3 Translation Errors In Marketing – How To Avoid Them

Imagine you’re about to expand into an international market. You’re thinking about who your audience will be, how your product or service will be received, and who your competitors are.

And you’re also thinking about how you’re going to translate all of your existing content for your new audience, right? But where to start…

Enter marketing translation — the process of translating all your marketing content into the appropriate language for your target audience.

But marketing translation isn’t as easy as you might think. It requires knowledge of the marketplace, an understanding of the country’s culture, and an experienced linguist to translate the content effectively.

To give you a solid starting point, we’ve taken a look at some of the most common translation errors in marketing and how to avoid them. We’re also looking at how using a professional and experienced marketing translation company – like Verbika – can make the process a whole lot easier.

What can go wrong in marketing translation?

If you want to do marketing translation right, a lot of thought, research, and preparation is required. Not to mention, the input of a skilled and reliable translator to ensure your collateral is translated properly.

And because there’s so much to consider throughout the process, there are also a lot of things that can go wrong. Whether that’s failing to get your tone of voice across correctly, or completely misunderstanding some of the languages and not making any sense at all – the potential for error is pretty large.

So let’s take a look at the 3 most common ways marketing translation can go wrong – and how you can avoid making the same mistakes.

1. Don’t rely solely on free translation tools

Free translation tools – like Google Translate – shouldn’t be your sole source of translation when it comes to expanding internationally.

Don’t get us wrong, machine translation software has improved greatly since it was first developed, and can be a cost-effective tool for translating in bulk. But free tools are nowhere near the standard it needs to be for effective marketing translation.

One of the key elements of marketing translation is understanding the nuances of language. If you want your brand and tone of voice to be reflected in your translated content, you need someone who understands the local language, and who knows how to promote your brand voice and messaging in the right way.

Translating your content word-for-word with a free tool just won’t cut the mustard.

So our first piece of advice is not to rely solely on the powers of free translation tools.

We’re not saying you shouldn’t use machine translation at all. In fact, using machine translation alongside the knowledge and experience of a professional translator is a great way to speed things along.

So long as you have an experienced translator on hand for post-editing, you’ll be left with accurate content. But using it as your sole method of marketing translation, definitely not. You need human expertise to add nuance, tone of voice, and style to your content.

You can find out more about when to use machine translation in our blog: When Should You Use Machine Translation Services?


2. Be aware of the local culture

Understanding the culture of the country you’re expanding into is vital – especially when it comes to marketing translation.

Without an understanding of local customs and culture, you risk alienating your audience. Or at worst, offending them.

And that’s where localisation can help. With localisation, all of your branding, website content, imagery, and colour choices will be adapted with the country’s customs and culture in mind.

As we mention in our blog, Why localisation will drive global e-commerce growth:

‘[Growth in foreign markets] isn’t just about translating your website into multiple languages. It is about adapting your brand image and user experience entirely to fit the cultural norms of your target market.’
So to avoid any cultural faux pas, make sure you’re using a translator who has experience in the market you’re expanding into.

3. Paying pennies for marketing translation is never a good sign

We know – it’s tempting to keep costs down and opt for the cheapest translation option. Whether that’s using free software, or using an in-house team member who speaks another language.

But think about what this could mean for your business in the long-term.

Failing to get your marketing translation right could mean failing to expand internationally. All of the time and money you’ve invested in the expansion will have been a waste, and you’ll be right back where you started.

Investing in an expert marketing translation company will ensure that your collateral is translated exactly as it should be. It’ll make sure that the copy is localised, transcreated, and a true reflection of your brand.

So our third and final piece of advice is to make sure you’re using a reliable and experienced translation company – like VERBIKA.

Without a company that’s got a variety of in-country linguists to hand, your efforts to expand might be in vain.