, purchase processes, etc. are optimized for the foreign audiences you are targeting.
Honor Your Foreign Audience with Communication
You want feedback and comments from your audiences, no matter their language or geographic location. And this can be a perfect way to improve your localization strategies.
International audiences that access your website will have advice on how you can improve your translation and localization. This is invaluable because it comes directly from your target audience.
Ask for feedback and comments. It will improve your relationships with target audiences and show them that you really care about providing content that honors their languages and culture.
A Final Word
Reaching out to foreign audiences takes work and a developed and organized strategy. Having a WordPress site helps because there are plugins and options that will make your efforts easier.
Nothing can replace the advice and expertise of a local native, however. Whatever you do, be certain to enlist the services of a translation agency or an individual who can provide the expertise you need.