Does Your Local Business Need a Multilingual Marketing Strategy?

08.11.2022 Sara Brasfield2 min

Many local businesses—and most U.S.-based businesses of any size, for that matter—default to marketing strategies and messaging that speak to native and/or fluent English speakers. For the vast majority of businesses, this is the most cost-effective and engaging approach to creating content that succeeds in driving conversions and revenue for the brand.

But not all local consumers are native English speakers. And, as your business grows, some of your target consumers may not even be based in the United States.

Consider the local packaged foods brand offering a new spin on classic Chinese favorites, or a local apparel company that finds itself taking orders from consumers based in Europe. In each of these scenarios, a new target consumer base has emerged that may be better served by messaging and content delivered in their native language, and in alignment with their unique cultural context. If your local business wants to strengthen its engagement and market share among these audiences, it might be time to develop a multilingual marketing strategy.

But how, exactly, do you build a multilingual marketing strategy from scratch? Read on for tips to improve your brand’s engagement with a new, promising customer base.

Accept That Translation Alone Isn’t Enough

The first mistake many brands make in multilingual marketing is assuming that translation is all your content needs. The truth is that many brands have suffered embarrassing errors and reputational damage due to translations that missed the mark. Take, for example, the Coca-Cola brand name, which was sometimes translated to “Bite the Wax Tadpole” when it first entered the Chinese market.

Translation is important in any multilingual strategy, but it needs to be paired with localization efforts that understand the cultural context of the target audience. This ensures that embarrassing translation accidents don’t happen, creating a public relations mess that may have the power to offend your would-be customers.

Collaborate With Multilingual Voice Actors, Writers, and Creators

It’s common for multilingual content to struggle with authenticity among native speakers of a language the brand has never utilized before. Some consumers may be wary of being targeted by new brands, while others may notice small inconsistencies with your content’s localization and/or messaging.

One easy solution? Enlist the help of multilingual creators who speak your target language natively or fluently—and who also understand the cultural context where your marketing is being deployed. The more familiar your creators are with these target communities, the better they’ll be able to support your localization efforts. Their voice and background will also add credibility to your brand as it works to build a customer base among these new audiences.

Develop a Localization Style Guide to Streamline Multilingual Content Creation

The examples above clearly illustrate the importance of localization along with translation. Although localization can be a tedious process when applied to each piece of written or produced content, your business can make this process easier by implementing a localization style guide for your brand that aids the localization of brand names, slogans, product names, and other important information.

A localization style guide can be helpful in making sure that a product’s brand name is translated differently to avoid being received in the wrong way. Localization guides can even help you change certain colors or logos that may be closely associated with sensitive subjects in a different culture. A certain type of color, for example, may evoke associations with polarizing government or criminal organizations, while a logo that appears innocuous to American audiences may be strikingly similar to a foreign symbol associated with an active hate group.

As you build out this style guide, this resource will help your content team realize time savings while also improving the consistency of your content.

Reach International Audiences Through Vernacular SEO

While SEO strategy helps you increase search visibility and website traffic among a primary language audience, additional SEO efforts are required to build up search visibility among multilingual audiences. This is known as “vernacular SEO,” and your business can start building a vernacular SEO strategy even with limited time and resources.

Some of the first steps to take in building a vernacular SEO include the following:

  • Figure out which search engine your multilingual audience uses. For American audiences—even those that are non-English speaking—Google is typically the most popular search engine. In other countries, though, search engine preferences may be different. Chinese consumers typically use Baidu for online search, for example.
  • Set up a country-specific domain name. Region or country-specific domains and subdomains are heavily factored in by search engines, and can increase visibility among your target audience.
  • Build strong in-country links to satisfy search engine criteria. In-country linking will help appease an important aspect of how search algorithms understand the authenticity and relevance of your business to multilingual consumers.

Strengthen Credibility Through Strategic Partnerships

As you establish your brand within new, multilingual communities, strategic partnerships with existing trusted brands can help you build trust and relationships among your target audience.

An apparel brand, for example, may look to get its products stocked in reputable retail outlets serving that multilingual audience. Financial advisory services, meanwhile, could reach underserved multilingual communities through promotional partnerships with tax planners and related financial services businesses that don’t overlap as competition.

If you’re ready to add multilingual content to your marketing strategy, it pays to work with a digital advertising partner that can organize this new strategy and reallocate resources to maximize the impact of this new investment. Cox Media can help you set business goals and build a sustainable multilingual strategy that will help you connect with a new, exciting audience.

Contact us today to see how we can help.

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About the Author

Sara Brasfield

Sara is the Content Marketing Manager for Cox Media’s corporate team in Atlanta, with a passion for writing and delivering relevant insights for advertisers. With more than seven years of experience in B2B marketing, Sara aims to help Cox Media’s current and future clients connect with their customers find new and unique ways to grow their business. Outside of the (now virtual!) office, Sara loves spending time running, reading and supporting her favorite teams (Go Braves & Gamecocks!).

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