Over the past 20 years, e-commerce sales have skyrocketed. And this unstoppable growth looks set to continue, with Bigcommerce predicting that worldwide B2C e-commerce revenues will reach $2 trillion in 2015. The message for businesses is clear – the internet offers brands huge opportunities to reach new markets and increase sales.
If you are expanding internationally online, multi-lingual digital content should be a central part of your strategy. Not only is it a powerful way to optimise your site for key terms but, if it’s done right, it can build brand advocacy and drive sales. So (in the likely case that you don’t have the resources to create unique content for each international audience), how do you create content that will resonate with a range of cultures?
Understand Your Audience
When it comes to creating content for international audiences, a deep understanding of each target culture is essential. From holidays to colloquialisms and colour connotations, a huge number of factors have the ability to alienate an overseas reader.
Our own regional differences are perhaps the most obvious example – for instance, someone from Scotland would know exactly what you meant if you used the word ‘piece’ in place of the word ‘sandwich’. A resident of Leicester, on the other hand, would probably be completely stumped.
International audiences will be just as complicated. Make sure you have an in-depth understanding of the types of topics and language that won’t resonate with them all. If you have the resources, culture profiling is recommended.
Seasonal References, Units of Measurement and More
During the summer months, it might feel perfectly natural to write a blog post that mentions days at the beach and ice cream. However, if any of your audiences are located in the southern hemisphere, they’ll more likely be dealing with snow and freezing temperatures, preventing your post from resonating with them.
Make sure to keep an eye out for seasonal references slipping in – and either update your post accordingly or publish it at a more appropriate time of year for a different market.
Other details to watch out for include preferred units of measurement (which often differ depending on the country) and monetary values.
Days of the week can also have different cultural connotations – for example, not every country has the weekend on Saturday and Sunday, so a reference such as ‘Can you believe it’s already Sunday? The weekends pass far too quickly’, could fall flat.
Get Your Keywords Right
Keywords are important – and not just because they’re good for SEO. Good keyword research means that your content will speak in the language of its audience, helping them to find it and making it more resonant.
Make sure you monitor local keywords, rather than just directly translating the keywords in your English-language content. You also need to remember that optimising for Google isn’t enough. Different international audiences utilise different search engines – for example in China there’s Baidu, whilst in Russia there’s Yandex.
Choose a Topic or Angle that People Across the World Will Care About
If your content is going to appeal to an audience, it needs to be on a topic that they’re interested in or can identify with – and in this case, that means finding a topic that people across the world will care about.
A good example is the Distance to Mars, an interactive piece that shows the user how long it would take to travel to Mars using pixels as a scale.
This piece of content achieved huge success across the web, with links from 364 root domains – many of which were international. Why? Because it demonstrates the mind-boggling size of space – something which is universally fascinating.
Get Content Professionally Translated by Local Subject Matter Experts
No matter how extensive your research, gaining a comprehensive understanding of local language differences, biases and assumptions, as well as legal issues, will be a tall order without the help of professional language translation services.
All of our translators are local subject matter experts – so they can advise you on topics or phrases to avoid, spot things that you might miss and make sure that you’re adhering to regional laws.
For more information about how we can help with all of the above, visit our website translation services page.
Creating multi-lingual digital content is a powerful way to optimise your site for key terms, drive sales and build brand advocacy. To find out more about how you can get it right, read our free eBook on the topic, ‘Digital Content Guide to International Business Expansion.’