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Content localisation: How to avoid being lost in translation

Budget restrictions, competing priorities and a misaligned workflow can make engaging with your audience hard. It’s even harder if they don’t understand what you’re saying. As a marketer, how do you build a better ad experience, improve your content for a global audience and—ultimately—grow your business? Find out why translation simply doesn’t cut it anymore and learn all about the benefits and pitfalls of content localisation.

Nowadays there are multiple challenges that marketers face when it comes to increasing engagement in a global marketplace. For example, ad fatigue, abandoned shopping carts and low attention spans are just a few ways your audience can become disengaged. Adding to the pressure of meeting deadlines, keeping brand consistency or getting you and your global team to have a balanced workflow, localising your content on top of these can be hard. Especially when translation just simply isn’t enough to reach and engage with your global audience. 

How your content is created has a huge impact on how engaging and effective it is. 

Today, more than 70% of consumers require information in their language before making a purchase. This means that your ads need to make an impact and create an emotional connection with potential customers before they purchase. To do so, you will need to adapt your creative content to the unique cultural context of your target audience. 

You can create these meaningful connections on the global market by applying the principles of content localisation to your next campaign.

But what exactly is content localisation? And why doesn’t translation cut it anymore? Let’s dive in.

What is localization? 

Some advertisers might think that it is enough to simply translate ad campaigns word-for-word for them to be usable in a multicultural and global context. It sort of makes sense, doesn’t it? If you’ve spent your time, energy and money on coming up with a killer slogan for your ad campaign, why would you spend the same amount of resources on coming up with a new one in multiple different languages? 

But there’s a catch. Clever slogans and ad copy rarely translate seamlessly into multiple languages. In this way, it can become easy to lose focus and get your message quite literally lost in translation. 

There are plenty of examples to be found about failed marketing campaigns ranging from something harmless like KFC’s “finger-licking good” slogan being translated as “eat your fingers off” in China or something a little less funny like “got milk?” being translated into “are you lactating?” in Mexico. 

(Source: Meticulosity)

In the case of the Kentucky Fried Chicken slogan, word-for-word translation does not cut it anymore. But engaging with a global audience is hard. 72.1% of internet users prefer to visit sites that are in their own language. People have a low attention span and are bombarded by thousands of ads a day and even though if they pay attention to you they might never buy because “who needs a frog frier anyways?” It’s even harder if they don’t understand what you’re are trying to sell to them.

The solution? Content localisation. 

Content localisation is a process that uses the adaptation of your product or service to a specific culture, language or target population. Localised content is designed to appear like it has been developed within the local culture. This creates a sense of familiarity and authenticity for your target audience. It’s about creating hyper-specific content tailored to multiple cultural demographics. 

Examples of localisation include adapting to the idiomatic language, currency, national holidays and traditions of the local culture. In short, localisation is about delivering the right message, at the right time, in the right place, to the right consumer. 

Here is a visual example of what localization can look like.

(Source: Spotify

In these variations of hyper-localised Spotify playlists, you can see that playlists in different countries feature different models, clothing, backgrounds and background colours, languages and fonts. Whether it is about celebrating a specific holiday in a given country or having universal “Happy Hits” playlists, who and what you feature in your creatives matters if you want to create a meaningful connection with your audience. 

The differences between content localisation versus translation 

Although at first glance localisation and translation might seem like the same thing, they have many different angles that make localisation very attractive for the modern marketer.

> Translation
Basic text conversion from one language to another. Detached ad experience that may not resonate with your target audience. Missed opportunities for integrating cultural nuances into an ad campaign.

> Content Localisation
The translated text includes local phrases, characters and symbols. Cultural adaptation to the target market. Resonating with your audience through personalised content.

1. Translation as part of localisation

Translation is just a very important aspect of localisation. But localisation brings the whole personalisation of advertisement to a whole new level, allowing to appropriate the cultural nuances and create much more resonance and empathy with a potential customer.

In other words, your brand can view the translation of your copy as the first step towards reaching a multinational audience.

(Source: Spotify)

2. Text conversion vs. adaptation

Translation is simply about converting a text from one language into another. Translation considers the intent of the text as well as the key concepts but fails to go beyond that.

Localisation, on the other hand, adapts to the specific cultural elements of the target demographic. This is done by considering the layout, format, images, linguistic peculiarities, currency and geographical location of your target audience. 

For example, research shows that 92% of shoppers prefer to purchase goods in their local currency, and 33% of shoppers are likely to leave without completing their purchase if the price is only listed in USD. 

In this simple example below, you can see how Spotify goes beyond just text conversion and instead adapts to an entire culture. 

(Source: Spotify)

In this case, cultural attitudes towards showing skin differ in these cultures which is why we see  that the image and colours are the two primary elements that have been adjusted from the US campaign to the Saudi one. 

3. Detached vs. personal ad experience

Translated materials can fall short of the emotional connection your brand seeks to achieve with its customers. This is why localised ads offer an authentic connection that creates a familiar feeling and thus resonates better with your audience. 

In the below example you can see how some of our own clients have used our Creative Automation platform to adapt their content and create a personalised experience for their potential customers. 

Top Benefits of Content Localisation

> Scale your marketing campaigns to reach a global audience in a personalised way
To avoid getting lost in your multiple creative campaigns and your growing audience, you need to make the ultimate shift from manual to automated production. Creative Automation can make their distribution to a wider, global audience easier and more effective, so you can focus on staying creative.

> Maintain brand control and consistency across markets
Once you’ve successfully scaled up your business and branched out to multiple markets, now you have to maintain control over your localised assets.

> Test your creative variations
All marketing campaigns, local or global, need to be designed to be adaptable to the changing circumstances in the market.

> Efficient workflows
Whether you’re working with a centralised or a decentralised workflow, using Creative Automation you can make sure that the right campaign goes live at the right time and at the right place.

The benefits of content localisation 

Creating targeted marketing content in a single language can be challenging. Try translating and localising that content into five additional languages, and the challenges go up exponentially. In the modern world of advertising, more and more brands are turning towards Creative Automation in order to manage the high volume of content. 

A successful localiaation strategy can go a long way, but you cannot be expected to deliver all of your ad variations manually. With the help of a cloud-based self-service Creative Automation platform, you can reap the benefits of content localisation on a global scale. 

Below we have outlined the four main benefits of localisation through Creative Automation. 

1. Scaling marketing campaigns

Through localisation, your campaign can grow to a global scale. The benefit of localised ads and their increasing popularity makes them a necessary addition. With more and more brands using localised ads, their lack can be easily noticed.

When we look beyond borders at an international and multicultural audience, the numbers suddenly get a lot bigger. This is why the process of localisation is specifically designed to reach a wider, more global audience.

But creating meaningful content on a significantly larger scale has its challenges. With an increased scale and growing pool of customers, the opportunity for making mistakes also begins to grow. For you to create engaging campaigns through localisation, your focus has to be on creative production.

To avoid getting lost in your multiple creative campaigns and your growing audience, the ultimate shift from manual to automated production needs to be made. While you are focusing on creative content creation, Creative Automation can make their distribution to a wider, global audience easier and more effective. 

2. Maintaining brand control across markets

Once you’ve successfully scaled up your business and branched out to multiple markets, now you have the challenge of maintaining control over your brand assets and upholding a consistent brand image across markets. 

Regardless of where you advertise, your brand should still stand for the same. You can change your campaigns, but you shouldn’t have to compromise on your values, goals and targets when reaching out to a more diverse and global market. 

While depending on your target markets your master creative can change, fonts, colours, shapes and backgrounds can be kept consistent with our Creative Automation platform. 

3. Optimising and using data to test your creative variations 

Each market comes with its own unique characteristics. Whether it is a different language that’s spoken or a different religion practiced, no culture is the same. 

Fortunately, though, you aren’t expected to magically learn about all of your different target markets and deliver flawless results immediately. That is what testing is for. All marketing campaigns, local or global, need to be designed to be adaptable to the changing circumstances in the market. 

In combination with your already localised materials (language, image, etc.) you can now begin to generate iterations that include considerations on the season, specific geographical location, colours, etc. Whether it is A/B or multivariate, testing is an important part of content localisation that can help you figure out how to provide the best personalised ad experience for your potential customers. 

With Creative Automation, you have endless possibilities for testing and iterating your ad campaigns. After all, knowing the optimal size, colour or location of a Call to action button can make a difference between making a sale and losing a potential customer. 

4. Creating an efficient ad production workflow at scale 

Nowadays, more than ever, your creative and marketing teams may be scattered all across the globe. Because of this, what it means to be connected and working together have new definitions. 

With every team seemingly working with different apps and platforms, your teams can struggle to get things done effectively. With some people working from home and some from the office (and some from abroad), keeping your team aligned can be particularly challenging. To avoid duplicate work, missed deadlines and going live with unapproved and brand non-compliant campaigns, your team needs to adopt and adapt to using creative management through Creative Automation. 

This is especially important for creating and running localised ad campaigns. When your target audience grows and your market expands, the possibilities for things to become disorganised,  to slip through the cracks, grows. 

In short, when creative and marketing teams put a system in place like Creative Automation, it will help everyone on their team stay organised, efficient and aligned. This leads to fewer mistakes, faster go-to-market time and an overall better customer experience.

Key takeaways

  • When localising your content to multiple markets, the demands of your marketing campaigns multiply.
  • Translation is a part of localisation and you should take advantage of today’s possibilities of getting the right message to the right people, at the right time.
  • With Creative Automation, you can simplify your workflows, avoid increasing headcount, maintain brand consistency and drive the go-to-market-time.
  • “Using Storyteq, our team was able to produce 6,000+ ad versions in three months, saving an estimated 550 days of production time.” – Rishwan Ashraf Creative Marketing Manager at Voodoo.

In the modern world of advertising, more and more brands are turning towards Creative Automation in order to manage the high volume of content. 

With Creative Automation, your company can simplify workflows, avoid increasing headcount, maintain brand consistency, and drive the go-to-market-time. To be competitive in a global market, your company needs to fully localise—and not just translate—the entire ad experience. And by doing so from within the company headquarters, you are able to localise with maximum quality and speed.

Jan 25, 2022
Robert Winkel
Robert Winkel
Johanna Kaszti
MarCom Executive at Storyteq
As the MarCom Executive, Johanna works alongside our marketing team to write stories for our various platforms. Outside of work, she is passionate about the outdoors and animals.

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