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Foreign Language Social Media Marketing: From Post to Purchase

Social Media is a key strategy for just about any business’ international marketing strategy. Having an engaging foreign language social media presence is not enough, however. Once you engage your users on social media platforms, it is essential that users have a positive experience from the moment they click on your post to the moment they check out and purchase your service or product. Here are a few ways you can ensure this experience is seamless for your foreign language market.

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1.    Choose social media channels carefully depending on your target market. Facebook and Twitter may be dominant players across many international communities, but you may also find that your target market hangs out on social media channels you are unfamiliar with. If you are marketing to consumers in China, for example, you will want to familiarize yourself with their top 3 social media channels: WeChat, Tencent QQ, and Sina Weibo.

2.    Localize your content. Language is the first step, and it’s vital to getting it right. Proper translation of your posts is critical to making sure your message is received in a positive way. Since “speaking” to your audience in the U.S. is different than speaking to those in another country, localization is the next step after translation. Not only do your words need to translate well, but the images, colors, slogans, etc. that you use must also resonate with potential customers. Knowledge of trends and culture will take you far with this step. But don’t worry if you aren’t sure how to tackle localization. Professionals specializing in localization for various markets will be a key factor in the big picture, and you can hire someone to help you.

3.    Focus on where your content takes your audience. Once you’ve engaged your audience with social media posts, make sure the pages you link to are also translated and localized for this market. If the page your post directs users to is only in English, potential customers will get confused. Instead, provide links to pages specifically designed for them. They will be more inclined to continue reading about your product or service if it is in their own language and localized to fit their demographic and culture.

4.    Ensure your checkout experience is tailored to your market. If you have spent the time and money to localize your social media posts and product landing pages for your target demographic, the last step is the “buy” button or checkout experience. If your target market resides in Germany, for example, the total amount due should be shown in Euros and the shipping and billing address fields should populate with the proper fields for a German address and not request a U.S. zip code, for example. The consumer should not feel confused by this step. Instead, they should feel confident that their items will be delivered to them without any hitches.

Knowing how to guarantee a seamless experience, from the time your team uploads your posts to the moment the consumer makes a purchase, is key when beginning your international social media-marketing journey. When done correctly, international and foreign language social media marketing can deliver tremendous ROI and turn a sizable profit for your business.

Three Things to Consider Before Exporting Your Product to Another Country

Three Things to Consider Before Exporting Your Product to Another Country

Thinking about launching a new product overseas? There are certain factors you should consider before you do. While it can be very lucrative for your company to expand to other markets, it can also be detrimental if you overlook some key considerations. So how do you make the call for your business? These three points can help you decide if your business is ready to launch a new product overseas.

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Choosing the Right Font for your Multilingual Project Doesn't Have to Be Hard

Choosing the right font for any project is certainly important, but it doesn't have to be hard. The font you choose for a document or project can impact the piece’s readability and overall tone. While you wouldn’t expect an important legal document to be printed in a whimsical calligraphy style font, you also wouldn’t expect a lighthearted children’s book to appear in boxy, bold, capitalized lettering. When you add in the fact that a document will be translated into another (or several other) languages, the font you choose becomes even more important, and the reasons for choosing it even more complex.

When designing the layout for your translated document, you will want it to have roughly the same, if not identical, formatting when compared to the source files. You want both the tone and style of your document to be consistent, so choosing a font for your source file that will work well in the language you’ll be translating it into can really save a lot of headache down the line when formatting your translated projects. Here are a few key things to keep in mind when choosing a font:

  1. Determine which languages you’ll be translating into, and choose a font that will work in each one, or at least one that has a similar counterpart in your target languages. If one or more of your target languages uses non-Latin characters (Hebrew, Japanese, Russian, etc.), for example, you will have a more limited selection of font choices. If your original font will not support these characters, you will have to replace it with a font that does when translating. Depending on the font choices, this could make a big difference in the overall look and feel of the source and target texts.
  2. Size does matter. Keep in mind that text can often expand in a translated file. What may only take 5 words to convey in English could take 9 in Spanish. If your font is small to begin with and your text box is also small, you run the risk of either not being able to fit all of the text in the target file’s text box without making it minute, and potentially illegible. When designing your source document, choose a font size that will also work if it needs to be reduced to a slightly smaller size without impacting the overall readability and layout of the page.
  3. If you are using multiple font types within the same document, use fonts that work well together, no matter the language. Fonts should work well together, complementing each other throughout.
  4. Don’t hesitate to ask for help. If you aren’t sure if something will work in the target language, your translation agency can most likely provide a desktop publishing option to ensure your project is properly formatted for both source and target texts.

Translation Apps: When to Use Them and When to Ditch Them

Have you ever seen a short piece of text in another language and wondered what it meant, or wanted to send a brief, basic message to someone in a language you don't speak fluently? While they won't capture the meaning of complex text, cultural nuances, or maintain 100% grammatical accuracy, translation apps can be perfect for things like understanding the basic idea of a conversation or text, or for short and casual conversations with people who don't understand each other's native language. The tricky part is figuring out when translation apps will work for you, and when you're better off ditching them.

What are some of your options?

There are an ever-growing number of translation apps available. These are two of the most popular options available.

  1. Google Translate

Available for both Android and iOS app markets, Google Translate is one of the more comprehensive free translation apps available. You can type in text for it to translate, use the voice-to-text option to both enter the original text and hear the translated result, write text with a stylus, or even upload a photo with text you'd like translated. Google Translate will then attempt to decipher the text and provide the output in around 70 different languages.

  1. iTranslate

iTranslate is also available for both the Android and iOS markets. Similar to Google Translate, iTranslate offers the options of text-to-speech, and normal input translation, but it also offers Romanization. This feature actually converts unfamiliar characters for easier understanding. iTranslate will also work in around 70 different languages and is one of the most popular translation apps to date.

When are they beneficial?

  • Short, basic translations. If you see a short piece of text and want to get a general idea of what the meaning is, translation apps are pretty handy. That's not to say they'll be without error, but for texts that don't include a lot of complexity, you should be able to at least understand the gist of what is being communicated.
  • If you are traveling and want to ask where the nearest bathroom or airport is, translation apps are typically equipped to handle these basic questions. In fact, most will even communicate the question out loud for you in the target language so that the person you're asking will understand what you want to say. If you've got a willing conversation partner, he or she may even enter the response in the app to have the answer read back aloud to you in your native tongue.
Google Translate
Google Translate
iTranslate app
iTranslate app

When should you ditch them?

  • Translation apps should never take the place of actual translators when you need something translated accurately and/or professionally. A quick Internet search for “funny translation errors” should let you know there are plenty of examples when hiring a professional translation company would have saved that business a lot of headache (and money!). If you want something translated well, don't settle for a translation app. Remember, most of the time, you're just getting the gist of that meaning, and not the most correct translation!
  • The longer the translation, the more numerous the errors. If you're trying to use a translation app to read a novel (or translate your own), for example, you're going to miss out on a lot more than you end up understanding. Most translation software won't understand cultural nuances, idiomatic expressions, or even be grammatically correct all of the time. This can cause a lot of problems with longer texts.

Have you used a translation app to translate a quick phrase or to understand the gist of a short text? Which one do you prefer, and why?

Lean In crosses borders: Translation and localization of a universal message

Most of us have heard the hype lately surrounding Cheryl Sandberg's book, Lean In. Women all over the United States are buzzing about the book, including those who have not read it. Seemingly, everyone has an opinion on the book because of the controversial themes mentioned in interviews with the Facebook executive. Sandberg is very clear on her purpose for the book, admitting that she has and still makes a lot of mistakes in taking on the challenge to "lean in" to her career while caring for her family. The term "lean in" is a metaphorical one in the sense that Sandberg encourages women not to sit back and let opportunities pass them by. Now that the book will be found in over 20 international editions, how well will the "lean in" message translate into all these languages? Literal translation of an already figurative phrase is simply not an option.

Such a complex issue is the work of specialized translators who work with women's issues and a great editing team. Mana Nakagawa writes, "A challenge surfaced almost immediately: many languages had no direct translation for the phrase 'lean in.' To resolve this puzzle, each translator crafted a title that would resonate with the local audience while still embodying the book’s core message. The title has now been thoughtfully translated for each international edition; the original English phrase also appears on the international book covers, tying these different editions back to Lean In’s central call to action."

Lean In book titles in various languages (http://leanin.org/discussions/lean-in-goes-global/)

However, the title is only the first piece of the puzzle in marketing the book and empowering women worldwide to take on a more powerful role in their own careers. Translators must work with the Lean In organization to make the concepts and situations in the book relevant to women in the countries where it will be sold. Nakagawa continues, "Our research supplemented the US statistics cited throughout the book with country-specific data wherever possible. This involved investigation into more than twenty-five different issues – from the percentage of women in corporate leadership positions to data on household divisions of labor and public policies – for more than twenty different countries."

Lean In editors take the book's purpose one step further in these international ventures. Various editions will include messages from prominent female leaders who speak to the women in their countries. "These extraordinary women leaders represent a rich diversity of geography, sector, experience and personal choice. However, they all emphasize an important theme: the universality of barriers that women face in achieving leadership."

The book is already available for purchase in nine countries and will surely continue to sell in others, as the combination of an important issue, various research and translation teams and a universal theme allow for its message to cross boundaries and language barriers.

Have you seen the book in another country? What title appears on the cover in that language?

Translating Web Content for Spanish-speaking Consumers: First Steps

Translating your company's website into Spanish doesn't have to be daunting. Should you translate your website content? How do you choose a translation vendor? These are both valid questions when considering the translation of web content. And here are some possible answers that might work for you. Translation is an investment. It can grow your bottom line more than you thought imaginable. Why is that? Consider the ways that your clients reach your site and learn more about your business. Now, think about how many more people you can reach by having your site's content translated. According to the Pew Research Hispanic Center, approximately 78% of Latinos report that they use the Internet to send and receive e-mail. These same groups are searching key terms online (yes, Googling!) to find retailers, compare prices and seek information on products.

The number of Latinos using mobile devices to search online is slowly becoming more even with the number of non-Latino users in the past few years. In 2012 NBC Latino reported, "The digital divide, which can be defined as the disparities between those who have access to the resource of the internet, was much more pronounced in 2009. Then, the internet use rates of Latinos were 64 percent, compared to 80 percent for whites. Now the share of Hispanic adults who say they go online at least occasionally has increased to 78 percent. Comparatively, whites are only at 87 percent. This means the digital divide has been nearly halved in just three years." Many Latinos fall within certain income and age ranges that could very well match up with your current market demographics for native English-speaking clients. According to the Pew Hispanic Center survey, "High family income is correlated with using a mobile device for accessing the internet. About three-in-ten (29%) Hispanic internet users who use a mobile device to access the internet have annual family incomes of $50,000 or more."

In a recent Nielsen Report, it was found that Latino households earning $50,000 or more are projected to grow at a faster rate than other households in the United States. "Hispanics already account for an important share of consumer expenditures and given their youth, educational advances, and increasing spending capacity, Hispanics are fast becoming preeminent drivers of growth and likely trend setters in the marketplace. Marketers will need to understand the what, where, how and why of their role in tomorrow’s consumption space."

Why are so many companies focusing on Spanish in the United States? Besides the constantly growing Latino population, buying power among this group of consumers continues to soar. According to The National Journal, "With an estimated $1.5 trillion to spend, the Hispanic consumer market is expected to boost several economic sectors: housing, food, retail, education, financial services, transportation, entertainment, and media."

Although many may argue that Latinos are often able to read and write in English, creating content in Spanish can build trust and loyalty among Latino consumers. By translating and localizing web content for Spanish-speakers, your company will be able to stand out among your competitors by reaching out to Latino consumers on a personal level. In a survey we conducted at ATS in both Spanish and English with strategic partner Speak Our Language in 2012, we asked participants to rate the importance of a business communicating with them in Spanish. While most said that it was somewhat to extremely important, the majority answered that if a company chooses to communicate in Spanish with customers, poor translations and grammatical errors in their web content has a strong negative impact on their trust in that company.

Therefore, in building your brand among Latino consumers, selecting a vendor with a great track record in translation of marketing materials, as well as the industry in which your company operates (i.e. automotive, food, medical, pharmaceuticals, technical, etc.), is of vital importance. Inquire about the vendor's Quality Assurance process and make sure it's a process with which you feel comfortable. Ask questions and be clear about your expectations. When sending content for translation, it's important to make sure you send the final copy to your vendor and try not to make changes in the source content throughout the process, as this can be costly for the buyer. The vendor should also ask you questions about your target audience, deadline expectations, layout and terminology.

These are some first steps in translating your company's website into Spanish and can put you well on your way to marketing your brand successfully among Latino consumers. What other considerations are important in marketing to Latinos online?

Branding in a Cyber World: Get on Board!

We'll be the first to admit that branding is fascinating. Lately we've read a lot in the news about branding for businesses, especially with the changes that Starbucks has made to its logo and product offerings. How many times has Starbucks made a slight change in its logo through the years, even changing the colors a bit? The symbol of the siren has only changed slightly, making it recognizable throughout the world. Today, we read that Starbucks is now allowing customers to buy their beverages and products by using their gift cards with an app on their smart phones. Although Starbucks is even starting to offer wine and beer at some locations (believe it!), it seems that the main branding trademark of Starbucks has not changed at all. The company still plays on an emotional connection with its customers. Holding that cup of coffee makes us feel cozy and warm in the winter, while shopping with a latte in your hand makes you feel like the chic shopper that you are. How can a single cup of coffee that you might be able to brew yourself at home make you feel that way? It's the branding logic of Starbucks, and it's not going anywhere for a while!

So, now that Starbucks has jumped on board with the new app feature for purchasing their products, why not the rest of us? Sure, we market translation, interpreting and language instruction for a living. But how can we reach more people through this cyber world and still relay our personal brand to our customers? Everyone loves (or needs) coffee, but not everyone needs a document translated to get themselves through the day. Our take on it is the way you treat your clients. We try to be as ethical as possible in dealing with our clients. We try to get them a translated document back early, if we're able. The other side of the coin is not actually the services you render, it's the way you treat the people who are your customers.

Again, we reference Starbucks. And no, they aren't paying us to promote their business. They just have it down. For the most part, they have friendly baristas who make beverages in a timely manner. They have light music playing and soft couches and easy chairs for you to sit and relax or work. They have outlets throughout the store for you to plug in your laptop or cell phone. You can spend endless hours with friends chatting away or working on your computer (especially now with their recently free Wi-Fi connection). Then, if you need a refill, just take your cup back and get one within a few minutes. Instant gratification and little work involved.

So, making your customers feel like they don't have to work that hard to get the quality service they need will keep them coming back. We recently had a customer who emailed us on the weekend to add something to his translated document. It could have waited until Monday, but he had a meeting with his boss the following week, and we knew he needed it. We took a few minutes to take care of the changes he requested, and as easy as hitting the "Send" button, he was a happier client.

We took a personal branding test once, and most of the people who responded (clients and friends) said that we are easy to work with and efficient. So, find out what your personal attributes are and run with them! Use the cyber world as a tool in helping you to continue using them to the best of your ability. If it's simply the way you talk to and treat your clients, what better way than in your emails to them? Make sure they know how much they matter to you.

Use the cyber world to your advantage. Obviously, that's the way things are going these days.