February 24, 2021 • 5 min read
You’re killing it with your content marketing. You’ve created a veritable content marketing machine with a loyal audience, and you get what your readers want. But now your company is quickly expanding into new international markets, and you’re tasked with replicating your local content marketing success around the globe.
You’ve already invested time and energy into creating great content for your original market, so it makes sense to repurpose it for your new audiences. But if you think you can pull this off with copy, paste, and a little Google Translator, you’re sorely mistaken.
There are many challenges around international content marketing within a new region, including mastering a completely different language, or at least new slang; adopting a distinct cultural identity; adapting to unique ways of doing business; and understanding how your new audience relates to imagery and advertising.
Here are a few tips for taking your local content marketing strategy international.
Any solid marketing strategy begins with thorough customer research. Still, in the rush to enter a new market, it can be tempting to gloss over this step or assume that your new audience has the same desires and pain points as your existing customer base. After all, they’re buying the same product, so their needs are the same, right?
Not exactly; the reality is much more nuanced, and it’s important to conduct thorough international market research before translating your content.
Begin by sussing out the competition in your target country or region. Understand who your biggest competitors will be and evaluate their marketing strategy. What does their website look like? Do they blog frequently? What topics do they cover? Are they on social media? If so, which platforms do they use and what are they posting?
Flag their most successful content, including blog articles and social media posts, and try to understand why they worked well—the comments section of a post can be a big help here. This will give you key insights into what your audience responds to and how you can replicate this type of success in your marketing.
Also, begin to understand how your new audience uses the internet. Do they spend more time browsing the web on desktops or smartphones? Which social media platforms do they engage with most? To get a big picture perspective on how your audience is likely to consume your content, look into the following:
Demographics, including age and socioeconomic status.
Unique habits or idiosyncrasies when it comes to technology use. For example, people in China tend to use fake names online and avoid filling out forms because they do not want to be contacted by sales people.
Favorite apps (in addition to social media platforms).
Content consumption habits (do they spend more time with video, articles, podcasts, or slide decks?).
We’ve all heard horror stories about branding campaigns that translated poorly to other languages. When written in English, your tagline may be charming or clever, but translate it word-for-word to another language, and all of a sudden you’re talking about animal feces or getting a chicken all hot and bothered.
Writing for another country or language takes more than just a good turn of phrase and basic translation skills—it takes a top-notch writer who is fully bilingual and who can take your content and rework it to match the needs of your new audience. In addition to being a skilled writer, your new copywriter must understand the ins and outs of marketing in the region and how to reshape content to appeal to that unique culture.
Ideally, you’ll start with a small full-time marketing team in your new region that includes at least one skilled content marketer. If this isn’t an option, you can search for copywriters in that region through LinkedIn or by posting on a local freelance website.
Don’t skimp on this one; trust me, you’ll regret it later when you wind up on a content marketing translation fails list.
The logistics of repurposing content for another market can be complicated. With multiple marketing teams working in a range of countries, you’ll undoubtedly have emails flying around about where to find original image files and editable text documents.
As your company grows, it becomes increasingly important to develop a system for managing and distributing content across teams and borders. For social media content, using a content marketing suite that allows your social media team to plan, schedule, and repurpose content all in one place will save you a tremendous amount of time and effort.
And when it comes to editorial content, it’s important to make sure to have the original text documents, the corresponding full-size image files, and the resized image files all in one place. Stick to a consistent naming system so that your teammates can quickly find what they’re looking for (with blog posts, you can create a folder for each post with the final URL slug).
When adapting your existing content marketing assets to international markets, it’s important to conduct comprehensive market research, hire skilled writers with a native command over the local language, and maintain a content library that allows all teams to easily find the materials they need. Additionally, the right software will enable collaboration across teams and geographical borders, helping to eliminate internal silos.
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