Developing a global marketing strategy can be overwhelming. There’s so much to consider – which markets to prioritize, coordinating launches with stakeholders, and how to actually execute on brand, on time, and on budget. When it comes to going global, it’s understandable that marketers are often tempted to focus on the most tangible component of global marketing: translation.
But there’s so much more to effective global marketing than translation, and failing to think beyond translation can seriously hinder marketers’ future success.
Here are five global marketing myths every marketer should consider.
Myth 1: You have to translate all your content
In marketing, it’s not quantity, but quality – and relevance – that matters. The same is true for going global. Translating all your website content may feel like a win and give you a neat, straightforward line-item cost that’s useful for comparing localization service providers.
But translation alone will likely not get you the results you’re looking for in terms of engagement and conversion. It’s much more effective (and budget-friendly) to translate and localize only the key content that is most likely to resonate with your in-market audience and expand your content from there.
Beware that many localization providers prefer high-volume translation delivery versus a staged approach, so finding the right partner is key to avoiding the “translate-everything” route.
Myth 2: Translating content is all you need to be successful in-market
There is a powerful case for translation when it comes to boosting international engagement. According to the CSA, a majority of international consumers prefer to make purchase decisions in their own language, regardless of their English proficiency.
However, translation alone isn’t likely enough to wow your international audiences. Successful marketing content isn’t just understandable; it inspires the reader to take action.
For marketing, in particular, straight translation is a dead giveaway that the content was not written with your in-market audience in mind. Obviously translated content can be off-putting to international consumers (especially in more competitive markets). Just like your domestic audience, your international prospects expect an experience tailored to their language, culture, and needs. If your in-market competition is doing a better job of that, your ROI will suffer.
Linguistically, this means taking a more thoughtful approach to localizing your marketing content. As part of that, your unique voice should be adapted and conveyed in an authentic, natural way that resonates with your target audience.
It also means paying attention to the little things that make for a great brand experience. How are you establishing trust with your target market(s)? Do they have the information they need to take the desired action? How easy is it for users to take that action? And is your web content optimized for in-country search so your international customers can find it?
Myth 3: You don’t have to adapt content for other English-speaking markets
English-fluent markets may share a common language, but that doesn’t mean they search for, engage with, or convert from English content in the same way.
Localizing your content for other English-speaking markets goes beyond changing “ize” to “ise,” or “stroller” to “pram.” It also involves understanding what those audiences care about. What their purchasing behavior looks like, what they expect from the user experience – and adapting your marketing strategy to suit.
Of course, geography comes into play, too. You wouldn’t want to target Australians with summer-related content in June. Or assume Canadians would find content around a US-specific event particularly engaging.
Again, relevance and personalization are crucial. Especially if your industry is competitive. Ignoring linguistic and cultural differences between English-speaking markets can seriously limit your growth potential.
Myth 4: What works well in one market will work well in another
If you have an incredibly successful domestic campaign, you may find it falls flat when you take it to another market, especially if all you do is translate it. Every market has its own nuances. These need to be taken into account for your efforts to pay off.
For example, technical- and data-focused content – presented in plain language – often resonates better with German audiences. Consumers in France prefer content related to people and relationships. Brits engage more with witty content and humor can be a great way to foster brand loyalty.
Beyond that, social media, eCommerce, and search platform usage can differ significantly by market. Your global marketing strategy needs to take that into account.
Which platforms you use – and how you adapt your content for each market – will depend on the local market landscape. Your industry, your positioning, the competition, and the demographics of your target audience all play into translation and localization strategy. In-country research will inform how you should approach content and which platforms you need to pay attention to. And testing will help you refine your approach and increase engagement.
Myth 5: Translation management software must be part of your global marketing strategy
There’s a right time for translation management systems (TMS) as part of your localization strategy. But for many companies, that isn’t at the start of their global marketing journey.
TMS tools are often more tech solutions for complex language workflow than they are marketing content tools. They facilitate high-volume translation, many offering quick and simple website localization solutions.
But they’re not, on the whole, great at supporting modern digital marketing best practice. In-market SEO, locale-specific UX and page content, dynamic content, and adaptable website structures that scale at the local level can be left cold.
Rushing into a TMS implementation can stick your company with an expensive annual subscription. Many companies experience unforeseen administrative overhead in bending their process to TMS software, and websites (and by extension, digital strategy) can be limited by how these tools are designed.
Achieving ROI on TMS solutions is about having a strong strategy to drive the selection process. Evaluate TMS solutions as you would any other component of your marketing tech stack. How will it add value to your current setup? How will it interact with and complement the tools you’re already using? Will it limit or accelerate your growth as your marketing strategy evolves past pure linguistic needs?
If you don’t have a compelling case for using translation software (beyond the ease of translating your website and related content), consider taking a staged approach. Focus on quality over quantity. Investing those valuable budget dollars in a targeted, multi-channel global marketing strategy can quickly deliver results to prove the case for localization. And set you up for long-term, in-market success while informing your future software needs.
Translation is important. But it’s a tactic, not your goal. Developing a successful global marketing strategy – one that truly engages your international audiences and drives long-term results – takes the same care and consideration as your domestic strategy. By thinking beyond translation, understanding the local landscape, and getting to the heart of what motivates your in-market audiences, you’ll be well positioned to engage, convert, and delight them. And you’ll set your brand up for scalable growth in the process.