If you think it’s just the bigger companies that consider global marketing, think again. In the digital age that we find ourselves in, the minute a company goes online through its website or mobile app, it goes global.
While going global does not have to mean that you sell into every imaginable country in the world, it definitely means catering to the countries where a significant number of your customers live. So, while bigger companies may target 20 or 50 countries, you would be hard-pressed to find a company today that does not sell to at least two to three countries outside of their home market.
A lot of this has to do with the leveling powers of the internet. The internet has truly created a level playing field for businesses around the world today. Supporting services may not have reached the same level of maturity, but today, large swathes of populations across the world access the internet with relative ease, as compared to even a couple of years ago.
For this reason, global marketing is not the exception, but the rule for every company that has a global web presence.
An important aspect of global marketing is multilingual content, because English is not the lingua franca of the world. The 2014 report on Internet trends by Mary Meeker states that the number of Internet users is fast increasing in parts of the world where languages other than English are the primary languages. For instance, the number of Internet users in Africa went from 18 percent of the population in 2013 to 38 percent in 2014; in Asia it went from 23 percent to 37 percent; in South America from six percent to 17 percent; and in Europe from eight percent to 16 percent.
The road to multilingual content, and hence to global marketing, begins with translation.
The Newest Wave of Global Marketing Is Multi-Domestic
Modern international marketing considers the attributes of each “domestic” in-country audience. Successful global marketers have a pluralistic approach as opposed to a home-country-to-other-country strategy.
What this means when it boils down to content is that transcreation and localization, and not mere translation, is of utmost importance.
Such an approach has better chances of resonating with the target audience, than boilerplate marketing material imported from the headquarters country.
So, think again about what you need to be successful in the global arena: a global campaign with local variations, or many in-country campaigns?
Either way, it doesn’t mean that you let go of control over your brand messaging. On the contrary, if you use cloud-based enterprise localization software, it can actually help you centralize marketing and yet deliver locally relevant content.
The Biggest Mistakes to Avoid in Global Marketing
From our experience of helping companies go global, we can vouch for the importance of local market research and studying business practices before entering a new geography.
We provide here some check boxes that your company must tick in order to avoid the common mistakes of global marketing.
- Brand name evaluation. Your brand name is the knock on the door. Make sure it doesn’t embarrass, shock, or insult your target audience. Soviet car manufacturer, AvtoVAZ, sold models in the domestic market under the “Zhiguli” name, but had to change its name to “Lada” because the original name sounded like “gigolo” to its Western European customers. A brand name must also convey what your product stands for and doesn’t mean something irrelevant; else consumers may just pass it by.
- Numbers and colors. Companies in the West are used to pricing their products tantalizingly at $9.99, $19.99 and so on. But such a practice may backfire in Japan where the number 9 is associated with suffering. Similarly, red in many Asian countries has positive connotations, while it may evoke fear or signal danger to people in the West.
- Localization is in the details. The success of a marketing campaign abroad doesn’t merely rely on translation of content, but on whether the small things have been localized right. For example, is the product pricing in the local currency? Have you adopted the local standards for displaying date and units of measurement?
- International SEO. Three things matter in global search engine optimization: relevant keywords, human translation, and country-specific websites served up by local servers. Keywords in the source language may not resonate the same way when translated into the target language. Here’s where human, professional translators can help by providing their input on the right keywords in the local market. There’s one more important reason why you should use professional translators: Google views automated translation output as duplicate content, and thus, the search algorithm views it as lower quality content, not suitable for humans. Search engines also often prioritize websites that cater to a particular region or country for local searches. Smartling’s translation proxy tool, the Global Delivery Network, helps enterprises roll out in-language country-specific websites with high-quality and SEO-friendly translation.
- In-country review. Lastly, all your translated or transcreated content must be vetted by in-country reviewers, whether they be your bilingual employees or professional translators who speak the language natively. Again, translation software can make this step easier, by avoiding back and forth via email. Approved terms can be added to in-built translation glossary, so that a new discussion on the same term doesn’t start with the next translation project.
The Merging of Mobile Marketing and Global Marketing
Just as ‘global first’ is the norm these days, so is ‘mobile first.’ Mary Meeker’s report puts the number of smartphone users at 22% of the world’s population, or 1.6 billion people. The fastest growth in smartphone users comes from underpenetrated, multilingual markets like China, India, Brazil, and Indonesia.
But it’s not just the number of mobile-borne people that are increasing in these countries, but also their spending power. Mobile ad spend in China is likely going to hit $7 billion this year. Follow the money, as they say.
A significant section of mobile users in the non-Anglophone markets access the internet solely through their mobile device. So, there’s a whole new generation of people online, who have known internet only on the mobile.
Again, many of them speak languages other than English as their first language. But translation is important for another reason here: the mobile device is very personal. Hence, communication on mobile is seen as one-to-one, rather than many-to-one. Language, a key component of personalized marketing, becomes inevitable on mobile.
Global Marketing and Translation Go Together
The relationship between global marketing and translation is clear: there really can’t be the former without the latter. How can marketers best use translation to reach their global audiences? How can you avoid the common mistakes your peers are doing with translation? Read our Marketing Guide to Translation for answers.