Translating your international business success in the wake of Covid

There’s no denying the impact that Covid has had on the international economy. The pace of manufacturing has dropped significantly, with supply chains being disrupted across the world. However, there are a number of excellent reasons for considering international expansion through 2022 and beyond.

Engaging with international markets

The shrinking of domestic markets may mean that businesses have to look to foreign markets for continued growth. It was a similar scenario prior to the pandemic, with many companies looking to make the most of opportunities within the emerging markets of Asia. Covid has, if anything, strengthened the commitment to such international plans.

Other potential reasons for international expansion include:

  • Access to raw materials – businesses may minimise the risks of costly supply chain disruptions by opening plants beside material sources
  • Access to pools of labour – there’s the potential for diversification of talent beyond the domestic market
  • Connection with international audiences – businesses can boost their sales prospects by connecting with the wider international community
  • Development of international relationships – the building of relationships with customers, suppliers, vendors and other contacts overseas will mean that companies aren’t reliant on any single market
  • Ease of mass manufacturing – some international bases provide greater opportunity for mass manufacture due to resourcing or accessibility.

Such benefits were realised by many businesses following the international financial crisis of 2009. This is expected to be the case once more, as the global economy recovers and companies form more relationships with overseas partners. Translation will be key, with communication in the correct language being considered of greater importance than price for 56.2% of consumers (according to the Harvard Business Review).

Essential research and analysis

Those of you who read our recent blog on how to boost global growth will be aware of the need to carry out thorough market research and ensure due diligence when preparing to enter international markets. This should begin with a SWOT analysis (considering your business strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) and continue with a full market analysis.

Such research is expected to prove of immense value, allowing you to gain a good idea of consumer attitudes, market sizes, and relative economic standings. International laws and regulations should also be investigated, so that you can identify the steps necessary for compliance.

Connecting successfully with international markets will depend to a large extent on your ability to overcome cultural barriers and appropriately update communications. Time should be spent studying professional practices in any international markets that you’re targeting. Communications should be reviewed and adapted for the best chance of making a positive impact, rather than causing offence.

See the stats:

75% of consumers are more likely to buy products from websites in their native language (CSA Research).

Translating your website for these 4 countries is estimated to give you access to 50% of worldwide sales potential: United States, China, Japan, and Germany (Translated).

Businesses that invest in translation are 1.5 times more likely to observe an increase in revenue (Localize)

Professional translation is likely to prove your smartest investment when going global. It may be seen as evidence of your exceptional customer care, with the potential award of lasting loyalty. It will give you the best chance of engaging and ensuring the accessibility of content for your entire audience. You will stand to benefit with the communication of your brand values on a global scale. There’s every chance that your reputation will improve and you’ll be in a better position to compete with your global rivals.

It’s also important to ensure that your content is effectively localised, specific to the locale or market that you’re targeting. This will mean going beyond the basic word-for-word translation, ensuring that everything from the currency to the formatting of dates and addresses is correct for the international audience. There may be a need to adapt your written communications and modify your graphics for successful engagement. Localisation will have a direct bearing on the level of trust and visibility of your brand, with a potentially positive impact on market share and revenue.

Updating your digital content

Your translation priorities may differ depending on the international markets that you’re entering and the products and/or services that you’re offering. However, it’s likely that your web content will be the first point of contact with international customers. So it’s worth taking the time to develop an international SEO translation strategy, with local keyword research being key. The most impactful keywords are unlikely to be the same as those for your local area.

You should be aware and make appropriate use of words and phrases based on the researched behaviours of your international target market. While tools such as Google Translate may prove of some help, your content should be translated by professionals with an understanding of your target market. Such experts will be able to translate blog and article content for the best international SEO results. You can also rely on professional support when it comes to the translation of landing pages for online advertisements.

The digital localisation process might include:

  • Setting up the appropriate URL structure (including top-level domains, subdirectories and subdomains)
  • Making best use of Hreflang and meta language tags for website targeting
  • Converting to international currencies
  • Updating international telephone numbers and addresses
  • Localising number formats and units of measurement
  • Translating social media posts and PPC advertisements

You might well have used InDesign to create of artwork, brochures and marketing collateral. Consider translating it for the best chance of engaging with your international audience. 

InDesign translation is more than just replacing the words. Time may have to be spent editing the written content to retain the desirable amount of white space and changing the font so that it’s in the language of your target audience. You might even need to switch the direction of the text (especially if you’re targeting the Arabic market)… more challenging than it sounds if you don’t speak the language. 

An investment in professional translation is sure to prove time and cost-effective in such a scenario.

Other translation essentials

The translation process shouldn’t be restricted to your digital content. There may be a need to ensure product labelling compliance, with pack information, instruction leaflets and product labels all having to be updated. Your offline marketing materials should be translated, ensuring that they are easily understandable and engaging. Dedicated support should also be provided in the customer’s native language.

The list of translation essentials may include:

  • Product names and taglines
  • Promotional poster/s for events and exhibitions
  • Business cards
  • Product or services fact sheets or leaflets

You should also consider the translation of:

  • Legal documents and contracts
  • Terms and conditions
  • Technical manuals
  • Contracts of employment

While your written content is bound to be the main focus of international translation, it’s also essential to account for the cultural associations of colours and images. You could cause confusion and distress if you hand one of your Thai business contacts a purple business card (as purple is associated with mourning in Thailand). There should also be some consideration of the cultural symbolism of animals such as the cat and elephant. It’s always best to consult a professional translator with comprehensive knowledge of cultural meanings in your target markets.

The risk of a translation faux-pas

What might happen if you don’t make the investment in human and professional translation services? Well, you could end up in an embarrassing situation, similar to that of the American beer company – Coors. They failed to check the wording of their “Turn it loose” campaign, which literally translated as “suffer from diarrhoea” in Spain. The sh*t hit the fan when this campaign was publicised.

Such a translation “faux-pas” could severely impact your international business reputation, resulting in major costs and even legal action. Customer satisfaction scores could drop, with your brand name forever being tarnished. Your business could become a laughing stock on social media and you be left with no other option but to leave the foreign market. It’s enough to give you nightmares.

It will be a very different story if you ensure that your content is translated into the audience’s language, accounting for international idioms and dialects. Such expertly translated content is sure to resonate with the international audience, adding value to your marketing campaigns. You can rest assured in the knowledge that your marketing materials are suitably focused and free of potentially costly errors.

Get in touch

We hope this article has been useful, or at least confirmed your belief in the importance of professional translation. You should be committed to investing in the translation of everything from your company home page to your marketing material to your terms and conditions. That’s where Sure Languages can make all the difference.

Based in the UK and working with expert translators across the world, we’ve made it our mission to help ambitious organisations reach global audiences. With professional linguists fluent in more than 100 languages, we should be your go-to for accurate and on-point translation. Give us a ring on (44) 0330 223 5337 or email for more information about our translation services.

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