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Going beyond auto-translate: Here’s how to create effective international content marketing campaigns

We’ve all had that experience of copying and pasting something into google translate and getting gobbledygook in return. Auto-translate is certainly an effective tool for the intrepid traveller but has no place in the content marketing strategy of your business, to a global audience. In fact, using slang like ‘gobbledygook’ is a prime example of what not to do, when localising content for other global markets. If you’ve cornered the market in your part of the world, there’s no reason to limit your business potential here. To get quality content to grow your brand, check out copywriting services.

The global online population has risen to 63% and growth in foreign languages such as Chinese, Spanish and Arabic, continues to grow in the millions. Your business has far-reaching opportunities to connect with billions of people worldwide if your content marketing is tailored to those local markets. Developing a content strategy with the goal to reach a global audience from the outset can put you on a path to generating online leads and creating an internationally scalable business.

Multilingual content marketing is not new and there are many technologies that can address this, however, unique cross-cultural differences will always exist. Your global content marketing strategy will need to reflect these differences and will need to be adapted to each new market your business enters. 

5 ways to create content marketing campaigns on an international scale

There are a number of challenges that come with entering a new international market. You will need to consider wording and images, as much as the channels you use and the ways you use them. So, it’s important to prepare for your marketing campaign to ensure that it’s positively received by the local audience.

Here are five things you need to do before entering a new international market.

1. Research your audience

We mentioned that Google Translate has no place in content marketing, but as with most initial research, Google is a good place to get a broad overview of information and a good starting point to begin your in-depth research into this new territory. Research the local web of your target market and browse online publications, so that you can gain an understanding of the types of content your market engages in. From this, you’ll get an understanding of the style, tone and wording of the content. 

It’s also important to research what sites publish the content and what forms of content the audience typically engages in, whether it be articles, blog posts, social media or podcasts. Having this critical information will allow you to decide how to adapt your existing content or whether you need to create new and original material for that audience. Going beyond your own research, consulting with an expert native speaker of that region can give you valuable insights into the content you create. 

2. Understand the local culture

People will feel connected to your brand if you include aspects of their local culture in your content. This includes a wide array of things from food, dress, lifestyle, literature, sport and other features that are learned and shared by a community. Linguistic features and expressions are also instant giveaways to a culture i.e. you need to know whether a country is using the metric or imperial systems of measurement and ensure these are converted appropriately.

If you’re tailoring your content to several different audiences it is best to avoid using slang, idiomatic phrases and jokes. Not only will this make translation easier and your message clearer, but it will also avoid embarrassing cultural mishaps. Nivea, the German leading skincare brand, came under scrutiny for their “White is purity” advertisement used for the brand’s Middle Eastern audience, which was consequently removed.

Image source: SEMRush

To ensure that your content is both culturally and linguistically appropriate, hiring an in-country copywriter or an editor will give your content the native speaker flare that really helps to engage your audience. You may even decide that outsourcing to in-country writers to create and post your content is an even better option, which would then allow you to focus on other emerging markets and further your content strategy.

3. Keep messages simple

Your source content may be translated into several different languages and you need to make sure that your brand message is consistent across countries. This is why it’s important to keep your message simple. The simpler the message, the less likely a miscommunication can arise or possibly offend. 

This doesn’t mean that you should strip your message of personality or tone down your brand voice, but leaving out complicated and culture-specific language will make translation easier. Remember that you may be changing the language of your content, but you’re not changing your core message. 

Even though you’re pitching to a global audience, it’s important to remember that you are still engaging your target market, which includes common traits such as age, gender, socioeconomic status and educational background. Building a buyer persona can allow you to create more targeted messaging for your potential customers in different countries. Even across languages, it’s important to say the same thing, in the same way, every time you say it.  

4. Identify content distribution channels

Once you have your refined piece of content, the next step is to think about how and where you will distribute this material. You may already have a content distribution strategy in your own country and already have a schedule of when, how often and what time of the day your content will be published. You will need to adjust this schedule to cater for your new international audience within different time zones. 

In addition to scheduling the release of your content, you need to know what communication channels are preferred by your audience, whether they be owned, paid or earned media channels. You can mix and match the use of these channels, which could include your business website, video streaming and social media platforms. Research into the networks used most by your target audience in each particular country. Western social media channels such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn might not be popular in your targeted region – for instance, Renren and Orkut are the Facebook to China and Brazil respectively. Using the most relevant channels will help to ensure your content’s visibility to your target audience. 

You will need to create a new distribution strategy and gather data on your audience’s online behaviour from what platform they are most receptive to, and how long they spend on each platform. Remember you want to amplify and maximise the reach of your content by publishing on the most popular platforms and releasing your content at optimal times. 

5. Measure your success

Finally, it’s important that you can measure the success of your international marketing campaign. Know what your content marketing goals are and fix your KPIs against these goals. 

The graph below shows typical content marketing goals paired up with KPIs to measure them against.

Data from SEMRush

It may be the case that your initial content marketing strategy is not giving you the results you want, i.e. a social media channel isn’t showing an ideal number of views. This is common, especially when targeting a new foreign audience. You will need to tweak and make adjustments to your strategy as your campaign is rolled out. In time, you will find the best path to success in that region, and can then set your sights on yet another potential market by utilising these five techniques.

By utilizing the expertise of copywriting services, you can adapt and refine your content marketing strategy to effectively resonate with the new foreign audience, ensuring maximum engagement and paving the way for successful expansion into additional potential markets.

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