Expanding your marketing campaigns internationally can be a great opportunity to grow your audience and brand. Outside your domestic region, however, are also opportunities for obstacles that could be catastrophic. Before taking the leap into international marketing, take into consideration a few essential points to help your campaigns succeed.
Translating The Language
First and foremost, never use Google Translate. While it might be useful for individuals, it leaves a lot to be desired professionally. Google Translate can’t convert the proverbs and idioms to get the point across precisely as you intend. Even just translating the keywords themselves causes problems, as terms and phrases used in one language aren’t necessarily comparable in another. Spelling variations and dialects are often overlooked by digital translators as well. The resources spent on hiring a human translator are invaluable, and can save your company a lot of hassle in the long run.
Before looking through resumes, however, do a bit of research on the literacy and languages of the area. Some countries include regions with different written and spoken languages. Other countries, such as Japan, have several written languages. Knowing these details could completely change your marketing strategy, yet neither type of translator is guaranteed to know this information.
Study The Culture
The obvious cultural aspects include taboos, superstitions and the above mentioned proverbs that vary by area. Also take time to research things like holidays, units of measurement, pricing expectations and how they write the date and time. Simply translating the words isn’t enough.
Remember to be aware of and adhere to the local advertising laws as well. In the US, there are many laws regarding ads targeting children or featuring alcohol, for instance. While these seem obvious to advertisers in the US, different cultures have advertising laws that may not be so intuitive.
Internet habits may differ in the new location as well. Some countries favor PC browsing, while others primarily use mobile devices. If your website isn’t optimized for both PC and mobile devices, you may miss out on a lot of traffic.
Tailor Your Website
Beyond the mobile vs. PC aspect, your website should be mindful of colors, fonts, images, and other formats and their meanings or implications. Redefining the user experience is critical when expanding to a brand new audience to ensure you company is making the right impression.
More than the user’s direct experience, though, is tailoring your website for search engines. If you have the resources, setting up country specific domains, or ccTLD’s, may be a great option to funnel the right audience to the proper pages. Using only one domain, however, can be just as successful using gTLD’s or subdomains in the URL.
Use Hreflang Tags
For optimal international SEO, you’ll want to employ the use of Hreflang tags in hyperlinks. Basically, Hreflang is HTML code used in links to help crawlers properly index the page. Search engines will use this information to bring the right version of your website to the user based on their language and area.
Hreflang is useful for ccTLD, gTLD and subdomains, but not on every search engine. For example, Google uses Hreflang, while Bing recognizes meta language tags instead. Using both will ensure the best results no matter what engine is used, anywhere in the world.
Any marketing campaign requires research and analyzation to be successful, and delving into international waters is no exception. Setting up a dedicated team to translate, research and optimize your efforts will give you the best start at international marketing.