As a country at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean, and a significant distance from most of the world’s markets, New Zealand businesses frequently need to market their goods and services offshore.
We seem to start with the perceived “easy option” – namely Australia, because we figure they are the closest, not really that different to us (surely) and of course, they speak English.
Experience demonstrates that often Australia is not as easy as it might seem, at which point we tend to point our marketing dollars at Asia and in particular China with its many millions of inhabitants and potential consumers of our goods and services.
If your business happens to be in the tourism and hospitality space, attracting attention from potential visitors based in foreign lands is definitely high on the priority list. But despite the best efforts of RTOs and Tourism New Zealand, many business operators, particularly the smaller ones, are still left a little in the dark when it comes to successfully reaching those markets.
The art of “localised marketing” then comes to the fore and because there is no easy ‘out of the box’ solution to this challenge, it brings with it a complex array of options if you want to do it well.
Here are a few tips for those who want to start creating and promoting localised web content:
1) Keep it simple to start with.
Like anything, doing it well is better than doing it poorly, and not doing it at all is also better than doing it poorly. So pick one location, and one language to start crafting your content for.
2) Work out what information is most relevant to your chosen audience.
There is no point trying to get a quote for translation when you haven’t yet worked out what you want to say. For example, if you are a tourism business, think about whether this page might be used extensively by your staff to show guests when they arrive – working as an FAQ on your business. This works also for people who haven’t arrived in the country yet, so keep both stages of the visitor journey in mind.
3) Translate or transcreate?
Decide if you want word for word translation of your content, or “transcreation” – which means you provide the bullet points of what you want to get across, and a native speaking creative will turn it into marketing copy for you, in the chosen language.
4) Decide if you are going to work towards having a fully translated version of your website.
This is a commitment that requires ongoing maintenance, and also means you need to decide which language you want to translate the site into first, and if that will be followed by more languages.
5) Who’s doing the work?
Work out whether you are going to work with a specialist translation company to do your translation work, use machine translation or employ someone in-house. Option one is likely to be the most reliable, and also likely to be able to provide a high level of professionalism and the kind of results you are looking for. Option two is becoming more and more common, but is not always trustworthy – and after all, who are you going to get to check the machine’s work? Option three is ideal, but is likely to be out of the budget of many SMEs, and the reality is, employing a native speaker to do your front of house work is not the same as employing a native speaker who can write appropriate marketing content.
6) Use your existing data.
Check your Google Analytics account to see where your website traffic is coming from by location and by language. This will start to give you some idea of how to prioritise which languages to translate into. What you won’t be able to see however is the traffic that has not clicked on your website in search results because either it is not showing up high enough in their country of origin, or because the search result snippet they see isn’t translated (while others are). Or the customers who have come to you via other websites than your own.
7) Don’t forget about your SEO.
Make sure the translated/localised content on your website has been aimed at the correct country and/or language, and that you also get your meta-data translated appropriately.
8) Put a workflow in place so everything is consistent.
Starting with online advertising in the appropriate language, matching that to your translated content, then following through once your new contact/prospect gets in touch with your business – in their native language.
Can you read their emails and answer any questions? If they are going to stay at your accommodation or go on a trip with your business for example, will there be instructions in the appropriate language? Have you considered employing staff who can speak the language you have targeted? Are you aware of the payment methods they will prefer and is this an option on your website?
9) Put yourself in the customer’s shoes.
Imagine yourself in the position of your prospective customer or guest – a stranger arriving in a country where they might have little or no understanding of the native language. What things can you and your staff do to make things a little easier and more pleasant for them, with this insight in mind?
10) Look at your social media targeting.
Channels including Facebook now enable the targeting of countries and languages for individual posts. Explore how this works and test it out as part of your localisation strategy.