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BizReport : Advertising : December 08, 2014

Does your marketing content speak to consumers in a language they understand?

Non-existent translation budgets are forcing the majority of marketers to address their audience in English despite nearly half of some customer bases being based outside the U.S., according to new findings released by translation technology firm Smartling.

by Helen Leggatt

In a survey of 160 US-based, senior level content marketers, Smartling discovered that many are missing out on communicating to those members of their audience whose first language is not English.

Almost two-thirds (63%) of respondents said that, while between 6% and 50% of their customer base is located outside the US, less than 5%, if any, of their budget is dedicated to reaching non-English-speaking customers both residing inside or outside the U.S.

In fact, 49% said they never translate their marketing into Spanish despite over 53 million, or 17%, of US residents being Hispanic. Just 10% frequently translate marketing content into Spanish and 41% said they only do so when time and budgets allow. Yet, according to Smartling, the estimated purchasing power of U.S.-based Hispanics was around $1.2 trillion in 2012 and, if the Hispanic market in the U.S. were a standalone country, it would among the top 20 in terms of its economy. Furthermore, U.S. Latinos accounted for 11% ($2.2 billion) of total ecommerce purchases made in the U.S. in Q1 of 2012 with more than three-quarters (78%) using the Internet as their main source of information.

According to Smartling's report 'Translate or Pay the Price', "despite recognizing that there is a large population of Spanish speakers in the U.S. and demonstrating awareness that a percentage of their company's customers come from outside the U.S., a majority of the marketing professionals surveyed stated that their companies have not dedicated the budget to reach non-English speaking customers in and outside the U.S. In fact, a majority are marketing to other countries with English-language content. Companies that fail to deliver multilingual content may be missing out on tremendous buying power. Companies that communicate with multilingual audiences in English only risk driving customers and prospects to competitors".

"Meanwhile, local competitors in those same countries are putting out messages directly in the preferred languages of the customer," said Nataly Kelly, VP of marketing at Smartling. "Marketers who do not prioritize the translation of their valuable content are at a great disadvantage when trying to do business globally. Translation and localization provide marketers with a cost-effective way to yield even greater ROI from the content they have already paid to develop in English. Study after study shows that consumers are significantly more likely to engage with and make purchases from companies that deliver content in their preferred language."

Image via Shutterstock

Tags: content marketing, language, translation

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  • Wilson Camelo

    Unless it is for forms or documents, marketing communication should not be translated. Latinos are not an ethnicity who thinks like Caucasians but speak Spanish. Culture is critical to purchasing decisions and marketing needs to be culturally-relevant and not just in Spanish. The better approach is transcreation, which incorporates the brand essence and messages in a way that is culturally-relevant. I appreciate that this study came from a translation company, but marketers will not advance their bottom line if the focus is on wording and not on relevance.

    Just like you don't market to a 12 year old girl the same way you would to her 70 year old grandmother just because they are the same race, gender, speak the same language, come from the same socio-economic level, etc., you have to modify your messaging to those that are from a different culture.

  • Steve

    There is a word for what you just said - localisation - which is translation that takes into account cultural aspects of any language or location aspects.



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