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    Localize Your Content with these 7 Tips for Translating Marketing Materials

    by Leo Fornasari

    The global digital population is around 4 billion people, that's more than half the world's population within reach to businesses online. If your business sees an opportunity to target a bigger chunk of prospects, you're most likely considering expanding your business internationally. 

    One of the best ways of doing so is through Content Marketing, something 91% of B2B Marketers are already doing to reach customers. However, when globalizing your business, besides the proper market study and strategy, translating Marketing materials is a key element of this process that is often left as an after-thought. 

    Don't let bad translations and mixed up messaging ruin your expansion strategy! In this post, discover the 7 best practices for successfully adapting your Marketing materials for foreign markets.

    1. Clearly Define Your Audience

    You’ve spent valuable time and resources creating Marketing content for your current audience. Luckily, the hard part is done, because this content will serve as your base for expanding into new markets.

    However, you do need to conduct an audience re-assessment for your new market. The main questions you will be asking are:

    • Who are the new customers I want to reach?
    • What are their unique problems and needs?
    • Does my current content address those problems/needs or do I need to adapt it?

    Start creating Buyer Personas for your target market. A “buyer persona” is a semi-fictional representation of your ideal customer, created by using real customer data and educated insights.

    To create Buyer Personas, study these factors:

    • Demographics: Age range, location, gender
    • Background: Education level, income range, relationship and parental status
    • Motivations: Wants, needs, and concerns in general and towards your product/service
    • Solutions: How your business will resolve their motivations.

    You might find that your Buyer Personas are the same globally, that your customers are more or less uniform. However, you might find that some markets have a unique want or need that you must address in your content. Having a clearly defined audience will aid you in creating valuable, personalized, and appealing content.


    2. Build a Translation Team

    team for translating marketing materialsThe market that you want to break into may seem like a huge opportunity business-wise, but have you thought about how your current team will adapt to the new campaigns, content, and customers? The importance of building the right team can't be understated. 

    You need to determine if you already have team members that are aware of local trends and expressions, pop culture, news, cultural norms, and so on. If you don't have someone on your team like this, it is common to seek out a native-language copywriter or translator for this purpose. 

    The person you choose (whether hiring them in-house, as a freelancer, or through an agency partner), must be an expert writer and editor, but also understand and convey Marketing messages to achieve specific business objectives, adapted to the local language and norms. A simple translation from one language to another is not enough.

    Here are a few skills you'll want your content expert to possess:

    • In-depth understanding of the subject matter (your business, it's products/services, solutions, and key Marketing messages).
    • Adept at business writing, maintaining the tone, style, and jargon of your brand.
    • Creative and skilled enough to adapt text for the target audience, all while maintaining its original purpose and meaning. 


    3. Create a Style Guide

    As mentioned above, it’s important to maintain the essence of your Marketing messages when translating Marketing materials. However, it's also important to be creative, interesting, and "in line with the times" with your translated content. 

    That's why you should create a style guide for your brand. A style guide is a set of instructions about language use, formatting, tone, and industry-specific terminology for your brand. It helps people inside and outside your organization maintain consistency, improve communication, and achieve high-quality content. 

    Only 25% of businesses have formal branding guidelines that they enforce consistently, despite the fact that consistent branding produces 23% more annual revenue. Don't fall into this pattern with your business! Get started on your style guide, sometimes known as a brand book. 

    For example, in terms of tone, the style guide might recommend that the tone be informal vs. commercial. You should also include key "buzzwords" you want associated with your brand in line with SEO (more on that later). Finally, the style guide should provide concrete examples of how the guidelines are employed in the original content. This way, your content expert will have references to look back on, making it faster and easier for them to adapt content into the local language while staying consistent in style, terminology, and brand voice. 


    4. Adapt Visuals

    design can't be forgotten when translating marketing materialsAnother element to include in your style guide is all things visual. Consistent design for your brand (similar colors, look and feel, and overall presentation) can increase your revenue and recognition. Graphics and images go hand in hand with Marketing content and campaigns, so it's important to adapt them for international audiences. This may include blog post photos, email headers, infographics, etc. 

    Besides what your brand book dictates, make sure that you understand the local connotations behind gender roles, animals, colors, and numbers. Consider what type of pictures or expressions you are using that might be considered offensive in a specific country or culture, and replace them with “neutral” or localized versions. It's essential to use images that people can relate to, but also reinforce the message. 

    Having a team member with a deep connection or understanding of your target market can help you navigate these visual elements. 


    5. “Transcreate” Your Content

    You've already learned that it’s not enough to simply translate your Marketing materials into a new language and leave it at that; your content team needs to be able to convey Marketing messages to the target audience with the same intent and reasoning as the original content. 

    Figures of speech, idioms, cultural references, and jargon or acronyms can’t be translated literally to other languages; if so, it may change the meaning of your message and may confuse or even offend your audience.

    That's why we recommend moving beyond a literal translation to a more conceptual translation, and that’s what “transcreation” is all about. By transcreating your content, your target audience will interpret your messages as if they were originally written in their own language. There will be no hint that a translation was involved.

    To do this, it’s important that you brief your translation team on the direction each Marketing campaign should take. Key factors to include in your brief include:

    • The content background and context
    • The target audience and if possible, specific Buyer Personas
    • The stage of the Buyer's Journey associate with this content
    • The goal/objective of the Marketing campaign
    • The main focus, or the most important thing to share/show
    • Channels that will be used
    • Key selling arguments
    • The length and format of the content


    6. Decide Which Blog Posts to Translate

    SEO is the most important aspect when translating marketing materialsBlog posts are one of the most valuable content formats, so blogging forms an important piece of expanding your business's online presence in international markets. Blog posts show your knowledge or authority on a specific topic, and serve to attract and educate potential customers on your industry, products, and services. If you want to attract traffic to your blog in new markets, you need to properly adapt your current blog content.

    If you already have an extensive blog, the goal here isn't to translate each and every post you have and hope for the best. Instead, you must analyze your posts and divide them into 3 categories: 

    1. Direct translation: Blog posts that can be directly and easily translated into the target language without altering the message's core meaning. This could include posts that describe product features. 
    2. Re-write: Posts that need to be partially or fully rewritten, or have elements that must adapted for a local audience. For example, a post with statistics about one country would need to be edited with statistics relevant to the target market. 
    3. Exclude: These are blog posts that are not relevant to the new market and should not be translated at all, like a write-up about an event that took place in a certain country and would only interest customers in that area. 

    7. Perform Keyword Research & SEO

    In line with attracting traffic within your new market, you should already know that Search Engine Optimization and Keyword Research will make up a huge part of your content strategy. If you don't take this into account, your content may fail to serve its purpose and all the effort you spent entering a new market will have been a waste.  

    First of all, you need to understand the strategy of Pillar Pages and Topic Clusters, so that you can plan a series of interrelated content pieces to translate and optimize for SEO. Makes sure that your team knows the basics of SEO or that you have an expert SEO partner to help you in this task. 

    Secondly, you need to perform keyword research in your target language and country. An effective keyword that helped you rank highly on search engines in one region might not have a high traffic volume in other areas. Conversely, it might be too competitive to rank for. In addition, you will want to research keyword variations in the local language (your expert copywriter/translator can help you think of keyword ideas and variations). 


    If you're ready to attract more prospects to your business through expertly translated Marketing materials, use the best practices listed in this article to get started.

    Looking for a partner to take care content adaptation for you? mbudo has a team of expert content creators in English, Spanish, Portuguese, Russian, German, Italian, and French, that will understand your business objectives and transcreate your content for you. We make sure that your Marketing campaigns will successfully be launched in international markets while respecting your brand voice and identity.

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    Content Marketing

    Leo Fornasari

    Leo Fornasari

    Leo is a graduated student on Business Management collaborating with mbudo on Inbound content and campaigns. He learns more about Inbound each day by gaining more HubSpot certifications. Leo is passionate about different cultures and he prides himself on his language skills, which are important for foreign business relations.