How to localise your marketing language - Into23


How to localise your marketing language

Marketing language is crucial to business success, no matter what sector or location you work in. But with more than a dozen types of marketing strategies to deploy to meet your goals, including brand awareness, influencer, video, SEO, email and public relations campaigns, picking the right one to achieve your business objectives is a fine art. And on top of that, you have cultural and linguistic challenges to contend with when marketing across borders. 

Successful marketing campaigns share several determining characteristics: clearly defined goals, the right platform and engaging content. But what constitutes the optimal platform and engaging content varies according to cultural and linguistic differences.

What is localisation?

This is where localisation, the process of adapting content to look and feel right in another culture, comes in. The end result is content that aligns with local sensibilities and is sensitive to cultural idiosyncrasies. But why go to all that trouble? Quite simply, nine out of 10 global users will ignore a product or service if it’s not in their native language, Nimdzi data show.

When localisation goes right, the rewards can be huge, especially if you’re venturing into a large market like mainland China, home to some 782.4 million online shoppers alone. But when it goes wrong, not only are resources wasted, but reputations can be shredded. For example, Italian fashion house Dolce & Gabbana, launched three videos in November 2018 on Chinese social media to market its upcoming runway show. The clips feature models clumsily attempting to eat Italian food like pizza and spaghetti with chopsticks. This was seen by many Chinese consumers as insulting, with the backlash resulting in a canceled show and dismal sales results. This ruined the firm’s China marketing strategy. Therefore, entering China market requires the help of an expert localisation partner.

Dolce & Gabbana’s confusing chopsticks campaign was perceived as insulting in China

So, how do you deploy localisation in your marketing language to maximum effect, and avoid the pitfalls? Read on for Into23’s expert tips on optimally engaging across cultures.

Localisation best practice

Seek expert local knowledge

The long list of marketing localisation bloopers that has been reported can be partly attributed to companies failing to enlist the help of an expert and highly experienced localisation partner, not just in the target marketing language spoken, but also its prevalent cultural nuances. Skimping on this element may seem like a cost-effective strategy, but the risk is that the campaign will fall flat, wasting resources, or worse, it could elicit a public backlash, which would require time and money to fix. Many firms outsource this element, especially if they don’t have an established, on-the-ground team in the target market. For example, outsourcing is a great option if you don’t have a China branch office.

Outsourcing marketing campaign localisation has grown in popularity over the past couple of years, partly because of travel restrictions, but also to minimise the risks involved in the process. Rather than hiring local talent, companies can access expert help that can be scaled up or down fairly quickly. 

Open up the creative process

Localisation experts are creative talents. Not only are they adept at executing a marketing campaign, they are also wizards at creatively adapting the marketing goals and tactics to appeal to local audiences. In short, they see the big picture and the tiny details. This creative process is most effective when the client’s marketing team are open to creative input. A collegial, open and collaborative working relationship yields the best localisation results. 

Competitor analysis 

While marketers often conduct a competitor analysis in their home market to uncover where rivals are missing a beat, there’s a strong case for extending the analysis to cover all markets that a campaign will be rolled out in. The rationale is the same. When consumers are considering which product or service to make use of, they compare similar offerings. This comparative range is often very different in each market. For example, if you’re a fried chicken fast-food chain looking to tap the Philippines, your main competitor would be Jollibee, not KFC.  

Tapping into the Philippines fried chicken market? Your main competitor is Jollibee, not KFC

Test, test, test

The aforementioned marketing localisation bloopers could have easily been prevented though the use of localisation testing. For example, it’s far more efficient to engage a focus group and test a marketing campaign content and language before rolling it out. If HSBC Bank had deployed this tactic, its marketers would have probably discovered that the quality translation of its slogan “Assume Nothing” into “Do Nothing” in 2009 wouldn’t elicit much engagement. Look for a localisation partner that offers multimedia localisation services. Not only that, but look for a partner with experience in your niche. For example, if you’re a crypto company, look for crypto currency and blockchain localization services. Moreover, make sure the company can also cover linguistic testing and localization services.

HSBC could’ve avoided its ‘Do Nothing’ campaign through localisation testing

Audit results

Marketing return on investment (ROI) is the ultimate key performance indicator (KPI) for campaigns. It’s what measures success (or failure). Auditing the results of localisation can serve two purposes. Firstly, it will show what’s working and what’s not, which enables marketers to rejig campaigns for maximum effect. The results are also useful for guiding future localisation efforts. Second, these metrics justify the resources expended on cross-border marketing campaigns. The latter point is especially useful if senior management aren’t convinced of the efficacy of assigning marketing resources to localisation. A detailed audit will identify areas that should be avoided, or areas that could be most efficiently expanded. For example, if you’re a US-based company that goes all out on a WeChat campaign to tap mainland China’s legions of consumers, then an audit would identify what content and messages worked. 

Metrics to include in an audit are the number of newly acquired customers in the target market, and conversion rate, the size of the increase in traffic, and any changes to market share and ROI.

Deploy full brand localisation

Finally, rather than just localising a marketing campaign, it’s well worth considering localising the whole brand. A localised marketing campaign for a product or service from a non-localised brand is asking a lot of consumers. Essentially, you’d be marketing to people with no association to your brand. Therefore, earning trust, either for your brand as a reputable company or the product, would be much harder. Having an established localised brand lays the groundwork. You may have a great China-focused marketing language, but if your target consumers don’t know your brand, it might not work. Any comprehensive China entry strategy would include full brand localisation.

An expert and highly experienced translation and localization team will suggest options that work in your target markets, and act as an extension of your marketing team, working hand-in-hand to produce content that resonates. 

To explore your marketing localisation options, get in touch with Into23’s team of highly experienced advertising transcreation and creative translation specialists. 

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