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How to prepare your content marketing for global campaigns

By Josian Phillips, 

Global content marketing is expected to be a $300 billion industry by 2019, with the market for international domain names (IDN) greater than 2.5 billion people – mostly non-native English speakers.

In fact, according to author John Yunker, who pens the Global by Design blog, language localisation is making the Internet truly accessible to the world. He said: “We’re inching closer to a linguistically local Internet, in which people no longer have to leave their native languages to get where they want to go.”

This is a fantastic opportunity for marketers to develop global content marketing campaigns that talk the right language.

Cross the language barrier – translate

The first step is to get your content professionally translated. Watch out for online translation tools like Google Translate. They’re cheaper than professional translation services, but they won’t capture the nuances of language that are so important for engaging content.

Cross the cultural barrier – localise

By contrast, professional translators will understand localisation – they’ll grasp local colloquialisms, humour and cultural sensitivities. Importantly, they’ll also help protect the trust you’ve built for your brand by making sure it isn’t damaged by translation that’s off the mark.

As Paula Shannon of Brand Quarterly said: “Brands must speak to customers not just in their language but in a voice they understand.”

So clearly language translation alone isn’t enough. Your content needs to value the local point of view – to understand the context of peoples’ lives as they live and breathe them. Certain off-cue remarks or missteps can signal you’re an outsider and alienate your audience.

For example, white is associated with death in China, so traditional white-wedding imagery could kill a campaign. A good translation agency will have professional translators on their books who understand local details such as colours, sports, religious references, holidays, financial years and even superstitions.

In the words of Nelson Mandela: “If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.”

Maybe there isn’t a barrier at all – prioritise localisation

However, in a world where revenue-generation is usually the marketing objective, you’re unlikely to have the budget for localisation in each of your global markets. But maybe they don’t all require localisation. And the same could apply to certain pieces of content.

For example, in countries such as The Netherlands or industry groups such as the Nordic IT industry, most people speak English fluently as their second language. So, localisation may not be as important as, say, in China, where only a small fraction of the population speaks English.

Similarly, you may have content that doesn’t require localisation if, for example, it’s technical or instructional and can be read literally with little rhetoric.

To find out more or for free advice, please click here.

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