6 Tips for Translating Global Marketing Content

marketing translation services

Marketing materials are their own special breed of content. While translating marketing materials doesn’t have the pressure and complexity that comes with legal translations or technical language, there are unique considerations to address that don’t arise with other types of translation projects.

Launching a marketing campaign in a new language doesn’t mean starting from scratch, but you do need to bring a fresh approach to an existing campaign. What colors, images, names, or slogans will resonate with the new audience? How can you convey your intended message without losing its meaning? What examples should be used? Can we use all the content? Do we need to modify the content in the new language?

Selecting a translation services provider with experience managing marketing translations is the best way to ensure accurate and culturally relevant translations.

To get you started, we’ve rounded up 6 marketing translation best practices for you to consider.

What is Marketing Translation?

Translation of marketing documents and content, like websites and videos, takes marketing materials in one language and recreates them in another. Since marketing relies on cultural nuances to create a connection with its intended audience, marketing translation services are often not a direct translation but a process that involves localization and a bit of creation, known as transcreation.

Why Translate Marketing Campaigns?

In our globalized, digital world, it’s easier than ever for brands to expand their audience beyond country borders. But audiences across the world don’t necessarily speak English or prefer it as their advertising language. Thus, translated marketing materials are key to success on an international scale. And nowadays, it’s not optional to use your audience’s native language; it is a crucial strategy for success. 75% of consumers are more likely to purchase something if the information is in their native language.

But translating marketing materials can be crafty. For example, ads must be short, memorable, and have an emotional resonance with the audience. This category is challenging because you need to find which specific images or phrases stir emotion in the new audience in the new language, and those are often culturally specific. These changes over cultural lines are the reason marketing materials are rarely translated word for word and instead undergo their own creation process of transcreation.

Before Translating Marketing Materials

A well-executed marketing campaign requires planning, which also holds true for a translated marketing campaign. Before you start the translation process, there are a few steps to take first.

Determine Your Audience

Selecting the audience will help determine the languages needed for your marketing translation project.

How broad or narrow is your new public? Who is the consumer of your translated content? Is it global, national, or regional? What potential consumer makes sense for your products and services? What languages do you need? Your audience size and your budget will determine your target languages. For instance, is a generic Spanish translation enough for your goals, or do you need to localize to Mexican Spanish or Spanish for Spain? While a global translation may save money in the short term, consider the long-term impact on the target audience. A localized translation may cost more upfront, but it’s the cost of the opportunity to capture the intended audience.

There are many differences in the usage of words, their meaning, and spelling if you are doing a Portuguese translation for Brazil or if you are doing a Portuguese translation for Portugal. So the local or target audience where your Portuguese translation is going to be used is consequential.

Analyze Your Marketing Content

It is necessary to make an inventory of the content that needs translation and revise if your content is ready for translation or needs adjustment before embarking on translation services. It is also important to establish bilingual glossaries and a style guide for the translation project during this analysis. Determine if you are going to have support for an in-country review of the translated content and discuss goals, timelines, and priorities for the project.

While your team can analyze the marketing content, it’s best to bring in a third party with a fresh and experienced viewpoint, a partner like a professional translation agency. These in-market experts will review the existing marketing materials and campaigns and identify elements that won’t resonate with the new audience. These may include images, metaphors, phrases, or even colors. Starting with this step can help you determine how much of your campaign needs to change to echo with your target audience.

A professional translation agency will also have important feedback on the end design of the campaign, thinking through issues like text expansion in translation. This analysis is done in conjunction with your existing marketing team to ensure brand alignment in the final product.

Additionally, if a multilingual website is needed and the scope of your marketing project includes website translation, special analysis, and consideration will be needed, including technical and linguistic aspects. The linguistic work of a website translation project is only the tip of the iceberg. Taking time to select the best workflow and technology will be part of the planning phase.

6 Best Practices for Translating Marketing Materials

1. Localization is Key

Localizing is essential for all translation services projects; your marketing materials might fall flat without localization. It is vital for the translation company to know your audience to localize the content properly. Linguistic systems vary between countries and between countries that have the same language also, so it’s important to ensure you’re using language that resonates with your audience. Localization extends beyond words into abbreviations, idioms, numerical and measuring systems too.

Does your audience use a period or a comma to denote tens and thousands? What numbers are lucky or unlucky? 13 is perceived as unlucky in Western cultures, while four is unlucky in China. Colors can also be culturally specific and should be modified accordingly. In Western culture, white is associated with peace and purity, but in some Asian cultures, white is the color of mourning and misfortune.

Localization is also important within a language. UK English is different than US English in the usage of words and spelling. For example, the spelling of the word localization is:

English – UK Localisation
English -USA Localization

2. Be Mindful of Humor

Humor isn’t global. In fact, it may not even be the same within a large country. What’s funny in one language may be offensive in another, so it’s important to understand the cultures and humor styles of the languages you’re translating into.

This extends to puns and idioms as well. While common in marketing copy, these turn-of-phrases are highly culturally and geographically specific and unlikely to translate well. For instance, the English idiom “raining cats and dogs” has a Spanish version “ Está lloviendo a cántaros” o “está cayendo un aguacero” both meaning it’s really coming down but nothing to do with cats and dogs….

Detect these elements and areas of potential issues during the translation process. Just recently, we found the name of a company used in an “acrostic” — and the letter used on the acrostic in English will not always match the translation of the phrases. We had to warn the client and explain that transcreation would be used for that part of the translation.

Reviewing the source or English content to resolve issues before the translation phase starts is vital.

3. Translate Videos and Imagery

Marketing materials aren’t just print ads or billboards. Image captions, alternative text, infographics, and video captions must be both translated and localized. In addition to being a good marketing strategy, video translation services give you captions for video content, which is an accessibility best practice to allow your content to reach a wider audience, including the deaf and hard-of-hearing community. In addition to multilingual subtitles, multilingual voice-over is another way to make your video multilingual.

You can use subtitles for multilingual SEO and voice-over to facilitate the comprehension of the video in the new language.

4. Understand the impact of translation services on the design and usage of space

It’s common for text to expand or contract during translation, meaning that the final piece’s layout may look different from the original and will need adjustments. This holds true for both digital and print pieces, from website to brochure translations.

It is a good practice to design from the beginning with enough white space to allow for expansion and review the translated content to adjust its design or typesetting. That is one of the benefits of working with a translation agency that has a team of multilingual designers and typesetters to manage the multilingual DTP on the projects.

It is helpful to know that a website or a brochure will be translated to consider that in the designing phase of the piece. But that is not often the case, and multilingual DTP and the final correction after adjustment are necessary steps in a translation project to avoid issues on the final language piece. I have seen packaging that mixes languages due to the fact that the packaging was not revised by a linguist after typesetting.

5. Be Concise and mindful of Slogans

When you are writing marketing content that is going to be translated, the copywriter should use simple sentences and avoid double-meaning or cultural references.

Brevity may be a standard marketing best practice that saves time during the translation process. Review your slogans and tag lines so they are relevant and proper for your international campaigns. These are often culturally specific and won’t translate well.

6. Don’t Forget about International SEO

In the same way, that you create an SEO campaign for the primary intended market, new markets will require the study of the relevant keywords and search style of the new target audience.

Did you know that search engine patterns change by country? Did you know that the translation of a term might have 3 different options, and you might need to use all of them? Digital marketing requires translation and updates to reach an international audience. When enlisting website translation services or targeting blogs to a particular language, you need to conduct keyword research in the appropriate language, not just in the source language. The same blog may reach two audiences in different countries, with the same language and using 2 different keywords.

For example, we have the keyword “legal translation” in the translation industry. If we were working on Spanish translation Services and doing keyword research in Spanish, we would find 2 terms for the English keyword: “Traducción jurídica” y “Traducción legal”. According to the information found, it makes sense to use both terms since they are close in searches within Mexico.

Traducción jurídica – has 90 searches per month in Mexico and 600 Globally

Traducción legal – has 70 searches in Mexico and 300 at a Global Level


Experienced Translation Company

You need a lot more than knowledge of two languages to translate marketing materials for an international audience or provide professional website translation services. JR Language is a professional translation company with the experience, human resources, and technology to partner with and support your company in the journey of translating marketing content. Your company will have a team of project managers, localization engineers, designers, linguists, and professional translators that understand more than the target and source language, with field expertise in marketing, years of working with international audiences, and deep understanding of the cultural nuances that are key to a multilingual marketing campaign’s success.

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