Multilingual Content Marketing - The Ultimate Guide

multilingual content marketing

When your company operates in multiple language zones, you have a golden opportunity to reach a large market with diverse audiences. To make the most of this opportunity, though, it is imperative that you focus on multilingual content marketing. Sadly, this is not simply a case of translating everything and hoping for the best; multilingual content marketing encompasses a whole host of other important factors which are decisive in your success as you delve into different geographical areas.

What is multilingual content marketing?

The main idea behind multilingual content marketing lies in adapting your online content to the needs of different cultures, including (but not solely) language. Content refers to any written material, such as:

  • web pages
  • blog articles
  • social media posts
  • other marketing texts like newsletters or press releases.

These different types of content interact with your customer base on different levels. Some content aims to inform and educate; other genres primarily seek to generate a sale. Sometimes it’s a question of raising brand awareness with your local audience and getting your name out there. These purposes stay the same in multilingual content marketing, but the exact approach may be slightly different. A direct call to action might work in English-speaking markets, but could be seen as verging on brash or rude elsewhere.

When writing a blog, it’s essential that your content is relevant, engaging and strikes the right balance between providing helpful content and call to actions to generate sales. See more tips on writing blog content.

The importance of localized content

Because content engages with your target audience, essentially “talking” to them in your company’s voice, it can’t simply be translated from its original language. That’s because language isn’t merely about words; it also concerns tone, style, and register. Words come laden with connotations, and you don’t want to imply something you didn’t mean to.

For example, let’s say you want to talk about someone who is always keen to find out more. You might describe them as “curious”. But you could also call them “nosy” instead. Both fit the original definition, but one sounds horribly negative. That’s why it pays to have your multilingual content written a native speaker, who is experienced in the cultural nuances as well as linguistically competent.

A well-known beer brand probably wishes they’d thought about their international content marketing strategy when they translated their “turn it loose” campaign into Spanish. Unfortunately, the wording they used in the translation suggested their product would cause diarrhea – probably not what was intended....

More than words

Content localization also involves making content relevant for its audience. While an audience in the UK might dunk a biscuit in their cup of tea, and American audience would be far more likely to talk about eating a “cookie” – and they’d be much less likely to dip it into their cup of tea, too! Failure to make these tweaks risks alienating potential customers, who will then be far less receptive to your core message.

Sometimes it goes beyond using different words, though. Symbols are all around us, and how we interpret them depends on our cultural background and what we have been (subconsciously) led to associate them with. Take the color purple. For many Europeans and Americans, it is associated with luxury, the whimsical, and the mysterious. For internet users in Italy, though, purple is firmly rooted in the realm of death and grief. It is the color of funerals and considered bad taste to wear purple to an opera, or even use purple wrapping paper for a gift. That’s why it pays dividends to do your market research.

When it comes to the best eCommerce marketing strategies, it’s also important to ensure prices are displayed in the correct currency and numbers are formatted appropriately. For example, in France, 1,999.99 would be written as 1.999,99. The comma and full stop are switched around.

Multilingual SEO considerations
Your multilingual marketing campaign will take into consideration the needs of your audience, feeding them relevant, helpful content. As well as localizing and translating existing content, it is well worth spending time planning a bespoke SEO strategy.

Just like the content itself, different countries have different SEO considerations. A prime example of this is the keywords themselves. Words and phrases that work well in English may not always be the top search terms for by your target audience, so multilingual keyword research is also an invaluable aspect of developing a multilingual content marketing strategy.

And, no matter what area your company focuses on, it is always a good idea to think about translating semantic keywords as well. These are search terms that relate to your original term conceptually, and share the same original search intent.

Some examples include:

Original search term Semantically similar keywords
Photographer Photography; camera; wedding; portrait
Easy recipes recipes for kids; cake recipes; recipes for beginners; instant pots; quick dinners; easy dinner ideas.
Rugs Runner rug; carpets; natural fibres; floor coverings; living room.
When English is still the best choice... even for multilingual content marketing

For some products and search terms, an English phrase is more heavily targeted than the same word translation. This is often the case for scientific or technical terms – and of course, many English words are creeping into other languages, too – but not every country adopts them at the same rate, and some countries (France in particular) resist infiltration of English terms. For example, while Germany and Italy both used the term “lockdown” to talk about pandemic restrictions, the French referred to “le confinement”, similar to the Spanish, “el confinamiento”.

Once you have pinpointed the most appropriate search terms to meet your prospective target market, you can think about the kinds of marketing channels to use.

International link building

Having researched your new audience and their culture, then identified the best keywords to target, you can start to think about where to place your content – and how to get people to see it. As part of your multilingual SEO strategy, you may well be looking at multilingual link building to boost your visibility in different countries. Backlinks from reputable sites in your target country not only boost your reach among potential new customers, it also does wonders for your search engine ranking.

That’s because the more backlinks from high-authority sites in the relevant country you have, the more Google (or potentially another, more frequently used search engine, depending on the country) considers you to be relevant to its users there. You can read more tips on this if you’re still uncertain.

Creating well-written, in-depth content to use as a multilingual guest post is a surefire way to draw in new readers. What’s more, if you deliver a new angle or a unique perspective, you’re more likely to have your content shared and therefore read more widely. It could even rank highly with Google if enough people value it.

Multilingual content marketing needn’t feel daunting. The take-home message should be the importance of prioritizing quality over quantity, so you can build trust with your audience and get across your company’s core message. Even in unchartered territories, this will remain the same, allowing you to find and engage with new readers through your carefully considered multilingual content.

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