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Many marketers have embraced the motto Think Global, Act Local in their efforts to reach the remotest corners of an increasingly globalized world. Are you one of them? If so, you're on the right track.

With the exponential rise of the multilingual Web in recent years, that strategy is more timely and effective than ever. Numerous businesses have experienced massive growth as a result of something as simple as... Web optimization.

For example, JRS Consulting, a marketing and management consulting company, had an impressive 95% ROI on its painstakingly localized French website, and 15% of its revenue now comes from France.

And Skyscanner, an airline flight price-comparison website, turned truly global after localizing its website into 23 languages. The overseas markets now account for 70% of the site's revenue. The Russian version of the site was received with such enthusiasm that the number of its users rose from 30,000 to 1 million in 18 months.

Multilingual digital marketing is the perfect way for small-to-medium enterprises (SMEs) to maximize their profit and achieve considerable search engine prominence while minimizing costs.

Most online searches are carried out in languages other than English, and the use of Arabic, Chinese, and Spanish, is rapidly increasing. The Web is no longer English-centric. Global consumer demand for website localization has grown, too: 85% of online buyers now require information in their own language. A 2010 Internet World Stats report found that Arabic online use increased a whopping 2,500% over the previous 10 years.

And last year's introduction of URLs with non-Latin characters opened the Internet to an even more diverse global community.

Naturally, since foreign-language search engine optimization (SEO) is a relatively recent phenomenon, businesses find it easier and cheaper to achieve search-engine prominence in foreign language searches rather than the heavily saturated English Web. And don't underestimate being at the top of the search rankings in any language; Chitika Research reported that 35% of all traffic goes to the much-coveted Top 1 Google search spot (double the traffic of the second-ranked website).

With the multilingual Internet promising to grow, the returns that SMEs can expect in the foreseeable future look promising. Though the process appears easy and straightforward, it's not.

Here are five tips for tapping into global digital marketing trends and catering to different local consumer needs.

1. Know the target culture

You might translate a website but still fail to fully address the consumer needs of the target market. The key to effective foreign-language Internet marketing lies in making the Web content relevant to the target culture by taking into account culturally determined consumer behavior.

You must have an awareness of the cultural norms, which you can only achieve by making an effort to get to know the target country and its people. Your best bet would be to hire a professional in-country translator who would understand linguistic and cultural subtleties, and so nip any cultural faux pas in the bud.

2. Do as the Romans do

Optimize your presence in accordance with local online behavior. Start by choosing the appropriate search engine. Google is not the dominant search engine in all countries; some markets rely on smaller, regional websites to look for local information.

Also, to reap the maximum benefits of foreign-language marketing, ensure that the keywords selected to market your brand online are close to the ones locals would use.

3. Keep it fresh

The more often you update your site, the greater search-engine prominence it'll attain. Speed and presentation are key to effective e-marketing, so make sure the content is delivered in an appealing, easy-to-read manner. Nothing will attract a customer more than a website that loads quickly and offers fresh, concise, and error-free content.

4. Be color-savvy

Take careful consideration when optimizing your Web design for different countries. Colors have different connotations across cultures. One community may find a color scheme appealing, and another one could see it as off-putting, even offensive. White, for instance, is considered quite safe and neutral in many Western countries, but some Eastern cultures associated it with death.

5. Go social

It's no secret that social media is one of the most effective marketing tools and an excellent way for businesses to reach multilingual audiences.

Facebook, for example, allows the creation of a brand page with the bonus of optimizing your updates according to language and location. To make the most out of Twitter, create multiple accounts and target each market individually in its respective language. And considering the impressive early adoption of Google+, there could be yet another social media platform for brands to look out for.

* * *

Marketers and brands cannot afford to ignore multilingual marketing much longer. With a bit of research into local spending and online habits, a well-conceived marketing strategy, and a pinch of cultural awareness, you can soon be on the crest of the e-commerce wave.

(Image courtesy of Bigstock, Beautiful Girl.)

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Christian Arno is the founder and managing director of Lingo24, a leading translation, website localization, and Internet marketing provider. Follow Christian on Twitter: @l24ca.

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