There’s no doubt that the changing digital landscape has impacted the way businesses communicate with their customers, from direct social media engagement to targeted advertising. The introduction of new communication technologies has enabled organisations to communicate with global audiences quickly and more cost effectively than ever before. However, advances in communication technology has impacted on consumer expectations. Collectively we have become a generation of information junkies, expecting to obtain up-to-date, relevant, localised content in real-time – whenever we please.

Ten years ago, the web was static and centrally managed, with a one-way flow of information. Marketing spend was focused on traditional media, with websites managed centrally by IT departments. Today’s dynamic web offers unprecedented reach for marketers, providing access to consumers anywhere, anytime. It has become an interactive, collaborative dialogue where brands are publishers, and consumers are in control.

This change in consumer behaviour has meant that organisations need to focus on more than simply translating websites word-for-word. When localising a company’s website, culture and context needs to be taken into consideration. With this in mind it’s imperative marketing teams choose the right approach for translating their websites and localising content.

An organisation’s global position and readiness to enter new markets will help to determine the most effective localisation strategy. For larger organisations, with feet on the ground in more than two or three markets, the centralised hub and spoke model is a viable approach. This would help organisations manage global brand messaging.

The role of the hub team will not only be to provide translated content but make suggestions on how the content should be used, amplified and what has worked well in other markets. The team will be responsible for regularly collating feedback from local markets and updating/streamlining the process. This will help to ensure all markets have what they need to deliver personalised content in real-time in conjunction with evergreen content such as product/solution/services pages.

Smaller organisations, looking to enter into to new markets for the first time, will most likely not have the capital or resource to set up an internal hub to deal with translation and localisation. However, by outsourcing website operations, smaller marketing teams can rely on experts to completely manage, host and localise websites.

When looking at the translation process itself, it’s important to decipher the emotiveness of the content and the amount that needs to be created. For example landing/homepages of websites, emails and marketing content need to be personalised; therefore taking an original copywriting approach is likely to work best. Content such as product specification sheets and support pages are lower down on the emotive scale, therefore straight translation is the most cost effective option.

Other approaches include localisation, the process of adapting a product or service to a particular language, culture, and desired local look-and-feel. Or transcreate which involves adapting a message from one language to another, while maintaining its intent, style, tone and context. Deciding which strategy to take is best demonstrated in the graphic below.

 

So where to start?

Before looking into hub and spoke models, outsourcing and MT vs original copywriting, marketers must base their strategy on research. Marketers can then begin by researching into new markets to understand the brand’s current position and how it’s perceived. Competitor research will also help establish a set of robust keywords to build content around.

It is also important to set goals for the content, create a content plan, editorial calendar and outline the social elements that will support the overall campaign ensuring that each of these elements are defined and optimised across all target markets.

 

By Ian Brooks, Digital Strategist at Lionbridge. 


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