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Marketing Translation vs Marketing Localisation: Differences, Benefits, and Challenges

Global marketing efforts involve selling goods and services to consumers in multiple countries. However, before you’re in a position to persuade someone to purchase your product, you must first ensure that they can understand your marketing materials. This is where marketing translation and marketing localisation come in – but what exactly is the difference between the two?

In this article, we’ll discuss what marketing translation is, how it differs from marketing localisation, how each of them can benefit your business, and some of the challenges you may face along the way.

In this post:

What is marketing translation?

Marketing translation is, above all, a marketing activity. The goal of marketing translation is to adapt the content of your marketing materials – such as product descriptions, brochures, website copy, and so on – for a specific target market. In other words, it involves transferring marketing content from one language to another to persuade target consumers to buy your product or use your service.

Like with every process, many different methods can get the job done. Depending on the text, the context, the target market, the level of creativity required, and other factors, your marketing team may opt for direct translation, localisation, transadaptation, transcreation, or a combination of these methods. Sometimes, even machine translation can help speed up the process.

What is marketing localisation?

Marketing localisation, on the other hand, is a broader concept that goes beyond textual content and encompasses all aspects of adapting your marketing strategy to suit a specific target market.

The goal of marketing localisation is crafting a fully local customer experience. As a result, it includes marketing translation, but it also involves other aspects, such as:

  • Tailoring your marketing mix (price, product, place, promotion) to the local market
  • Adjusting your branding to reflect local culture and norms
  • Choosing the right digital channels for your target market
  • Building relationships with local influencers, media outlets, and other relevant stakeholders
  • Creating content in the local language (not just translating it)
  • Creating products specifically for the target market
  • Replacing images and illustrations with ones that are more relevant to the target culture
  • Changing the pricing structure to reflect local currency, purchasing power, and norms
  • Tailoring website design and functionality to the needs and preferences of the target market
  • Replacing website links with local ones
  • Partnering up with local companies, associations, and other relevant organisations
  • Setting up local social media accounts

And more. Marketing localisation is a complex process that requires in-depth knowledge of the target market, as well as careful planning and execution. The good news is that it can be extremely beneficial for your business, as we’ll discuss below.

Where does transcreation fit in?

Transcreation is a linguistic technique. It’s a combination of translation and creative copywriting, and it’s common in marketing and advertising, as well as in other contexts where creativity, style, and emotional impact are important.

Like any other linguistic technique, you can apply transcreation to marketing content. This involves adapting the content not only to the target language but also to the target culture, making sure that it resonates with the target audience and achieves the desired effect.

Transcreation for marketing purposes often includes:

  • Rewriting parts of the text to make it more persuasive, impactful, or interesting – these could be headlines, taglines, calls to action, and so on
  • Rewriting whole sections or even the entire text to make it more relevant to the target market
  • Coming up with new lyrics for ad jingles, or new slogans for a campaign
  • And more

Why you should work with marketing translation professionals

Marketing translation and marketing localisation are complex processes that require specialist knowledge and skills. As we’ve seen, they go beyond simple linguistic transfer and encompass a wide range of disciplines, including marketing, copywriting, SEO, web design, and more.

Moreover, poor translation of marketing copy can result in a waste of resources and damage a brand’s image within the target market. In some cases, it can even lead to legal trouble.

Experienced marketing translators and copywriters have the linguistic skills required to produce high-quality translations and in-depth knowledge of marketing, advertising, and other relevant disciplines. They understand the challenges in transferring marketing content from one language to another and are familiar with the different methods that can achieve the desired effect in the target language.

Marketing translation and marketing localisation KPIs

Even if you work with the best marketing translators, it’s important to have a way to measure the results of your marketing translation and localisation efforts. That’s where KPIs come in.

Key performance indicators (KPIs) are measurable values that help you track progress and assess the success of your marketing translation project. They can be related to any aspect of the process, from the quality of the translations to the engagement of the target audience.

Some common marketing translation KPIs include:

  • Number of enquiries/sales generated by the translated marketing materials
  • Cost per enquiry/sale
  • Website traffic from the target market
  • Downloads/views of translated marketing materials
  • Engagement rates on social media (likes, comments, shares)
  • Number of new customers in the target market

These are just a few examples. The KPIs you choose for your marketing translation project will depend on your specific goals and objectives.

Common marketing localisation challenges

As we’ve seen, marketing localisation is a complex process that requires specialist knowledge and skills. But even if you have all the right expertise on your team, a few challenges can still trip you up. Let’s take a look at some of the most common ones.

Understanding the target market

A key part of successful marketing localisation is understanding the target market. This includes everything from the way they think and feel about your product or service to the preferred channels for consuming your content.

Without a good understanding of the target market, it will be difficult to produce marketing materials that resonate with them. As a result, your localisation efforts are likely to fall flat. To avoid this, make sure to do your research before starting the project. This includes conducting market studies, surveys, focus groups, and onboarding target-market experts.

Budgeting correctly

Another common challenge in marketing localisation is budgeting. Because marketing localisation projects can be complex and involve many different disciplines, they can quickly become expensive.

To avoid overspending, clearly understanding the project scope from the outset is important. This includes the number of target markets, the types of materials that need to be localised, the channels you’ll use, and the timeline for the project.

It’s also important to remember that marketing localisation is an ongoing process. Even after your initial materials are translated and launched in the target market, you’ll need to continue monitoring and adapting them to keep up with changes in the market. This means that your budget should also allow for ongoing maintenance and updates.

Keeping a consistent brand voice

Another challenge in marketing localisation is maintaining a consistent brand voice across all your materials and markets. This can be difficult when you’re dealing with different cultures, languages, and communication styles. You want to make sure that your brand comes across as local and relatable, without losing the essence of what makes it unique.

To achieve this, start by creating detailed brand guidelines that include a description of your brand voice. Then, make sure to communicate these guidelines to everyone involved in the localisation process. This includes translators, copywriters, designers, and anyone else who will be working on the project.

The impact of SEO on marketing translation

Search engine optimisation (SEO) is another important consideration in marketing localisation. After all, what’s the point of translating your website or creating target-market specific content if no one can find it?

Multilingual SEO can be complex, but you can do a few key things to make sure your translated content is visible in the target market. This includes researching keyword phrases, using the right title tags and meta descriptions, and creating original content for local search engines.

Setting up the right tools and processes

Finally, it’s important to have the right tools and processes to support your marketing localisation efforts. This includes everything from translation management systems (TMS) and style guides to glossaries and review processes. Having the right infrastructure in place will make it easier to manage your translations and ensure a high level of quality. It will also help you avoid common mistakes, such as working off outdated versions of your materials or using the wrong terminology.

Moreover, the processes you put in place are just as important as the tools you use. Make sure to document everything, from who is responsible for what to how stakeholders can provide feedback on translations. This will help ensure a smooth and efficient workflow.

Automation can also play a role in simplifying your process. For example, you can get rid of manual work by using a translation management system (TMS) to automate repetitive tasks, such as assigning projects to translators or sending out reminders for reviews.

Coordination of international teams

Lastly, don’t underestimate the importance of coordination when working with international teams. This includes everything from setting clear deadlines to ensuring everyone is on the same page about the project goals. A lack of local understanding of a global marketing campaign’s objectives or strategy can easily lead to big delays or costly errors.

It can be helpful to appoint a project manager who is solely responsible for coordinating the localisation efforts. This will help ensure that everyone is aware of their deadlines and deliverables and that the project stays on track.

Getting started with marketing localisation

Marketing localisation is a complex process, but it’s essential to doing business in today’s global marketplace. Following the tips in this article can set your company up for success. You don’t need to do everything at once, but it’s important to start taking informed steps towards building a global brand.

Creating detailed brand guidelines, communicating with your team, and setting up the right tools and processes are all keys to success. A smart approach to SEO, clear project coordination, and a focus on quality will also help ensure that your localisation efforts are successful.

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