Go Beyond Translation: Localize Your Content Production

The inabilities of Google Translate and Babelfish to correctly translate statements in one language to another are well documented.
Inability to correctly translate Google and Babelfish translation platform in one language to another is well documented statement.

See what I mean? The preceding paragraph is the first sentence of this article translated to contemporary Chinese and back to English.

Despite Google Translate’s assurance that “by detecting patterns in documents that have already been translated by human translators, Google Translate can make intelligent guesses as to what an appropriate translation should be,” it frequently falls short. Some of these translations are quite funny, while others are just odd or mysterious.

Those are good for a laugh, but when it comes to something important like your SEM and branded copy, the misses aren’t acceptable. You’re trying to build inroads and boost sales in growing foreign markets, and mistranslated content could be catastrophic for your business.

If you offer a product that’s relevant overseas (with very few exceptions, you probably are) and you’re not devoting serious thought to making international SEM initiatives part of your plan in 2015, it’s never too late to start, and the rewards are plenty. Over the past two years, the business-to-consumer (B2C) e-commerce market has nearly doubled, increasing from about $300 billion in business to $525 billion, according to Marketing Interactive. Singapore alone is expected to take credit for about $2.99 billion of that.

Marketing Interactive anticipates that the overall international e-commerce B2C market to hit $1.77 trillion, up over 17 percent from 2014, with the Asia Pacific commanding the biggest piece of the pie at $680 billion. And that, according to Marketing Interactive, is an increase representing an expected down year.

While eMarketer states that the United States and Canada would lay claim to about one-third (the largest chunk) of all e-commerce B2C sales, a lot of people’s money is on Asia Pacific taking the lead soon. Just take a look at the number of digital buyers worldwide, according to eMarketer.

As Asian Pacific nations like China and India continue to grow their middle classes, those digital buyers will inevitably buy more online, and you want to be there when they do.

If you haven’t made major strides to position your brand in international online markets, it’s time. But do it right.

Don’t just rely on wonky translation programs that at best will separate your product from your carefully planned brand voice and message and at worst will confuse readers until they leave, seeking better content that entices them to spend. Investing in content written by native language speakers and specifically targeted to locals is the best way to go. That’s how you preserve your brand’s value as you create — or nurture — your international online presence.

A lot of content marketers assume doing it right entails hiring a good translator. In some cases, a good translator can repeat what you’ve written for a North American audience in a foreign language and assuage difficulties stemming from transposing idioms and the like. But even a good translator might not be the best problem solver when you consider one of the cornerstones of a good foreign content strategy: localization.

As foreign customer bases become more active in online marketplaces, they develop their own tastes, desires and demands of content marketing. Just because your strategy works for a U.S. market does not mean it’ll drive leads and purchases in a foreign market, and in some cases it might even drive foreign buyers away.

The very structure of your marketing copy on .jp may differ significantly than what you have on .com. For instance, Japanese audiences devour detail in their marketing copy — the more the better. Western audiences, on the other hand, prefer a more distilled, persuasive style with critical details front and center.

Here’s the best way to make sure your content is suited for and attractive to the correct audience: Hire a content solutions provider — whether that’s a freelancer or a company like eZdia — that’s either based in the region/nation you’re targeting or has access to writers and editors within it.

Your content will reflect the value of that culture — whether that’s frugality, value or flashiness — and meet its standards, which can mean brevity or heavy detail and the inclusion of local buzzwords.

Also, localizing your content internationally doesn’t necessarily apply only to languages other than English. It does mean a specific brand of English and a specific presentation of information that is not American.

We’ve all read copy written in English by an Indian writer and noticed that it typically doesn’t have the same effect as copy produced by an American writer. When you reverse those roles, you’d better believe that an Indian audience will notice the same issue. Throwing contractions into marketing copy might add a sense of positive casualness to American marketing copy, but the same can’t be said in Indian marketing.

When it comes to cost, working with a company that has solid access to local writers will likely save you a buck or two in the long run. Even though an Indian or Chinese writer will need to originate localized copy, the value their work will bring to your efforts there are high, and they will have different pay expectations than a U.S.-based translator who specializes in Chinese.

eZdia has access to writers all over the world, and soon it will provide copywriting services in 10 languages. For all 10 language services, the copy will be written by a native language speaker who understands the values, customs and habits of the target audience. If you’re headed overseas, we’ll make sure you don’t stand out in a bad way.

Contact us to know more about writing content in native languages

Originally published at www.ezdia.com on December 22, 2014.

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