There are more than 7.5 billion people on Earth, and most speak a native language other than English. Even in the United States, at least 350 languages are spoken. As a brand marketer who hopes to engage these households — as well as international audiences — you’ll need to translate your messaging into the language your prospective customers prefer.
When it comes to written content, translation is a relatively straightforward undertaking. Material that’s designed to be read doesn’t have to account for regional dialects and other linguistic nuances. Audio content, on the other hand, can easily lose its impact if it’s not developed with a deep understanding of local customs, cultural norms, and speech patterns that characterize the intended audience. Thus, your international marketing campaign must take these factors into account to be effective.
Communication as a Competitive Advantage
Not sure where to begin? Try updating your phone system recordings so you can serve international markets. You can also dub over your most popular video content to ensure you can quickly deploy your marketing assets. Outside of some minor editing, there are few additional production costs associated with dubbing. This makes it an affordable and appealing way to communicate your messaging to audiences.
Translated audio content (e.g., transcripts or captions) can also differentiate your brand in international markets. Even if you’re facing competition, translating audio content to align with regional linguistic preferences signals to prospective customers that you’re making a concerted effort to earn their business. Such an effort inspires confidence and trust and shows that you care about getting your communications right.
The best part is that dubbing and captioning content makes it accessible to audiences who are deaf, hard of hearing, blind, or visually impaired. In many countries, video captions or subtitles are required by law to ensure viewers are able to engage with content. Plus, research from Netflix shows that dubbed audio is generally more effective than subtitling in terms of holding viewer attention, although each one appeals to different audiences for different reasons.
Translation Tips for Developing an International Brand Presence
If you’re hoping to reach an international audience, you’ll need to create content that speaks their language. Only then will you be able to elevate your brand worldwide. Here are four translation tips to help you see success:
- Start with research.
Translating content into a new language or dialect will take work, so you’ll want to be sure it’s worth the effort before you get started. You might consider distributing a short customer survey to understand your target audience’s linguistic preferences and to identify points of potential miscommunication that might arise.
If your target audience is diverse, it’s much easier to translate your collateral into just one or two languages. Lean on your research to identify which languages you want to target first. Do most of your international customers speak French? Is it easier to start with Spanish? Focus on communicating with one demographic effectively. Once you can do that, you can consider expanding your translation efforts.
- Prioritize existing content.
You shouldn’t have to launch an entirely new marketing campaign to sell an existing offering in a new country or region. Instead, identify your top-performing assets and translate those into the preferred language of your target audience. These could include social media materials, owned media that exists on your website or other digital properties, or paid advertising efforts that can be easily translated.
- Leverage the right channels.
Upload your most popular videos with translations or dubs to YouTube or other platforms with a broad reach in the market you’re targeting. In Brazil, for example, consumers use platforms like Globo.com and UOL to consume content related to news and sports, while in Europe, websites like Dailymotion are popular. Podcasting is another great way to connect with diverse audiences. Storytelling or interview podcasts can be created in multiple languages and help your brand reach niche audiences. Given the trust many listeners place in the hosts of their favorite shows, podcast sponsorships can also be an effective way to introduce your brand to a new audience. According to Deloitte, the global podcasting market increased by 30% in 2020. And in 2021, listeners in places like India and South America continue to tune in with greater frequency, creating a growing demand for multilingual content.
- Measure your results.
As with any marketing initiative, you’ll want to track your success when it comes to expanding your geographic reach. Pay attention to awareness metrics first. Use Google Analytics to filter website visitors by location and language and see how many visits you’re generating from the countries you’re targeting. Then, look at how many leads come from those countries and how often they become customers.
If a large percentage of your visitors speak a language you haven’t considered yet, this might signal an opportunity for expansion. Ultimately, your goal is sustained, meaningful growth. Traffic might be negligible in the beginning, but over time, your multilingual content should lead to a steady influx of new customers.
Written by David Ciccarelli.
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