8 Important Truths About Copywriting for International Audiences

Copywriting for international audiences is more complicated than you might think at first. Advertising and marketing copy depends on culturally and linguistically-specific factors to motivate the audience to act. For example, clever wordplay is challenging to translate, as is humour.

These factors can make it more difficult for international businesses to sell to customers on a global scale.  But it doesn’t have to be that way. Here are eight truths about copywriting for international audiences to increase your odds of success.

Copy is more appealing when it’s in your customers’ native language.

So, make sure your company’s content is available in that language. Yes, that sounds basic. However, since so many people around the world speak at least some English, you could be forgiven for thinking it’s okay to cut corners and write in English for your international audience.

However, research shows that people are more likely to buy products when product information is available in their native language, even if they speak English as well.

There’s no such thing as an “international audience.”

Instead, there are international audiences, plural. Each target market is its own audience requiring a custom approach.

Always be researching.

Research is the foundation of almost all successful marketing and advertising campaigns. However, you can’t assume that the research you did before you came up with your original campaign will carry over to new markets. Here are some sample questions to answer before you even begin:

  • Will your product appeal to the same age groups and personas?
  • Are the demographics the same?
  • Will customers in your new target market consume the same types of media?

Also, it’s essential to understand how your target customers talk. That means you need to know not just what language they speak, but what dialect? Do they speak formally or informally? What about slang? Read more

Hand Signals Around the World

Do you talk with your hands? Many people do. In fact, some researchers claim that up to 70% of human communication is accomplished through body language. Hand signals are a common type of nonverbal communication. But be careful when you’re travelling or addressing someone from another culture. Hand signals aren’t universal, and you might be saying something unintended or even offensive with yours.

For example, here are six common hand signals with different meanings around the world along with their different meanings.

 The “V for Victory” Sign

You’re more than likely familiar with the “V for Victory” sign, or the peace sign for those of you still stuck in the 60s.

This sign has a number of different possible meanings, depending on where you are and the direction your palm is facing. When your palm faces out, towards the person you’re addressing, this sign usually means “victory,” “peace” or the number two.

However, turn your palm in so that the back of your hand faces out to the observer, and you’re insulting people in the UK and several other countries, including:

  • Australia, where the gesture is called “the forks.”
  • Ireland,
  • New Zealand, and
  • South Africa.

In the United States, this version is much more innocuous. It’s how you sign the number 2 and the letter V in American Sign Language. As a result, it’s not uncommon for Americans to get mixed up. For example, in 1992, US President George H. W. Bush (in)famously “gave the forks” to a group of protesting Australian farmers. Apparently, he intended to flash the peace sign at them.

But wait, there’s more:

In Japan, China and Korea, people commonly flash the V-sign when they pose for happy photos, often instead of smiling.

In Vietnam, it means “Hello.”

Thumbs down for thumbs-up?

In some countries, the thumbs-up gesture is a sign of approval. However, in Australia, you’re inviting onlookers to “sit on it.”  They are unlikely to respond kindly to that invitation.

It’s also an insult in Bangladesh and in parts of the Middle East. Read more

5 Inspiring Transcreation Examples

How do brands large and small create advertising and marketing campaigns that work just as well in Japan as they do in the UK? When the audiences you’re addressing vary so widely, “one size fits all” marketing just won’t do. Transcreation is the process of recreating and adapting advertising and marketing messages to appeal to audiences around the world, taking into account linguistic and cultural differences.

Rather than duplicating the original content in another language, transcreation focuses on recreating the same emotional appeals and impact. In the process, content and imagery may be completely redone, from the ground up.

For more, see “What is Transcreation?” 

Curious about how it all works in the wild? Here are five transcreation examples to study and learn from:

How Red Bull stands out in Chinese shops

The success of Red Bull energy drinks is a testament to the power of marketing and advertising.  Think about it- it tastes like watered-down cough syrup. It has less caffeine than plain coffee. Why do people buy it?

Well, Red Bull’s advertising isn’t selling foul-tasting, caffeinated sugar water. It’s selling an image. Want to be the type of person that does extraordinary things? Want to be larger than life?  Buy a Red Bull- it gives you wings!

When it came time to expand into China, Red Bull made several adjustments to both the product and its packaging to ensure that the appeal of its original marketing didn’t get lost in translation.

For example, in China, Red Bull is not carbonated. And they offer a version of the beverage in red, gold and black can,  a colour scheme that signals, luck, wealth and good fortune to Chinese consumers. Read more

Shopify's Localisation Strategies

Shopify’s Localisation Strategies: How Translation and Localisation Fuel Growth

Shopify, a Canadian e-commerce company that helps small businesses and startups sell products online, was founded in 2004. The startup made waves almost instantly and grew 10x in three years. Now that it’s 2019, how have they kept up the momentum? Two words: international expansion. Let’s take a closer look at how Shopify’s localisation strategies are fuelling continued growth for the business.

Shopify’s localisation strategies: Rolling out the welcome mat for international merchants.

A significant amount of Shopify’s recent growth is due to international expansion, as is much of their projected future growth. For example, in their fourth-quarter and full year 2018 financial results, the company notes:

“Shopify’s investments in international expansion yielded a record percentage of new merchants on the Shopify platform in the fourth quarter from outside our core geographies.”

As Investor Place notes, expanding into these new markets is essential to the company’s continued survival, and localised content is key to making that happen:

Shopify recognizes the importance of international markets for expansion. With 70% of the largest e-commerce markets being non-English speaking, Shopify must localize its platform in each region it enters.

To that end, Shopify has been rolling out the welcome mat for merchants around the world. For example, in May of 2018, the company released a Beta version of Shopify in six languages: French, German, Japanese, Italian, Brazilian Portuguese and Spanish.

They’ve also expanded their Shopify Payments product to 11 countries: the U.S., Canada, United Kingdom, Australia, Ireland, New Zealand, Japan, Singapore, Hong Kong, Germany, and Spain. In Germany, Shopify customised the Payments system to accept local bank transfers. Read more

multilingual SEO in 2019

How to Win at Multilingual SEO in 2019

What if you threw a party and nobody came? That’s what it’s like to launch a new website when your customers can’t find you. And just because the Google gods have showered your English-language site with lots of organic traffic, that doesn’t mean that the foreign language versions will be equally blessed. Without a sound multilingual SEO strategy, translating your website is a waste of time.

Like SEO in general, multilingual SEO is a fast-moving discipline. Tactics that worked last year may not work this year. These 5 tips will show you how to win at multilingual SEO in 2019.

Multilingual SEO in 2019: Begin with in-depth keyword and market research

No matter what the language, in-depth keyword and market research is the foundation of a successful SEO strategy. You have to know what words people are actually using when they search in order to successfully target them.

That sounds straightforward enough, but here’s the bad news: you can’t just translate and reuse the keyword research you did when you set up your original site.  Each country is different, even if the people there technically speak the same language.

Consider the UK, the US and Australia.  All three countries speak English – but they won’t all search for the same products in the same way.

For example, an apartment in America is a flat in the UK and a unit in Australia.

Cater to all the relevant search engines

Google may have cornered the market on search in most of the world, but there are some exceptions. Research the different search engines available in the country you’re targeting, and find out how much market share each has.  For example, Yandex is slightly ahead of Google in Russia, and China is all about Baidu.

Since different search engines have different algorithms, it pays to get advice from someone who is familiar with ALL of the relevant search engines.

Cater to the user experience in each market you target.

For Google (as well as for most of the other SERPS), user experience is king.  For example,Erika Varangouli, International Digital Marketing Manager, told SearchLaboratory.com: 

“Almost every single Google algorithm update over the last five years has indicated that creating a solid user experience is at the top of Google’s agenda. Brands wanting to rank well (and stay there) will need to align their SEO and UX strategies together, ensuring that everything from landing pages to creative campaigns are designed to offer a five-star experience to users. ­”

To ensure a great user experience, your local language websites must be truly customised for each market. Everything from the visuals to the layout to currency and date displays must be localised. For example, you might recall that Hebrew and Arabic are read from right to left. Meanwhile, Japanese script is vertical. If you’re targeting these languages, you absolutely have to adjust your layout and design accordingly.

Quality content keeps searchers on the page.

Do users take one look at your website and hit the “Back” button? If so, your rankings will suffer. Keep them on the page with quality content. Poor-quality, error-ridden translations don’t promote the sort of user behaviour that Google expects. Quality translation (as well as transcreation when necessary) creates a quality user experience, and Google will take notice.

In fact, according to SearchEngineJournal.com,

Google algorithm updates in 2018 revealed that Google is intensifying its focus on evaluating content quality and at the depth and breadth of a website’s content, said Eric Enge, general manager of Perficient Digital.“We tracked the SEO performance of a number of different sites,” Enge said. “The sites that provided exceptional depth in quality content coverage literally soared in rankings throughout the year. Sites that were weaker in their content depth suffered in comparison.”

Multilingual SEO in 2019: Ignore voice search and mobile search at your peril.

Probably the most critical change that SEO industry experts expect in 2019 is that voice search will finally come into its own. That means you need to begin optimising your websites for it now, in all languages.  Research to understand and target any voice-specific search terms, and optimise for featured snippets, too. As Erika Varangouli advised on SearchLaboratory.com:

For the markets where Google is the dominant player, the number of search results returning featured snippets will also increase, as Google seeks to give users the best experience. Brands can take advantage of this trend by optimising their content for voice search but will need to start now as the landscape is about to get more competitive throughout 2019.

Meanwhile, it’s 2019, so if you don’t have a mobile SEO strategy, you need to get up to speed (especially if you target emerging markets where most internet users are mobile). For example, Jamie Alberico, SEO product owner at Arrow Electronics, told DeepCrawl.com:

“If you want to be international, you’d better be mobile first and mobile fast. In the United States, 41% of total web traffic comes from mobile devices. For Asian markets, that share jumps to over 65%. 4G isn’t worldwide and for many international users, there’s a real monetary value attached to every MB. Can you imagine having to pay $5 every time a site decided you really needed to see their hero image? These users need lightweight experiences that adapt.”

Don’t let your multilingual SEO strategy lose on a technicality.

As important as content optimisation is, it can’t replace careful attention to the more technical aspects of SEO. For example, consider how best to signal to Google that you have multilingual versions of the same site. According to Google, it’s best to use different URLs for different language versions instead of relying on geolocation. Also, make sure everything is marked appropriately and use hreflang  tags correctly. Use structured data markup whenever you can, too, since it’s more AI-friendly and Google is expected to begin relying on AI more and more.

With a task as complex as SEO, it’s always best to get professional advice. At K International, our team is available to answer all of your questions and to get your website optimised for all of the languages you do business in. Contact us for your next website translation project – we can’t wait to hear from you!

software localisation challenges

5 Common Software Localisation Challenges

These days, if the software you’re selling is in English only, your business is missing out, big-time. Software localisation is more challenging than it appears at first glance, but the potential rewards have never been bigger. Here are five common software localisation challenges and some strategies for solving them.

Software Localisation Challenge #1: Context and Accuracy

You already know accurate translation is essential to any successful software localisation project. Still, even the best translators can make mistakes, especially if they don’t have all of the information they need. One aspect of software localisation projects that often causes difficulty is lack of context.

Do you remember how, as a child, you learned to use context clues to decipher unfamiliar words?  Translators rely heavily on context to understand the meanings of the text they’re supposed to translate. However, in software localisation projects, translators often receive software strings in spreadsheet form.

They have the text to be translated, but not the context to make the meanings clear. Make sure you’re providing translators with the context they need. Additionally, this is one reason our translation management system, Tracklingua, has features like forums, commenting and online messaging to enhance communication.

Software Localisation Challenge #2: Inconsistency

Emerson may have called consistency “the hobgoblin of small minds,”  but he wasn’t talking about software localisation when he did so.  For localisation projects, consistency is important. Is it “Login” or “Log in?” “Next” or “Forward”?

Inconsistent translations are confusing. They undermine the user experience and they make your product look unprofessional. Fortunately, there’s a simple solution: by creating a terminology glossary and making use of translation memories, you’ll get more consistent translations and you won’t have to pay to have the same phrases translated twice.

Software Localisation Challenge #3: Display and Design Issues

One of the biggest headaches in software localisation is making sure translated content displays properly. When compared to English, some languages use more words or longer words for the same concepts.  On the other hand, some languages user fewer words or shorter words.

As a result, text can expand or contract during the translation process, sometimes quite drastically. Your carefully designed user interface elements may need to become wider or taller than you originally intended to accommodate the changes.

For example, here’s how text length typically changes when translated from English into some of the most common target languages:

  • English to Arabic: expands 25%.
  • English to Korean: text shrinks by 10-15%.
  • English to Spanish: text expands by  20-25%.
  • English to German: text expands by 10-35%.
  • English to French: text expands by 15-20%

Of course, languages that use non-Western scripts can be even trickier. They may also require more vertical space to display clearly, for example, or they may read left-to-right instead of right-to-left.

Internationalisation- An ounce of prevention

Fortunately, many of these problems can be prevented well before any material is sent off to the translators.  Internationalisation is the process of making your software easier to localise. Ideally, your team would incorporate the principles of internationalisation from the start.

For example, many problems can be avoided if menus and other UI elements are designed to easily accommodate text expansion and contraction, and programmed to expand or contract as needed along with the text.

Software Localisation Challenge #4: Formatting Issues

To make your software usable for customers in different regions, it’s not enough to simply translate the text. You must also account for differences in formatting, and conventions for writing dates, times, numbers, addresses and currency.

For example, let’s say the software in question was originally written for English speakers in America, and now you want to localise it for various European markets. All well and good, but do you think your European users will want to convert measurements from US standard to the metric system? Or will they want to fiddle with inputting dates with the month first, rather than the day?

Probably not. So, you’ll need to change your software accordingly, so that dates and measurements are shown in the expected format for your target market.

Software Localisation Challenge #5: Translation Speed and Continuous Localisation

Whether to fix bugs or to add new features, most software releases receive regular updates. Often, these updates involve elements that will need to be localised. This leads to a process of “continuous localisation,” with a myriad of small localisation changes required on an almost-constant basis.

To effectively manage these needs, look for a language services provider with the following characteristics:

  • The capacity to handle your requests with a fast turnaround.
  • The project management capability to keep everything on track without important details getting lost in the shuffle.
  • Translation technology that makes it simple to request updates as needed.

Most of these challenges are easily met with a bit of forethought on your part and some help from an experienced language services provider. Looking for help? Take a look at our software localisation services and contact us for more information.

 

Translation Options for Businesses

Crowdsourcing? Machine translation? A language services provider? Which translation option is the right choice for your business? If you need translation help and you’re not sure what your alternatives are, we’re here to help. Here’s a rundown of the pros and cons of each of the different translation options for businesses.

Asking  a Bilingual Employee

Hey, doesn’t Jim in Accounting speak Spanish? We can just have him translate this, right?  Right?

Wrong.  Asking a bilingual employee to translate seems like a simple, elegant solution- no need to hire anyone new or deal with another company, and it’s free.

Before you add translation work to your employees’ existing responsibilities, consider the following:

Translation is a specialised skill.

Doing it right requires native-level fluency and cultural awareness in the target language, and the writing skills to render the source text effectively. If the document in question is essential and you need the text to read well and the meaning to come through clearly, you need a professional translator.

Your employees’ energies could be better spent elsewhere.

Requiring an employee to translate for you means that you’re taking them away from their core duties. Can your business afford that? An employee who is not a professional translator may not be able to complete translation tasks effectively. Is that a good use of their salary?

Quality control is important.

Even trained translators make mistakes, which is why language services providers engage a separate translator to proofread.

Google Translate/ Machine Translation

It’s the elephant in the room- Why can’t you just use Google Translate? It’s fast, and it’s free, how can you beat that?

What with the way the press is always hyping up the latest translation gadgets and Google Translate updates, we’ll forgive you for thinking that machine translation is just as good as a human translator. But you would also be wrong, at least in a business context. Translation apps and Google Translate do have their place- they make it possible for travellers to communicate with their hosts, and they make it possible to get the gist of material in another language. Read more

Time Management and Punctuality Around the World

Cultural differences affect all areas of life: everything from what we eat, to what we wear, to how we speak to each other.  They also affect how we view time, deadlines and punctuality.  So, here’s a practical guide to time management and punctuality around the world.

Time Management and Punctuality In Spain and Latin America

The Spanish tradition of taking an afternoon siesta is slowly dying. However,  Spaniards still go to bed later than most other Europeans, with the midnight being the average bedtime.

Punctuality is somewhat flexible in Spain: it’s normal to run anywhere from 15 to 20 minutes late unless it’s a business meeting or a bullfight.  Deadlines are typically flexible, as well.

That said, while Spanish might not be strict about timetables and punctuality, they are more than willing to put in time at work -too willing, in many cases. In fact, there’s a word for that in Spanish: “presentismo.” Loosely translated as “presenteeism,” “Presentismo is spending hours more than you really need to at work in order to seem more serious and committed to your organisation,” according to the BBC.

Most of the countries in Latin America share Spain’s relaxed attitude to time, punctuality and deadlines. Despite the linguistic differences, that includes Brazil. In the rare instance when timeliness is essential, the Brazilians will say that it’s on “English time.”

Time Management and Punctuality In France

The French also have a somewhat relaxed attitude toward punctuality, unless there’s a meal involved. While you should do your best to be on time, there’s usually a ten-minute “grace period” for appointments before you’re “late.” However, for meals and social events, you’d better be on time.

Meanwhile, deadlines are usually negotiable, and decisions are not to be rushed. Read more

facts about welsh translation

6 Facts About Welsh Translation Organisations Need to Know

1 March was St. David’s Day in Wales. This day is the feast of St. David, the patron saint of Wales. However, it’s also traditionally a celebration of Welsh language and Welsh culture.  With that in mind, here are six facts about Welsh translation organisations need to know.

Over 700,000 Welsh speakers live in the United Kingdom.

Approximately 562,016 of them live in Wales – that’s about 19% of the Welsh population, according to the 2011 Census.  The Welsh-speaking community is concentrated in the north and the west of Wales, but fluent Welsh speakers live throughout the country.

Most Welsh speakers in Wales can also speak English.

That said, many of them are more comfortable communicating in Welsh. As a result of current language regulations, your organisation may be responsible for providing them with that opportunity.

The Welsh Language (Wales) Measure 2011 and the National Assembly for Wales (Official Languages) Act 2012 give the Welsh language official status within Wales.

Earlier measures, including the Welsh Language Act of 1993 and the Government of Wales Act 1998, required the public sector to treat Welsh and English equally whenever practical. The Welsh Language (Wales) Measure 2011 and the National Assembly for Wales (Official Languages) Act 2012:

  • Confirmed Welsh’s official status in Wales.
  • Added new requirements for public sector organisations to provide services in Welsh.
  • Requires some private sector businesses, like utility companies and telecoms, to provide “reasonable and proportionate”  access to services in Welsh.
  • Established enforcement mechanisms to protect the language, including creating a Welsh Language Tribunal and appointing a Welsh Language Commissioner.

All of these measures were passed as a response to centuries of Welsh language suppression. Welsh speakers couldn’t access official services in Welsh.  They couldn’t hold public office without becoming fluent in English. Students were beaten for speaking the language in school.

All of this resulted in four centuries worth of Welsh language decline. Fortunately, however, official recognition and compulsory Welsh education in schools have stabilised the language.

For more information, see The History of the Welsh Language.

In Wales, public sector organisations (as well as some private sector organisations) may need to provide a variety of services in Welsh to comply with the laws.

These can include:

  • Asking customers which language they prefer and recording their response to apply to future correspondence.
  • Answering the telephone in Welsh and English and ensuring that customers can communicate by phone in the language of their choice.
  • Posting signs in Welsh.
  • Making websites and digital correspondence available in Welsh.

Are you looking for Welsh translation services? Google Translate is not the answer.

Unless you’re having an informal conversation or you just want to get the “gist” of a document, Google Translate is always a poor choice.

Of course, it’s also free. And some organisations find the prospect of “free” Welsh translations too tempting to pass up.

Unfortunately, Google Translate is never 100% accurate and Welsh is not one of its strongest languages. As Welsh comedian Gary Slaymaker puts it, “Rather than pay for a living breathing Welsh translator they’ll put their translations through Google Translate and end up with word porridge.”

Slaymaker coined the word “Scymraeg”, for “scummy Welsh”, to describe these translation mishaps.  Speaking “Scymraeg” is not a good look for any organisation, and it could lead to extra expenses in the long run if your organisation is required to comply with Welsh language standards. So, it’s best to get it right the first time.

The Welsh language has some unusual features, especially when compared to English

For example, as with other Celtic languages, in Welsh, the first consonant of a word can change depending on the context.

As a result, it’s imperative that your organisation uses qualified Welsh translators even for seemingly simple tasks like signage. The Porthcawl Town Council just found that out the hard way. They recently added a sign that was supposed to read “Welcome to Porthcawl” in both English and Welsh. Sounds simple enough, right?

Wrong. The Welsh on the sign said “Croeso’r Porthcawl.” However, the correct translation would be “Croeso i Borthcawl,” with the “P” in “Porthcawl” turning into a B.  Predictably enough, a social media furore ensued. Everyone loves a good translation fail!

In this case, the Town Council would have had better luck even with Google Translate, which does return the correct translation for this particular phrase.

Again, that  doesn’t mean that Google Translate is an acceptable option! It merely shows the importance of choosing a qualified translation service.

K International has over 25 years of experience offering Welsh translation services in both the public and the private sector. All of our translators have at least three years worth of Welsh translation experience and must pass a rigorous quality exam before they begin translating for our clients.

For more information about our Welsh translation services or to get a quote on your next Welsh translation project, contact us today!

European languages that are not Indo-European

Six European Languages That Are Not Indo-European

What does English have in common with Hindi? To the confused English-speaking traveller in India, not much.  But the similarities are there, obvious enough if you look, in words that sound strikingly similar.  That’s because both languages are part of the Indo-European language family. In fact, most of Europe and many parts of Asia speak an Indo-European language.

Around the world, 3.2 billion people speak an Indo-European language. That’s nearly 42% of the global population, and it makes Indo-European the most commonly spoken language family. There are 445 living Indo-European languages.  Tribes who spoke Proto-Indo-European began spreading out through Asia and into Europe starting at around 4000 BCE. Their languages spread along with them.

However, not every European language is an Indo-European language. There are a few outliers, remanents of the cultures that existed before the Indo-European expansion.

Here are six European languages that are not part of the Indo-European language family.

European Languages That Are Not Indo-European: Finnish

Spoken in:  Finland and parts of Sweden
Number of Native Speakers: 5.4 million Read more