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5 Translation Tips for Multilingual Marketing
One of the keys to inbound marketing is consideration for your audience. When marketing globally, take the opportunity to speak to current clients and potential customers in their own language. But remember that while translation of your materials can provide a better user experience, a poor translation is worse than not translating at all—and could damage your company’s reputation.
To make your website and other marketing materials accessible in multiple languages you will need to hire a reputable translation company. Here are five tips to keep in mind when planning your multilingual marketing.
1. Determine your translation needs
Translation at its most simple is directly converting words from one language to another.
Localization or adaptation is modifying your message for the target audience, taking into account the subtle cultural differences and nuances in the language.
When considering global marketing, look at your website and other materials and determine if you have messages that require localization or if you have more general information suitable for a straight translation. For materials such as internal communications, instruction manuals, legal text and forms, a translation will work.
2. Don’t let marketing get lost in translation
Marketing and advertising messages often use puns, expressions and plays on words that do not necessarily translate directly between languages. For marketing messages on your website, blogs, and advertising campaigns with clever themes and headlines, adaptation is required to ensure the message is conveyed correctly.
Translators specializing in language localization will not only need to have a good grasp of both languages, but a solid understanding of the culture as well. When choosing a translation company, ask if they specialize in adaptation or localization.
3. Remember SEO
When marketing globally, your website is your main storefront so remember to think about Search Engine Optimization (SEO) as part of the translation project. It is important to optimize your content for the keywords for which a global audience will be searching.
Here are some tips gleaned from a Q&A article about English and Spanish from our favourite SEO resource, MOZ.
- Use the <hreflang> tag to help search engines know which language the page is in.
- Don’t use accented characters in a URL.
- Don’t use accents in metadata.
- Just as in English, don’t stuff keywords.
- Leave time for proofing
When your website content is being adapted, be sure to plan time and allocate budget for feedback. This is because even though a company may be experienced with this form of translation, clients or colleagues working locally will likely have more experience with the regional nuances of the language and may have changes. You may also want to consider a company that employs in-market translators who are on the ground and understand these cultural differences.
- Request work samples
Ask a potential company for a client list and work samples in the languages you need. You can then evaluate their experience in your specific industry and see if the tone and manner of the work is appropriate for your target audience. Asking for references and speaking with their clients will also give you a good sense of how the company works and if they will be the right fit for you.
On a final note, I had a funny website translation experience in France. I went to a friend’s apartment for dinner and we decided to order sushi online. She had another friend staying with her who did not speak French so we clicked the English translation button on the website. While reading the menu we were puzzled by the “shrimp and lawyer”, “crab and lawyer”, and “tuna and lawyer”. My friend and I looked at each other— “Avocat!” we said and started to laugh. In French, the word “avocat” means both avocado and lawyer, and the site translation software was using the wrong word!
This article was written by Hoi Moon strategist and content creator Lynda Sydney
Julie Vetter is the Paris-based co-founder of Hoi Moon Marketing, an international collective of digital marketing talent. She leads the HubSpot User Group in France (iHugParis). The Hoi Moon team provides support and training for implementing inbound marketing using HubSpot, an inbound marketing software platform that helps companies attract visitors, convert leads, and close customers.
Julie Vetter en charge des formations inbound et de la coordination internationale