Harnessing the power of multilingual content

The Power of Multilingual Content

Why creating linguistically and culturally appropriate content for your global audiences is important

The internet has opened up the world in ways we might not have thought possible 50 years ago. We can access endless information, make purchases from anywhere in the world and communicate 24 hours a day with anyone we like as long as they are ‘connected’. On this level, many of us are fortunate to live in an exciting global community.

But on another level, we are still grounded in where we live and the language and culture of our village, region or nation. Research consistently demonstrates that when we make purchases online, we prefer to do so in the language we are most comfortable speaking, usually the language we learn from birth.

If the objective of effective content is to reach the right person at the right time, in a global context that means also doing it in the right language.

What is multilingual content?

Content can be technical, journalistic, marketing or educational but the definition is fluid. Content connects an audience to a message, a solution or a point of interest. Content has become the key to successful marketing and today, when we talk about content, we mostly associate it with the digital landscape.

If your organization does business in other countries or with diverse cultural groups, it probably needs content in more than one language.

Translation is the starting point for providing your audience with content in the language they want. From there, depending on its purpose, the content may benefit from distinct types of linguistic or cultural adaptation. Localization means making sure your content fits audience expectations and could involve things like modifying cultural references, changing payment methods or altering the user interface. Taking adaptation a step further, transcreation is when a combination of translation and (original) creation is used to produce text that is designed to have a maximum and precise impact.

What are the challenges of creating multilingual content?

Language is far from uniform and even before thinking about localization or transcreation, there are many variables to consider.

Languages can contract or expand when they are translated depending on their grammar, structure or how terminology is used. German for example, often takes up more space on a page than other languages. Moreover, some languages are written and read right to left or top to bottom. These factors will influence design and layout, and how captions or subtitles appear.

Deciding which type of translation strategy fits which type of content can also be a challenge. Understanding exactly who your audience is and what they expect is key. Taking into account how your target audience interacts online, where they buy and the tone of voice they prefer, are all important. We now do our shopping via social media, search engines and online marketplaces as well as traditional e-commerce sites and producing the right type of content for each platform in the most appropriate linguistic and cultural way can be complex.

Some types of translation will be more straightforward than others. With e-commerce descriptions, for example, the challenge may be the quantity required and deciding whether machine translation could help the process. However, if you have clever brand slogans or tag lines to transfer into a new language, creating a few compelling words could take a lot of time and energy.

What are the benefits of multilingual content?

Adapted content gives your customers what they need most – ease of use. Language can be an obstacle to seamless interaction and by providing content in the language your customers or end users are most comfortable speaking, barriers to purchase are removed.

Focusing on the end users of your content builds trust. It demonstrates that your organization is making your customers its top priority and this in turn adds to the strength of your brand’s identity in new markets.

Making your content accessible in new languages will help it rank higher in local searches, thus expanding your potential reach. Optimizing for international SEO means adapting both on and off-page language and helping your web pages move up the rankings, possibly in new local search engines.

All these factors combine to elevate your brand and boost its authority. And of course, when this happens the knock-on effect is higher sales revenue and hopefully increased profit.

What are the best strategies for creating effective multilingual content?

Knowing your audience is vital. Doing your research and understanding who you’re targeting and what their preferred language and cultural context is will help you build a solid foundation for your multilingual efforts.

In the globalized world of today, language shouldn’t be an afterthought. If your company is hoping to expand into new regions, planning how you will take your content into additional languages should be on your radar early on. Integrating languages into business strategy at the first possible moment will give you an advantage.

Content needs can vary depending on the type of organization or business that is involved and the right strategy for your company is one that has been tailored to fit. Language service providers (LSPs) like t’works have the experience and knowledge to offer expert assistance and will be able to advise on all aspects of your multilingual journey.

As artificial intelligence continues to infiltrate the language sector and AI content platforms promise easy, scalable and value-for-money strategies, an LSP will be able to offer up-to-date and in-depth advice on AI and machine translation and where exactly these technologies can provide your business with real value.

Successful Examples of Multilingual Content Creation

Companies that promote their products and services around the world do so with careful attention to the balance between local and global. Knowing how to take a brand’s core values and products to new markets whilst appealing to local populations is a fascinating and complex but rewarding process.

The tall yellow arches of McDonald’s are recognizable the world over but stepping into the burger restaurant in New York will be subtly different from visiting it in Shanghai or Delhi. McDonald’s adapts its menus to suit local culinary tastes, whilst making sure it retains its central brand identity. Over the years McDonald’s has used language in clever ways. The menu items designed to suit local palates often use the prefix ‘Mc’ like, for example, the McAloo Tikka in India or the Croq McDo in France, while the famous slogan ‘I’m lovin it’ in English has been adapted using transcreation into many different languages.

Spreading its message globally is a guiding principle for the WWF and it works to ensure that people everywhere can engage with its core mission, that of protecting nature. The WWF focuses on speaking to its audience in their home languages wherever possible and its website is translated into over 50. It adapts its content to appeal to local populations, zooming in on issues affecting their particular region and translates its reports and educational guides into different languages. Its global awareness movement ‘Earth Hour’ has been adapted to many different cultures and languages.

t’works has the expertise, experience and technical know-how to help you create the best multilingual content strategy for your business. With dedicated project managers, in-house native speaker linguists and quality assurance guaranteed, we make sure your message reaches the right people in the right languages. Get in touch with us to discuss your projects today.

At t’works we make global easy.

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Marie-Laure Vinckx

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