Multilingual Digital Marketing
Content is king when it comes to reaching online audiences, but is that monarch multilingual? For more than fifty percent of Fortune 500 companies, the answer is yes (or sí or 是 or نعم فعلا) since these businesses use multilingual websites to expand their cross-cultural customer base.
In addition to company websites, digital advertising and email campaigns, as well as blog postings and social media, can be powerful avenues to spread the word—especially if the word appears in several languages. Yet before translating your company’s content from English (the language most commonly used online) into Arabic, Chinese, Russian, Spanish or Portuguese, it’s wise to consider your multilingual market, message, medium, and method.
As is the case with any successful marketing strategy, research is needed to determine what demographic is right for your business. Once you know who your target audience is and where they reside, you’ll need to do more research to find out what language they speak—and what language they read—so you can effectively approach them and keep them engaged.
Assuming your company has already created strong branding in its first language, it’s time to translate that core message into the native tongue of your target audience. Savvy branders won’t want to depend on automatic translations since these systems don’t account for nuance, context and linguistic variations such as colloquialisms, slang or abbreviations. It’s better to have a professional human translator and editor who understand your business on a universal level and your prospective audience on a local level in order to accurately adapt and convey your message in a way that integrates relevant cross-cultural references in a tone that appeals to target demographic.
While the core of your translations should be done by experts, there are content management systems that can help offset some of the workload. Joomla, Drupal and WordPress, for example, support multiple languages and offer tools such as translation memories, terminology databases and corporate glossaries to help streamline and manage consistency across multiple platforms.
Depending on what demographic you are targeting, your research will reveal which online method is likely to be most appreciated, whether it’s using picture-heavy platforms such as Pinterest to attract image-sharers in India or opting for YouTube-like outlets for Asia’s avid video-viewing public. After all, when it comes to multilingual content, it’s not just what you say but how you say it.
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