International content marketing: think global, act local
Using content to extend your reach into other global markets can be a hugely successful strategy but, as with anything worth doing, it takes careful preparation and planning. It’s not enough to simply translate your existing assets into another language; you can’t assume that the tactics and positioning you’ve been using in your home market will be relevant, or even appropriate, to audiences within other countries and cultures.
Complacency over preparation and research will almost certainly mean you’ll be neglecting opportunities to maximise your impact (engagement, conversions, brand awareness etc) – perhaps missing a nuance of culture with the potential to spark a gem of a creative campaign in your chosen market. Falling wide of the mark could lead to misinterpretations and embarrassing faux pas that could tarnish your entry into the market. Very serious misjudgements can even cause offence.
A recent example that raised eyebrows was Taylor Swift’s use of ‘TS 1989’ to market her fashion line and album and tour of the same name in China. As well as being her initials and year of birth, the phrase also signifies the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre, an incident so politically sensitive that its discussion is banned by Chinese authorities.
Know your customer
This fundamental marketing mantra is particularly relevant to the success of any international content marketing venture, as meeting cultural expectations and interests is key to building affinity and trust across diverse audiences.
This requires you to take into account cultural nuances that go beyond language. This could include preferred social platforms, search behaviour, lifestyle differences, the impact of customs and traditions, such as local holidays, the influence of pop culture, preferred style and format (perhaps even down to colour choices), the significance of symbols/imagery, tone of voice, the kind of topics considered acceptable or taboo – the list goes on.
Do your research
Of course, expanding your business into international territory has always presented certain challenges, but the very nature of content marketing – creating content/assets designed to stand out, combined with the visibility of search and social – means greater exposure.
Carrying out a PESTLE (political, economic, social, technological, legal, environmental) analysis will highlight aspects that may not have been immediately apparent. For example, are there any specific regulations regarding privacy and data protection? Is internet access or broadband coverage limited? Are there any restrictions on social media channels?
Local insight is key
If you’ve ever tried to learn a language using just a phrase book, you’ll know there’s no substitute for interacting with native speakers who are immersed in the local culture of your destination to add context and depth to your understanding.
Consult a native language speaker who understands the local user journey – ideally with experience in your industry – who can help give your campaigns an authentic spin using colloquialisms, allowing you to recreate, rather than just translate, existing content. Even better, identify and engage with influential local bloggers. Build these local relationships to add value now and in the future.
Vive la difference and get creative
Language and culture don’t have to be barriers; embracing differences both strategically and creatively can help generate fresh ideas for compelling content and new approaches for campaigns that will resonate with diverse audiences. Isn’t that one of the reasons we love marketing?
If you decide international content marketing is right for your business, make the most of the opportunities by putting in some groundwork:
- Research potential new markets using a PESTLE analysis.
- Adapt your approach according to local needs and expectations.
- Seek advice from a native speaker, ideally who also has experience in your industry.
- Dig beyond language differences: be sensitive to cultural considerations that could present both risks and opportunities.
Chloie Brandrick, Marketing & Content Executive, Click Consult
Tel: 0845 366 7586
Content by The Drum Network member:
Click Consult (Part of Ceuta Group)
Located in North West England, Click Consult is a multi award-winning digital and search marketing agency with a focus on organic (SEO) and paid search (PPC). Part of global consumer brand business Ceuta Group, we have a team of 70-plus specialists and a portfolio of more than 60 clients worldwide.Find out more