Most companies put a great deal of effort and resources into creating a website and other digital content when marketing in their own country. But when it comes to global e-commerce, they often miss the mark. As such, we’ve taken a look at why marketers so often don’t get the best out of translation when targeting overseas audiences – and how they can turn that around to ensure that their translation efforts have maximum impact.
Why Do Businesses Need More Than Just Website Translation?
Why would a marketer directly translate their website and simply assume it will serve their customers overseas? One reason is a lack of understanding of the process of successfully translating the content to cater to their target audience. In this article, we will cover the basics of translating your website for the best possible outcome, from getting to know your international customers to how localization services are key to success.
Planning the global expansion of your company is exciting. Unfortunately, most organizations don’t have in-house multilingual translators, and relying on tools like Google Translate can spell disaster. Such software translates text word for word, often producing incoherent and grammatically incorrect results. For your target market to trust you, don’t insult them with poorly translated webpages – use professional website translation services.
For medical documents, accurate translation is necessary from a safety perspective (the ingredients in medication, for example). However, website marketing requires that copy is translated a little differently. Adapting content to other cultures is a specialty that goes well beyond straight translation. Success depends on factors such as market research, localization and transcreation.
Market Research in Translation
Market research assesses the characteristics of the target market, solves potential marketing problems, identifies opportunities and develops effective strategies. The most common way that organizations do this is with surveys. For global market research, these require translation.
Skilled translation agencies undertake this process regularly. Working with researchers, they help you determine who your target market is and the best way to word a survey in another language. In the case of businesses who are expanding their brand into several new foreign markets at once, this requires multiple translators. While it’s ambitious, many companies save time and money by simultaneously implementing a French translation, a Mandarin translation and so forth. This is also the time to undertake keyword research for your target language(s) – another task with which a translation company can help.
It is not enough to have a grammatically correct translation: it must also be culturally relevant. The style and tone should be appropriate to the target audience.
The localization process includes adapting items such as measurements, date formats, local slang and colloquialisms. It also involves assessing content that might be inappropriate for the target country. It’s not a good idea to insult your potential customers!
Once you’ve made your new audience feel like your website was created with their specific needs in mind, you’ll be well on your way to building trust and brand recognition.
Transcreation in Translating
Occasionally, when dealing with cultures that are very different than your own, localization needs to go further. You may need to create an entirely different marketing and branding campaign, because certain concepts, approaches, images and logos have negative connotations in other languages. The wrong type of headscarf in an image, or text relating to religion, sexuality or morals might not go down well in another country. Certain colors have different associations too, while puns, jokes and sarcasm don’t always translate well.
Converting your content without ostracizing your audience is achieved through transcreation. Your content might have to undergo significant changes. For example, the Clairol company launched a curling iron in Germany called the Mist Stick. Unfortunately, in German, “mist” is slang for manure. In cases like this, brands have to recreate names, logos, straplines and more to make their product appropriate for foreign markets. At such times, translation gives way to transcreation.
Translation, localization and transcreation can help to optimize a website ready for foreign markets. Only 20% of internet users speak English. As such, if you don’t take a global approach to marketing, you’re missing out on a huge source of potential revenue.