Digitalization provided marketers with new tools for reaching larger target groups. However, such tools alone are not enough, because each target group needs to be spoken to in its own language.
In this blog article, we explain why multilingual marketing pays off and also give some handy tips on localization.
Benefits of multilingual marketing
If your company has a product or service that could be sold to several target groups in multiple countries, what’s stopping you from increasing sales globally? Naturally, the key benefit of multilingual marketing is reaching new target groups. This offers opportunities for growth and increased sales. Compared with a limited home market, multiple numbers of visitors can be reached by marketing in a new language.
If your home market is Finland, you can theoretically reach a good five million users of the internet. If you localize your product and start marketing it in German, you can potentially reach more than 90 million internet users. Of course, the more common the language, the larger the potential target group in total. Source: Top 10 languages of the internet, according to Internet World Stats.
Existing materials and content can be used in multilingual marketing, especially in content marketing. By localizing existing content for a new market and target audience, you will save time and money, because there’s no need to produce entirely new content. In practice, this means lower customer acquisition costs.
Furthermore, there’s no need to localize all existing content—you only need to localize the content that’s relevant and meaningful for the new target group.
If your company has locations in multiple countries, multilingual marketing enables better brand management. If marketing is managed independently in each of these countries, you run the risk of communicating inconsistently. In multilingual marketing, brand management can be centralized in a marketing unit at the head office, for example. In that case, local operators in various countries support the localization of corporate and product communication. This ensures that messages are consistent and effective, even at the local level.
In which languages should you market?
According to Internet World Stats, English is your best bet. It’s definitely the best choice when your goal is to reach as wide an audience as possible. On the other hand, this immense target audience is fragmented, in terms of both geography and culture. Will the same English-language message speak to potential customers not only in the United States and Canada, but also in Australia, New Zealand and Great Britain?
Then again, English is an excellent compromise because it’s so widely spoken. If your company wants to expand globally, English can be a safe option. It’s safe because your company probably has at least one employee in each location who can respond to customer inquiries in English. The large number of potential customers adds to the safety of this option.
However, there are some reservations when using English. It’s not as effective as a second language—that is, in countries where another language is predominant. You can definitely reach new markets with English, but the local language works better because people prefer to use online services and content in their native language. AAC has actually carried out a study on this. We published a free e-book in English, and marketed it to Finnish and Swedish target audiences in English. A month later, we published the same content in Finnish and in Swedish, and ran similar campaigns in these languages. In the English version, the advertising link had a click-through rate of 0.37%. The Swedish-speaking audience responded much better to the Swedish version, with the click-through rate being 0.89%. The Finnish-language target audience gave the best response to the localized content: the click-through rate was as high as 1.05%.
In other words, it’s most effective to speak to the intended target group in its own language, and it really helps to understand their culture, consumer behavior and consumption habits. This also applies to marketing in general. However, in multilingual communication, you must be aware and considerate of the requirements of other cultures.
Multilingual marketing doesn’t always require that you operate outside your home country. You may discover a new target group in your home market that hasn’t been pursued actively because of a language barrier.
What to consider when localizing marketing
Planning multilingual marketing requires taking into consideration almost as many elements as localizing products. In addition to visibility and effective communication, key aspects include multilingual SEO and transcreation.
Today, search engine optimization and search engine visibility are critical for all companies. Search engine visibility is just as important in new markets. Without visibility, your product will not be found and your company will not be recognized. This is why it makes sense to invest in your website and visibility, which is much more flexible and cost-effective than running an advertising campaign on television or on the radio.
It’s good to keep in mind that advertisers are rarely translators, and vice versa. Even the best SEO wizard may be mistaken when they need to find the most attractive keywords in a new language. A keyword that is highly effective in the home market may not do that well in a new market if translated directly. This again proves the significance of knowing the local culture and terminology thoroughly, which is why dialogue with the translator or the translation service provider is so important. The best keywords are found through cooperation. Read our earlier blog article on multilingual SEO.
In multilingual marketing, transcreation may be as important as SEO. Translating marketing materials directly into the target language may lead to a disappointing response. In addition to conveying meanings and images, getting the tone right is key in marketing. A verbatim translation is destined to fail to attract the same kind of attention as original content in the home market. In fact, it may attract the wrong kind of attention.
Transcreation, or creative translation, may be used instead of or alongside more direct translations. In the transcreation, the original text is replaced by creating content that is suitable for the local culture, in addition to being attractive to the target audience. In other words, the purpose of transcreation is to convey the message in a new language without losing the core message of the product or company. Transcreation is used most commonly in short pieces of advertising copy, such as slogans, banner copy, product descriptions and meta-text. Transcreation can even be used to create new local terms if this serves the company’s goals. The writer of transcreation texts knows the local culture, in addition to being a creatively talented writer.
The more personal the message, the better it will reach the target group. For this reason, you should select a writer who knows the local slang and keeps up with current events and culture, and is therefore able to create personal messages.
A dynamic duo: localization and multilingual marketing
Localization and multilingual marketing are absolutely essential for internationalization. One doesn’t work without the other, which is why it’s smart to invest in both already in the planning stage. A product rarely sells itself—this is particularly true of international markets. This is why you need SEO and search engine visibility, as well as a message that appeals to the local target group. The product must be localized so well that it keeps a potential customer interested long enough to make a purchase, and preferably for much longer.
The strength of multilingual marketing as an investment lies in the fact that you won’t need to recreate all material from the very beginning when entering new markets. You can use previously created content, as long as it’s localized in a manner that makes it attractive to the local target group. This decreases customer acquisition costs in new markets.
Are you planning to enter the global markets? Do you need help with localizing marketing materials? Contact us, and our experts will help you find the localization solutions that best meet your needs. Read our blog article on multilingual marketing strategies. Read more about our multilingual SEO services.