Many companies looking to expand internationally may find the unique barriers to launching their brands, particularly in emerging markets like Brazil and China, potentially daunting. Localizing marketing communications often requires significant planning and investment, not to mention the management of practical, technical and logistical challenges, before even the first conversion is realized.
In this post, we’ll look at how English content can be used to make some international markets more accessible to companies looking for lower-risk avenues into global expansion. The analysis of on-site behavior, search data and sales trends gleaned from a soft-launch with English content can also prove the case for a marketing localization budget, as well as help identify product and advertising preferences in a region before making the in-language investment.
Native English-speaking countries
“You say potato, we say potahto”
For many US companies seeking global expansion, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand are often among the first markets to be selected thanks to their shared language, comparatively few barriers to entry and relatively high income. While the use of English in these countries may facilitate an easier transition into the market, it’s important to note that linguistic nuances like terminology differences still need to be considered when devising marketing campaigns. US English content that drives conversions in the United States may have less impact in international markets without local market adaptation.
Take the example of paid advertisements on search engines. Keyword lists for search ads are usually built around domestic search traffic trends to capture the largest possible proportion of relevant consumer interest, but while in-country market potential may be present, US-English keywords may not be relevant to every English-speaking market. For example, one of our US clients looking to expand a US search campaign targeting buyers of “strollers”, “onesies” and “pacifiers” found that British consumers search for “prams”, “rompers” and “dummies.” Not adapting their keywords and ad copy for these nuances would have severely limited the performance of their digital campaigns.
Other English-speaking Countries
While developing content in-language is always a good long-term strategy, many international markets have high enough levels of English proficiency to deliver reasonable short-term success with English content.
*EF Index >58 is considered high. Data not available for Iceland or the Philippines
As the EF English Proficiency Index graph [above] shows, Northern Europe has some of the highest rates of English fluency in the world. The region is also a high income area in which the average household spends €2,145 annually online (well above the €1,400 average in Europe), making this an attractive market for e-commerce retailers. Singapore is similarly well suited to English marketing efforts, with over 80% of the population speaking English and the third highest GDP per capita in the world. This also makes Singapore a great testing ground for companies planning to expand into other Asian markets.
The need for adaptation of English content holds true in these markets just as it does in the UK or Australia. Content and marketing campaigns should be organized according to target market rather than language in all cases to account for local language use and preferences in each market.
Machine translation (MT) is a hot topic within the localization world. The improvements in MT have been impressive and it has become a more common method of translating content. But is machine translation always appropriate and should it be used as frequently as it is? Is machine translation the way forward or a black-hole?
Managing international PPC campaigns is a complicated task. Not only do you have to manage keywords and ad text in languages you don’t understand, but you also need to manage larger campaigns, with multiple responses and varying success.
I’m not going to preach to you about keyword research vs. translation, ad text character limits or local search engines etc. This is also useful information but really it’s regurgitated by almost every blog out there. So instead, we’re going to get our hands dirty and talk to you about the real grind of managing multilingual / international PPC campaigns.
Yandex have broken from tradition again and launched a new interactive snippets and SERP re-design to be rolled out later this year. But does innovation always bring success? Wordbank has analyzed the expected design and implementation of rich snippets and we’re excited, but harbouring some concerns.
Do Yandex interactive snippets really bring users closer to their request? We feel there are 3 key reasons they could hinder user experience.
Thanks to everyone who came to see us over the three days of Internet World 2013 at Earls Court 2. It was great to speak to all the visitors to our stand keen to take their businesses into Europe, South America and Asia and helping answer questions about building and executing online strategies for these markets.
Internet Explorer 6 in China has long been a discussion point for website design targeting this country. Historically, IE6 usage in China has been extremely high with 1 in every 4 users coming through this browser/version. It makes China problematic for website designers as any site must function under IE6, and therefore limits design freedom.
However, since the turn of this year, some reports are suggesting a rapid decline of IE6 in China with StatCounter suggesting as low as 5% usage in Feb 2013. How accurate is this data and have we seen the end of IE6 in China?
International PPC is often considered the ‘next step’ of paid search activity after a fairly steady English market PPC strategy has been identified and tackled. This is understandable but often it’s the international PPC which then suffers due to pre-existing English campaigns taking over international/multilingual PPC advertising.
In this post we examine some of those common issues and how it should be resolved.
The final part of the SEO in localization series switches the focus to help identify when we need localization for SEO purposes. Multilingual SEO strategies can be created at a top level but localization is the key to delivering this strategy effectively. Below are some of the key areas where SEO and localization must combine in order to gain traction and market specific ROI.
The second part of our 3 part series on SEO in localization focuses on the difficulties many companies have when going global – at which point should I start SEO on my multilingual sites? Quite often, the choice is made for you by the need to make a series of sacrifices, but there is no doubt that there is an optimal time to include SEO in your website localization.
So, let’s make it a simple timeline. When should SEO be part of your website localization: after, during or before translation?