Rob Gorby, VP at SDL, explains how you can successfully proliferate your marketing on foreign soil
Q. Dear B2B, we want to extend our marketing reach to international waters. How can we start marketing to international markets?
Building a successful business in your home market is tough. But when it comes to growing an international business through export, it’s a whole new ball game. Having the best product or service that everyone wants and needs still isn’t enough. Businesses need to find a way of developing a relationship with all customers, while demonstrating their value with access to products and services that they want. And all of this needs to take place in the customer’s own language.
Although in many ways the world is getting smaller, it’s not getting any less complex. Two-thirds (66%) of UK businesses say they already operate in European markets, where 23 different languages are spoken, and almost a fifth (17%) plan to dip their toes into Asian markets.
Yet paradoxically, while over two thirds (71%) say localising content is key in reaching out to consumers, more than a quarter (26%) of UK businesses admit
they don’t adapt their content for foreign markets
– 23% say it’s not even a consideration.
Considering the opportunities available on the global stage, why aren’t all businesses speaking to consumers in their own language? The complexities involved in translating content for a global audience can be simplified with the following steps.
Understand your target market
Have you done your research and explored all the potential opportunities available? To ensure your marketing efforts are successful, it’s crucial to understand the market you’re entering. The opportunity for your products and services may be different overseas, requiring an entirely different go-to-market strategy, delivery method and aftercare support. Always talk to people in the market first to validate your assumptions about the nature of the market and its state of development.
Talk the same language
Offering your website and social media content in various languages is a huge asset, as it enables you to reach a far greater audience. Our recent YouGov research revealed that poor use of language is proven to discourage people from buying online. A third of the respondents admitted they would be discouraged from making an online purchase if the retailer had poor language skills. While one in 10 consumers surveyed would abandon the purchase altogether due to poor language.
Localise your translated content
Though sharing many similarities, translation and localisation have a different output. International marketing requires an understanding of cultural dos and don’ts to get the desired impact in the different regions you’re targeting. An ad campaign that is well received in Europe may not be successful or appropriate in Asia. The key word is ‘localisation’ (not translation) which means making your product speak in an appropriate and culturally relevant way. Thorough research around culture, local features, similarities and differences will be crucial to your marketing success, keeping in mind the aim is to be understood.
Choose your words wisely
An established company’s tone of voice may be familiar and colloquial in its native country, but this won’t necessarily transfer across different countries and cultures and it shouldn’t be taken for granted that it will. The language used when entering new markets overseas should be thought about very carefully.
In the Middle East and Far Eastern countries, formality and politeness are highly valued. Whereas in America, broadly speaking, a more informal tone of voice is generally accepted in both the business and consumer market. Businesses must take time to establish what their messaging will be when going abroad and work with their network of local contacts to ensure that they won’t get caught out by mistranslations or culturally inappropriate phrases.
Personalisation has become an
in recent times, but its importance shouldn’t be downplayed. The content marketer that fails to take heed will ultimately fall behind and risk alienating new markets with, at best, impersonal; at worst, simply offensive content. However, there are simple and importantly cost-effective ways to avoid this fate. From using style guides to their full potential and employing translation memory technology to choosing words wisely, the savvy content marketer will be flying in this ever global world.
When it comes to content creation across a global marketplace, what’s the status quo in B2B land? We surveyed over 200 B2B marketers to find out how they’d rate their own ability to ‘go global’ from a content perspective – and explored what it takes to get it right.