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A Beginner's Guide to Multilingual Marketing

19th September 2016
Reading Time
4 minutes

Brands are crossing borders and oceans, and with that come the challenges of multilingual marketing.

To succeed, you'll need access to in-depth market research to help build a robust marketing strategy.

Use cultural resources to make sure your messaging is hitting all the right notes, and don't skimp on translation.

Don't just develop a generic marketing pitch; be more dynamic with your multilingual marketing to really connect with your local audience.


Where should you start?

Good marketing starts with good research.

Break into new markets and become an influencer before anyone else has the chance.

Reaching out to a wider audience has its own challenges, especially if you haven't built up a local presence yet.

Here are some useful places to start building one up:

  • Official chambers of commerce and government websites are great places to start researching.
  • Check out local banks and investment groups.
  • Get a handle on local influencers and thought-leaders and start following them on Twitter.
  • Research local competitors who are also breaking into the market.
  • Join relevant and local Facebook and LinkedIn groups.
  • Attend a local business exhibition if you can.
  • If you can’t get there yourself, find an associate in the country who can pass on information to you.
  • Check out local marketing awards to see what is creating an industry buzz.

Which languages do you need to use?

  • Is the market mainly monolingual with different dialects or regional variants? Will these variants have an impact on any of your messaging? Do you need to factor in slang?
  • Are there any large ethnic or language minority groups you’ll need to cater for? (Do you need a Welsh site for your UK business/a Spanish site for your US business)?
  • Some countries are officially multilingual and you may need to provide a service in all official languages. (If you are targeting a region that is fully monolingual (like the Flemish/French regions of Belgium), this may not apply).

Even if a country has no official second language, there are places where a particular language has gained a large market share. It’s a good idea to include all necessary languages into your marketing strategy to avoid alienating key groups in your market.


    Using social media for global marketing

    Social media is a great way to engage with a global audience and gauge initial interest in your product or service, but it can also be quite overwhelming.

    Use advanced search functions to hunt out local business leaders and influencers.

    Send out questions about your target market, country, and audience.

    See what comes back, and record your findings.

    • Don’t trust a glorified social media picture without delving a little further yourself.
    • Some internationally oriented social media groups become places for expats to off-load, rather than productive places to do business: approach with caution.

    What you need to know about a multilingual websites

    A multilingual website is a labour of love, and there are lots of things to consider during the build (check out our recent blog post on what you should be asking your web developers about your multlingual website).


    International SEO isn't just about Google

    Now it’s time for some international SEO to get your page ranking.

    Other than optimising your on-site copy with keywords and using the right domain tags, you will also need to do some international link-building.

    Start out with regional press sites and newspapers for some high-authority local links.

    Remember: Google isn’t the only search engine around the world.

    You've got Baidu in China, Yandex in Russia, and Naver in South Korea.

    • Hire language experts to do your keyword research.
    • Don’t just verbatim translate PPC ads (this could result in some devastating faux pas): always use cross-market copywriting to ensure cultural coherence and relevance.
    • Avoid duplicate copy and clumsy redirects.

    It's the future of marketing  

    In a flexible and global market, digital marketing is a great vehicle for testing your products and services abroad.

    In a world of hyper-connectivity, your marketing strategy will need to follow suit.

    Marketing in a globalised marketplace can be challenging.

    Here at GWS Media, we can provide advice and help with your international digital marketing strategy.

    Tell us what challenges you foresee in taking your product abroad?

    Want to succeed online?

    GWS Media have over two decades of experience in all areas of online marketing work, from logo design and website design and development to copywriting, content marketing, SEO and email marketing. Contact us today for a chat about your project, and we'll be delighted to see if we can help.

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