We live in an age where search entries can break down cultural and geographical boundaries, and businesses are often the catalyst for forging such connections. As we approach spring, the global search climate is getting hotter than ever: are you ready for the oncoming heatwave?
Here are some figures that may startle you. Last year the Content Marketing Institute reported that less than six per cent of the world’s population speak good-enough English to carry out business in this language. Brazil and Germany lead the way for webmail email open rates. The majority of the 2.5 billion international domain names are not native English. China’s online population now exceeds 347 million.
We have previously stressed the importance of multilingual content, but this should just be a minor point in a wider internationally-focused content strategy. The web is part of the world, and not just the web, at the end of the day, and many marketers continue to remain unprepared to cater their content for a global audience. Pandas, penguins and hummingbirds aside, if you want your tiger’s roar to be heard across the world, global strategies are key.
So what to consider?
Naturally, businesses will run to Google Translate to reach a larger audience, but this is the biggest pitfall companies face. By merely translating your landing pages and news stories, you are refusing to acknowledge cultural sensitivities, colloquialisms, different senses of humour and a focus on local points of view. For example, the colour white may suggest hope and peace in the West, but it is associated with death in China.
By not considering the likes of superstitions and holidays, there is a suddenly a chunk of your audience being alienated. Understand your local audience, research their needs and keywords, and analyse what the competition is doing. We appreciate that this can be a daunting prospect for businesses, and is probably what has held you back in the past, but this is a serious revenue growth market worth tapping into.
Simultaneously, localising something that currently works for your business model is not necessarily the greatest idea. No single concept is going to be universally relevant and a certain level of cognitive bias will always be involved. So, you are screaming: What’s the answer? Well, idea generation for content strategies must include an international team; experts with experience from multiple regions. This does not mean gaining an ambassador for every single country, but think regionally and recruit from there. While initial investment is required for this, you will be surprised at the impact this will have on content ideas.
The same needs to be said about techies, who will also need to think about technological tools and local regulations. An international brand needs to have an accompanying international tech team to choose the right technology and set the metrics so search performance can be managed across different regions, while there are also tighter regulations you may encounter in the likes of China and Russia – a rule of thumb: always consider universality.