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Three ways translation can help boost your international trading

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You’re going global and English is the global language of business, so why should translation feature in your international trading? Well, from your website to your social media, getting the translations right can make a massive difference to your marketing. Let us explain how.

Targeting consumers online

We’ve spoken in the past about the importance of targeting your SEO in Asia – especially with regard to local search engines and country-specific rules and regulations. But the value of locally targeted domains, search terms and dialect applies to every country where you want to sell your product or service.

It’s true that English is the most popular language on the internet. But you may not realise just how little that matters in the context of global marketing. Just 25% of internet users speak English as their first language, so without translation you could be sidelining three quarters of the world’s online traffic.

The top five is then made up of Chinese at 20%, Spanish at 8%, Arabic at 5% and Portuguese at 4%, and the rapid drop in these percentages becomes even more pronounced the further down the list you go. The reason for this is simple: people almost always search for products in their own language.

You can choose to target individual countries or broaden your focus depending on how local you want to be with your marketing. Here, the domain, content and coding of your website will determine whether you reach customers in one particular country or speakers of that language worldwide.

For example, having a local domain (e.g. yoursite.es) means your content will be made available to searchers in that country. On the other hand, having a subdomain (es.yoursite.com) with code that indicates the language (like hreflang) means that no matter where your customers happen to be, if they’re searching in your chosen language then your website will be in the results.

Whichever route you choose, you must think carefully about which language to use. For example, if you’re focusing on all Spanish speakers then it makes sense to have your content translated in classic Spanish. But if you are targeting Argentina alone then you need the dialect and cultural references that can only come with Argentinian-Spanish – the differences are subtle, but significant to a native speaker.

Trading through social media

According to Hootsuite, nearly half of the world’s population uses social media, with 3.48 billion current users and more than a million new people joining every single day. Whether through organic engagement or paid advertising, coordinating your social campaigns internationally can be an extremely effective way of boosting your revenue.

Your audience will naturally determine your social network (and as we’ve pointed out before, it’s important to consider the value of local platforms). But whatever your choice, remember that social networking is about engagement, and the only way to do that properly is with locally targeted, culturally relevant messages.

The nature of social media also means that mistakes can be amplified. The last thing you want is to become an internet meme for getting things wrong. For example, during the 2014 World Cup, Delta Airlines celebrated the US beating Ghana with a picture of the Statue of Liberty ‘winning’ against a giraffe. Unfortunately, there are no giraffes in the wild in Ghana, forcing the company to publicly apologise for its mistake. Getting your content checked by an in-country specialist is the best way of ensuring that your messages land effectively.

Selling through video marketing

A recent study found that video content is up to 600% more impactful than print and direct mail combined. It delivers better engagement, traffic, leads and sales and helps grow revenue faster than almost any other marketing tactic. But similar to your written content, creating videos in English alone severely limits their capacity for international impact. In fact, 60% of all Youtube users choose a language other than English, so your video will need translating if you want it to appeal to audiences in other countries.

If you choose to use subtitles, it’s always better to use captions translated by a professional service. While Youtube offers automated, machine-translated subtitles, these are notoriously poor in terms of accuracy and search engine performance.

Alternatively, you can opt for a translated voiceover, whether as dubbed-over audio, lip-synced or UN-style (i.e. keeping the original speaker faintly audible in the background with the voice-over dominating).

If you are filming video content with the intention of translating it for global appeal, it’s worth building this into your planning from the beginning. This includes little things like allowing space at the bottom of your content where subtitles can run without disrupting the action, or adding some pauses within the content to allow for longer phrases by a voice-over in a different language.

The nature of doing business globally now means that the fastest and most lucrative methods of reaching your customers are almost always online.  But with internet users expecting a seamless, enjoyable experience across their entire digital world, the responsibility falls on companies to make sure their online presence meets these exacting standards.

To learn how translation can help boost your international trading, contact one of our project managers today.