How to create the best multilingual content marketing strategy
Table of contents
Define your core brand message
Decide on a digital marketing strategy
Create a content marketing strategy
Use data to guide your content marketing strategy
Setting SMART goals and monitor the results
Create a content calendar
Create high quality content
Search Engine Optimisation
Create a style guide
Create a content marketing workflow
Online tools to support your content marketing strategy
Multilingual content for international markets
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Creating a multilingual content marketing strategy is essential in today’s international marketplace. Developing a solid strategy and implementing it in other overseas markets, with the right language professionals, will ensure you build quality customer relationships, preserve your brand identity, reputation and achieve your business goals. This comprehensive guide shows you how to create your content marketing strategy from scratch and some best practice for implementing it in overseas markets.
How to create the best multilingual content marketing strategy
If you’re reading this, then you know you need a multilingual content marketing strategy, but maybe feel a little overwhelmed. To stay relevant in today’s bustling international marketplace, you have to earn consumers’ trust before they’ll buy from you. What’s more, you are also expected to provide a stream of valuable content right through their life cycle.
You’ll also know that selling your products or services to international markets also means providing this content in other languages. In fact, 75% of consumers prefer to buy products in their native language, according to “Can’t Read, Won’t Buy”, a report published in 2014 by Common Sense Advisory.
And we’re no longer talking TO them. The focus has shifted from business to consumer communication, to human to human engagement. You need to identify your consumers wants and needs, engage with them and offer solutions.
But how do you create a successful content marketing strategy that’s human, personalised and across numerous channels and different international markets?
This guide will take you through all the different aspects to consider to ensure that your content marketing efforts attract, win and retain customers, wherever they may be.
Define your core brand message
There’s little point in trying to conquer the world before you’ve got your own house in order. Before designing a content marketing strategy, you first need to define your core brand message, to ensure your communication is aligned in your first language. And when you’re ready to go overseas, this core message should be consistently ingrained in all your marketing communication.
Apple do this brilliantly in two words: think different. Their advertising campaigns speak of geniuses throughout history. People who thought differently, who fought against the current, influencing people and changing the world. Apple fulfills this brand promise through its innovative and revolutionary products.
Establish your brand voice
When we talk about a brand, many people think of design and logos. But there’s a lot more to it than that:
- Brand voice reflects your brand’s personality and purpose. It should shine through consistently in all your communications (for example, friendly, approachable and down-to-earth, or serious, professional and traditional. Your brand voice should never change, no matter who you’re writing for.
- Style is the way you convey your voice, the words you use (formal, slang, informal, etc)
- Tone of voice: the emotional inflection that’s suitable for each piece of communication (fun, helpful, warm, ironic, angry, etc). Your tone can change depending on which buyer persona you are writing for, or the topic you are writing about.
What makes you unique?
What sets you apart from your competitors? Think about why they should buy your product over someone else’s and use that in your brand messaging. Avis did a great job of doing exactly that with their slogan “We try harder.”
People love stories. Stories create a human connection based on empathy.
Every brand has a story, and stories help to align your business with your prospects and customers. But it’s not just about what you tell people on your website, social networks or blog. Stories are the core of your brand’s existence, your value and mission.
Stories are what make your audience remember you. So how do you tell your brand story?
As Simon Sinek explains in this video: “People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.” Let’s break it down into simple steps:
- Start with WHY you’re doing what you’re doing.
- Then explain HOW this will help your reader
- Finally, show them WHAT it is you’re offering.
You can tell your story in so many ways, and it should form the basis of all your content marketing efforts. It gives you the chance to consistently communicate your values, commitments and tell it in a way that your readers can relate to.
Harley-Davidson may have invented brand storytelling before it was even a thing. Now in it’s 116th year, the brand has earned its place in history. It has overcome challenges and turmoil to create a cult following of customers through its values of freedom, heritage, community and quality.
Buyer personas: know your audience
So, who are your customers? We can’t be all things to all people. The better we know our own customers, the more personalised a relationship we can create with them.
A buyer persona, or avatar, is a representation of your ideal customer, based on data you’ve collected about your existing customers. Your business may have more than one. Running shoes, for example, could easily be bought by both sports enthusiasts and the fashion-conscious.
There are some key characteristics to bear in mind when building your buyer personas. These include demographics, geographical location, behavioural patterns, motivations, goals, profession and salary. The more details you have, the more precise your buyer persona(s) will be.
HubSpot offers a great free tool to help you create your own buyer personas for your business. Here’s one I made earlier…
Once you’ve identified your buyer personas, you can start to segment them and provide content that directly addresses their problems and offers them solutions.
The buyer’s journey
Ok, so you’ve defined your brand voice and your buyer personas. But some of your target audience may already have bought from you. Others may not know too much about your brand. And there are those that may be undecided between your product and a competitor’s.
There are three main stages in the buyer’s journey: AWARENESS, CONSIDERATION AND DECISION.
What problems are your target clients looking to solve?
We are all looking for solutions to problems, and we would all be willing to buy from a brand that can solve them. The problems and queries of your audience will also be different, depending on where they are in the buyer’s journey.
But how do you know what your target clients’ problems are?
You already have an untapped goldmine of information among your existing clients. Ask them why they bought your product. Send them a questionnaire, or strike while the iron’s hot and ask them what made them buy it. Even better if you ask them what drove them to make that purchase, just after paying on your website.
Talk to your sales team and find out what the most common questions or doubts potential customers have. When you’ve discovered that key information about what your target audience is looking for, it’s much easier to create content that answers those questions and converts them into customers.
Decide on a digital marketing strategy
According to HubSpot, a digital marketing strategy is the series of actions that help you achieve your company goals through carefully selected online marketing channels. These channels include your company website, which should be linked to all the rest so that the leads you generate are driven towards the buy button.
Why do you need a digital marketing strategy?
There are many reasons why everyone needs a digital marketing plan. As customers move online in droves, so should companies who want them to buy their products. Online presence is a must and a digital strategy is essential to plan, measure and reach your goals.
How you select your channels depends largely on the nature of your business, your goals and your target audience. We have such a wide range of channels open to us, including your website, social media, apps, games, online messaging, email marketing, online advertising or events like webinars.
The digital landscape is constantly changing, especially with the growing influence of artificial intelligence and Blockchain. This topic is a world unto itself. I will, however, leave you with an excellent (but too big to include here) infographic by Business 2 Community that illustrates the digital marketing trends for 2020.
Essentially, you need to choose the digital strategy that makes more sense for your business and provide the kind of content that your audience responds to.
Create a content marketing strategy
A content marketing strategy is an essential plan for building relationships with your audience. You can do this through regular content that informs, educates, entertains or inspires your readers, and hopefully turn them into followers and customers.
Without a plan, you’ll end up posting random content without specific goals. Without goals, you’re unlikely to measure to see if you’ve actually achieved anything. In a nutshell, your efforts won’t produce any meaningful results.
Get your content priorities right. This is the advice of the Content Marketing Institute, who stated in an industry report for 2020 that 88% of top content marketing performers put audience needs over their own sales messages.
With a well-thought out content strategy you will provide value to your audience, be considered an expert in your field, generate leads and convert them into customers.
Firstly, do a content audit
A content audit means checking all the content you already have lurking on your website or in your archives. It will help you to get an overview of the kinds of content you have, what worked and what didn’t. It gives you a chance to judge whether contant that did work can be repurposed and re-used in another format or channel.
Take that eBook that worked well and turn it into a training course or webinar. Or how about vice-versa? That popular training video could serve as an informative blog post you can repurpose and repost.
By updating your existing content, for example with fresh information and optimising for SEO, you will already have some ammunition to build into your plan and boost your website traffic.
You’ll need a mix of content for your content marketing strategy. Different types of content serve different goals. Some attract new visitors, some help strengthen your relationships and others lead up to a sale.
What are the different types of content?
Content is still king. That said, it’s crucial that it’s of a high quality, well-written/scripted and translated by a professional who can adapt it to the target language (but more about that later). And it’ll work best when shared with the right people, on the right channel, at the right time.
There are many types of content that you can include in your content marketing strategy, which will help you engage with your audience:
– Lists such as “5 ways to improve your productivity” or “10 reasons why you need a cloud-based HR management software” work very well in getting readers to click.
– How-to blogs are also a great way of answering your readers’ questions and attracting traffic to your website
- Videos: this blog published by the Digital Marketing Institute reveals some eye-opening stats on video marketing: 90% of consumers claim that video helps them make purchasing decisions (Cisco).
- Interviews: with industry experts or your own customers can provide valuable informationto potential customers. They will also portray your brand as an authority in your field.
- Podcasts: easier to consume than video or text. People can listen while commuting, exercising and a whole range of other activities. They’re also free, easy to produce, build trust with your audience and help you gain more customers.
- Infographics: fun graphics that present stats or processes in an eye-catching and simple format. They make it easier to understand data and can help make your product more reputable.
- Case studies: give potential B2B clients real-life examples of your work and enable buyers to see the customer journey from start to finish.
- EBooks: long form content that provides valuable information for your potential clients. Ebooks are usually serve as an in-depth guide with multiple pages that can be downloaded as a useful resource, in one of various formats (Pdf, EPUB, AZW or ODF, for example). Downloadable content can be a great method of lead generation by requesting visitors’ email addresses in exchange for the download (gated content).
- User-generated content: possibly one of the most effective forms of social proof a brand could ask for. In fact, placing user-generated content on product pages, for example, can improve conversions by up to 64%.
- Checklists: show step-by-step methods for solving problems or simple ways to perform certain tasks. SEMrush produced a useful social media marketing checklist (below), also in the form of an infographic.
- Memes: use an image with culturally relevant text that can easily go viral online. By timing it well and aligning it to your social aesthetic, you can increase your traffic significantly.
- Testimonials and customer reviews: a staggering 82% of consumers agree that user-generated reviews make them feel more comfortable in buying the right product.
- Whitepapers: often confused with eBooks, whitepapers are long-form content but are more tightly packed with data and information. They are particularly useful during a potential client’s research phase in B2B marketing and can heavily influence the buying decision.
- Influencers: who represent your target market can have a highly beneficial effect on your marketing campaign. They endorse your products and can attract new audiences that you may not have previously been able to reach.
- Guest posts: guest blogging is a two-way street that benefits both the author and the hosting website. It helps attract traffic back to your website (via backlinks), boosts your domain authority, increase brand credibility and awareness and helps to construct peer relationships in your sector.
Use data to guide your content marketing strategy
We’ve never had so much data at our fingertips. With so much noise on the internet, we’ve got to make sure your content stands out in the crowd.
Just to give you an idea, every minute on social platforms:
- 100,000 tweets are made.
- 347 new blogs are posted on WordPress alone.
- 680,000 pieces of content are posted on Facebook.
Sadly, many companies simply do not make the most of the data available to them. Web tools like Google Analytics are often used in retrospect, to see how content performed after it has been published.
But by using data from our website traffic, blogs, social media channels, etc, we can use it to plan, create and promote content and get the best results. Data can:
- Provide insights into your target audience.
- Understand channel-specific preferences.
- See the best times to post specific types of content to specific target segments.
- Identify which content attracts sales.
- Reveal the most relevant topics to cover.
Setting SMART goals and monitoring results
Before you start to churn out content, it’s important to set goals for your content marketing strategy. First of all, ask yourself:
“Why am I creating this content, which market does it appeal to and what purpose will it serve?”
HubSpot defines SMART goals as concrete targets that you strive to achieve over a certain period of time. SMART is an acronym that stands for the essential characteristics of each goal:
For example, your goals could include building brand awareness, boosting search engine rankings, generating leads, or increasing customer loyalty.
It’s vital to set your goals based on your own metrics, and not industry averages. Establish Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and measure them to see whether your goals have been met.
When you have set your goals, according to content type, buyer persona and desired outcome, you can then create actionable content and using metrics to measure the results after the established timeframe.
For example, let’s imagine you want to increase website traffic from 2,000 to 2,200 next month (KPI of 10% increase) through a series of blog posts. There are a range of metrics that will help you gauge its success:
- Web page traffic metrics: include page views, traffic sources, bounce rate, referrals and keyword ranking. Combined, these metrics give you an overall view of how your content is performing, the best performing channels and whether your goals were met.
- Organic metrics: non-paid traffic to your website. Significant organic traffic is a great indicator of when a piece of content is performing well, and maybe you should consider boosting it with paid advertising.
- Referral traffic: this represents visitors who land on your website through backlinks or guest posts. You can track this kind of metric with the help of specialised software tools.
Whatever your goals are, each channel (social media channels, email software, etc) offers its own set of metrics and analytical dashboards.
Content marketing goals are generally set with a relatively short timeframe, after which you measure their success.
You can then adapt your strategy according to the outcome, tweaking your content strategy in tune with how your audience reacts.
Successful content can also be boosted or repurposed and used on another channel. For example, boost a successful blog post with paid advertising on Instagram or Facebook, or turn it into a video or webinar and use it in a newsletter or on your website.
Create a content calendar
Creating a content marketing strategy means planning your content in advance. It can seem like an intimidating task. But creating a content calendar doesn’t have to be complicated.
There’s plenty of data around to start planning your year ahead. Start with seasonal trends: Christmas, New Year, summer holidays, back to school, Mother’s Day, etc. There may be trends that are sector-specific, such as the travel industry’s peak holiday booking period that’s concentrated at the beginning of the year.
There may be key annual events you wish to promote or target. Include them in your calendar. Then there are your financial goals. Earmark key dates and create content campaigns to help you meet them.
Decide on how frequent you are going to publish on your blog, social media channels, newsletters, etc., and mark them accordingly.
All this gives you a skeleton to work with before you get down to the details of the content itself.
Consider which stage of the buyer’s journey a piece of content is intended for: awareness, consideration or decision? Then plan and organise your content into those categories.
Many companies use a simple Excel template to organise their content plan. Take a look at the simple example below:
Create high quality content
You’ve created your content marketing strategy. You’ve done your content planning. Now let’s look at the process of content creation itself. It’s vital to ensure that you produce high quality content that’s:
- Relevant and original.
- Offers your readers value.
- A good story.
- Well written/scripted and polished.
- Good quality visual content.
- Designed for social sharing.
- The right length, for the right channel.
- Ranks on search engines.
That seems like a lot of things to take care of, right? Here’s the thing. If you want your content to be read and your goals to be achieved, then it must be done well.
How? By creating a smooth content creation process with a team of experts in their subject matter.
“But my company is small, and I don’t have such a large team” you protest.
No problem. Choose specialised freelancers to complement your team as and when you need them. That way, you get the best quality content without having to pay full-time in-house staff.
Search Engine Optimisation
Globally, people carry out 2.2 million searches on Google any average day. That’s without counting searches on other major search engines around the world.
But what exactly is Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)?
According to Yoast SEO it’s “the practice of optimizing your web pages to make them reach a high position in the search results of Google or other search engines.”
Yoast, a company that provides a plugin you can add to optimise your website performance, take a holistic approach to SEO. They basically separate it into two categories:
On-page SEO factors: your page’s ranking is partly decided by what’s on your website pages. This includes technical aspects (code quality and site speed), content-related aspects like page structure, design and the quality of your website copy.
Off-page SEO factors: these include other websites, social media attention and other marketing activities outside your website. They can be difficult to influence, but the most important factors are the number and quality of links pointing towards your website.
Do keyword research
Before putting pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) to create your website copy, you need to identify the right keywords to include.
Keywords are the words that your potential customers are using when looking for a product like yours. If you have an online distance learning platform, you could start with researching keywords such as “online study” or “distance learning.”
Your target audience will determine which keywords you select. If you’re aiming at a general audience, then “best online courses” should suffice. However, if you’re aiming at business professionals, then perhaps “online courses for business” may attract a more specific audience.
Read more on keyword selection from the Search Engine Journal.
Long-tail keywords are becoming more important and more effective in attracting the right visitors to your website. For example, let’s extend the above keywords into “best online courses for business with certificates” and type this into on of the keyword search tools below. They will generate the results for this long-tail keyword and suggest others you can use in your content.
How do you discover the best keywords for your content?
Try some of the following websites to search for the right keywords for your content:
Where do you include these keywords?
Once you’ve identified them, your keywords should be included in the following areas of every piece of website content:
- Page titles
- Meta descriptions
- Content body
- Images (descriptions)
- Link anchor text
- Social media posts relating to the content
- Directories and external listings
Having said all this, please remember that your content must be well-written, a pleasure to read and flows naturally. Avoid keyword stuffing, or rather, publishing content that is full of keywords but poorly written and offering little value to the reader. You’ll be sorry, Google will penalise you for it.
Create a style guide
Any brand embarking on a content marketing strategy needs to ensure that the brand message and communication style is consistent across all channels, and in everything it publishes.
This applies just as much to design, colours and logos as it does to text. You want your readers or customers to instantly recognise your brand, every time.
A style guide is crucial when you have several collaborators on your content marketing team. It will provide clear guidelines so that your brand’s voice and personality are maintained throughout and consistent with your values. It may take some time to draw up, but your efforts will be rewarded with a consistently strong brand identity.
Your style guide will define your brand’s mission and voice.
It can contain, for example,
- Design and layout guidelines.
- Writing style and tone – how do you speak to your audience?
- Words to use (and not to use).
- Are emojis cool or not?
- Punctuation and grammar (is it acceptable to start a sentence with “and” or “but”?).
- Language variant (US or UK English, or European or Brazilian Portuguese?).
Create a content marketing workflow
Every piece of content must follow an established procedure to ensure it’s of the highest quality and that it gets published on time. It’ll also save you a ton of headaches, not ot mention having to rewrite or correct mistakes that slipped through the net.
A CoSchedule survey found that top marketers are organised and are 397% more likely to achieve successful outcomes.
Whether you’re creating blog posts, videos, social media posts or email marketing campaigns (or all of these), there are many different steps involved. By organising these steps, setting deadlines and ensuring it meets the brief, you stand a much higher chance of getting the results you want.
So, who completes which tasks, and in what order?
SEO content writer/copywriter
Once you’ve decided on the topic and you know the keywords you want to stand out, it’s time for your writer to work their magic.
You’ll often see the terms “SEO content writer” and “copywriter” associated with digital content. The two are often muddled, and it can be confusing, so what’s the difference?
They are both writing, but with different results.
SEO content writing: the creation of informative content aimed at increasing organic traffic to your website, increasing a website’s keyword ranking and in search engines, directing users to other pages, converting website visitors into buyers, subscribers or leads, etc
Copywriting: more sales orientated, aiming to convert traffic into leads and sales. Some examples are sales pages, advertising, slogans, brochures, product descriptions, etc.
Can copywriters also write SEO content? Normally, yes. But you should choose your writer based on the aim of your content and the results you desire. Most copywriters today work with content. On the other hand, SEO content writers may not be as skilled at more persuasive copywriting campaigns.
Anyway, for simplicity’s sake, I’ll refer to them as “writers” from now on.
Not many companies have in-house writers, but freelancers provide the perfect solution. Choose your writer well, someone who understands your brand, has experience in your sector and in SEO, you can enjoy the benefits from an ongoing collaboration. It’s the best recipe for consistently engaging, on-brand communication.
Creating a detailed brief for your writer is not only useful, it’s a must. The more information you give them, the more relevant, on-brand and successful their work will be. Who are they speaking to (target audience) and what problem is your product/service trying to solve? Send them your style guide, if you have one, or at least outline the style and tone of the piece in question. Provide other examples of your brand communication.
If you don’t have a brief, then good writers will ask you to discover this information for themselves.
Having said that, copywriting isn’t simply a question of churning out words in record time. First they will undertake research to gather material, links and facts for the article. Then they trace the outline, how the article will be structured. Now they’ll be able to start writing their first draft.
Most writers prefer to walk away from a text, sleep on it and edit their work next day. Make sure you give them enough time to do the best job possible.
The next, and extremely important step, is editing. Editors need to ensure that brand style is maintained and that the tone is suitable for a given piece of content. They’ll also look out for errors, problems with word choice or sentence structure, checking the format and improving flow, as well as spotting factual errors about your brand or its products.
But editors are not just “word people.” They should also have an eye for page design and ensure that the visuals compliment the text. Editors also make sure a piece of content is fit for the audience it’s intended for.
A proofreader only looks at the final draft and concentrates on grammar, punctuation, date and number formats, language variant and typos. Once again, they’ll also point out any style inconsistencies and will bring a pair of fresh eyes to the overall piece.
In reality, time and budget constraints mean that many writers proofread their own work. But we generally never see our own mistakes, and a second, new pair of eyes will always produce better work.
Photo selection and optimisation
Writers can also perform this task, depending on the agreement. Brands will often prefer to use their own photo bank, however, so you need to decide who’ll carry out this part of the process.
Photos also need to be optimised for your website, complete with image alt texts and descriptions to enhance your Google ranking.
You may well want to include specific graphics for the header and body of your blog, newsletter or social media post. This should generally follow a standard design template that identifies your brand in all your communication.
Nevertheless, attractive visual presentation is a vital factor in customer engagement. So whether you have an in-house designer to take care of this or leave it to a freelancer, it needs to be consistent and well done.
Uploading and scheduling
Once you have your copy and images ready, they then need to be uploaded to your website, email software or social media platform.
Website content also requires a series of other steps before you’re ready to press the “publish” button:
- Compression and optimisation of images and graphics (are they the right size and dimensions?).
- Upload images with alt text and descriptions to improve search ranking.
- Optimise text and meta description for SEO.
- Optimise tags.
- Schedule for publishing.
Similar processes can be set up for other types of content, such as video, webinars, podcasts, social media posts, etc. Each stage needs careful execution and tasks need to be delegated in the right order, to the right people and delivered on time.
Online tools to support your content marketing strategy
Content management tools
Every business needs a website and every website needs a robust content management system (CMS). It’s the basis of any successful content marketing strategy.
There are some superb website creation tools on the market, check out TechRadar’s article on the Best CMS of 2020 to help you decide which one’s best for you.
In a nutshell, here are the most important features that marketers should look for when deciding which CMS is best:
- A powerful, flexible editor that enables you to easily create pages, edit existing ones and add features.
- The possibility to test different pages, headlines, layouts and outcomes is important when maximising results of your campaigns.
- Collaboration options for teams working on your website and the ability to set access permissions.
- Access to support services, if you haven’t hired a developer, is extremely useful to help you solve issues, fast.
- Integration with the rest of your tools, such as your mailing tool, sales tool, eCommerce, or opt for an all-in-one-solution like HubSpot, for example.
- Supports multiple languages: use multilingual plug-ins that enable you to host your web content in several languages. WPML for WordPress, for example, enables you to give translators back-end access to work on newly published content, with an easy workflow dashboard. It also allows you to use machine translation instead, but we all know that this is business suicide, don’t we?
Content creation tools
If you’re feeling overwhelmed at the thought of creating all this content, help is at hand! There are numerous tools that can make executing your multilingual content marketing strategy easier, so let’s look at just a few of them:
Tools for content ideas
- Google Alerts: Inspiration in your inbox. Sign up to receive regular alerts on topics that matter the most and get ideas for relevant and timely content.
- Google Trends: analyse the popularity of search terms across languages, regions and timeframes to help you spot relevant topics.
- Scoop.it: Lets you monitor sources globally for content you can share with your team, followers or clients.
- Feedly: this handy app enables you to filter the RSS feeds of your favourite websites and complies them in a list for you.
Tools for creating images
- Canva: Canva enables you to create custom images and store brand logos and colours in dedicated albums. You can also customise your creations to instantly upload on social networks.
- Bannersnack: Need to make a quick, snappy banner? This drag and drop software allows you to add images, buttons, clipart, etc to create static, animated or interactive web banners, and includes stock photos.
Video creation tools
- Biteable: This freemium video creation tool enables you to create professional HDTV-quality videos. The free version allows for 5 video packages per month and 1 GB of storage. Upgrade available.
- Renderforest: A cloud-based software that not only helps you create video, but also slideshows, infographic animations and music visuals. You can also create logos and build websites with the benefit of having their design support team on hand.
Hashtag research tools
- Socialbakers: helps you keep track of the hashtags relevant to your audience, sector and clients. It also enables you to keep track of mentions and important topics, sentiment analysis and a free hashtag research tool for influencers.
- Hashtagify: A user-friendly interface that allows you to search the hashtags you’re interested in, including spelling variants in different countries where it’s used.
- Bitly: one of the most well-known tools that reduces long and confusing links for sharing across your channels. Upgrade to the enterprise version for more features like branded links, added keywords and campaign trackers.
- Rebrandly: Especially for businesses, Rebrandly enables you to create branded links with custom domains and campaign trackers. As it allows several users, your team can make the most of it too.
- Bl.ink: Not only does this shorten links but it also analyses your content to create smart links that improve your click-through rate.
Project management tools
Considering the different stages that go into creating content, organisation is key to ensuring that your team know their roles, the details and their deadlines. Choose from a range of collaborative tools that will streamline your process and ensure that your content is fit for publishing, on time.
- Trello: a basic collaboration tool based on cards (imitating post-it notes) for each project. You can attach lists or files and assign them to your team. The cards can then be dragged to different stages until the project has been completed. Good for small teams with few simultaneous projects.
- Asana: a more rounded project management tool, Asana offers inbuilt functionality for creating, labelling, identifying and assigning tasks. It also offers reports, sends notifications and a project page for al relevant information. It enables you to create a column for each stage of the project, store details, links, contacts of those involved and threads for project discussions.
- Slack: allows you to send direct messages and files to a single person or group, organise conversations into different channels, projects, topics, etc. It also offers video conferencing which is especially useful if you have a remote team.
- Microsoft Teams: part of Office 365 for Business and it therefore offers a complete suite of apps that include all the usual Office package features plus video conferencing, screen sharing, OneDrive, SharePoint and free messaging. Plans and prices vary, as does cloud storage per user, depending on how much you pay.
Social media management tools
Many mailing and social media platforms allow you to schedule your posts in advance. But doing this on a post-by-post basis can take too much time and is often based on guesswork.
By using a social media management tool, you can schedule your posts for specific days and times, depending on when your audience is most active. They also come with analytical tools to help you understand your engagement metrics.
These platforms enable you to create your own dashboard so that you can see all your channels at a glance, respond to messages, monitor performance against your KPIs.
Let’s take a quick look at some of the best social media management tools around:
- HootSuite: enables you to schedule posts across multiple channels, search for brand mentions, insights and demographic information. It offers analytics for performance tracking as well as several integrations (with Asana, Slack, Mailchimp, Trello, etc).
- Hubspot Social Media: this suite of social media management tools is part of HubSpot’s wider all-in-one platform for sales, marketing and CMS, with which it can also be integrated. Unlike HootSuite, it also offers Instagram scheduling. Its analytics feature also converts your engagement levels into actual business metrics, making life easier when calculating your ROI.
- Sprout Social: a one-stop-shop for managing and scheduling all your social media accounts. It’s user friendly, has powerful data analysis features that help you monitor your ROI. Sprout Social also allows you to send direct messages to others in your organisation who need to action them.
- Buffer: Similar to Sprout Social, but even more easy to use as well as giving you flexibility. It provides real-time analytics so you can see how your content is doing right now, at a glance. Free plans available for solo entrepreneurs.
Not all of the above tools allow advance scheduling for Instagram. Try Later, an indepedent app that specialises in this channel.
Multilingual content for international markets
So now that you’ve cracked your content marketing strategy on home turf, with a portfolio of high-quality content at your disposal, it’s time to implement it in different languages.
Let’s be clear about one thing, please don’t use Google Translate! Automatic translation is simply not good enough as a way of speaking to existing or potential clients. In fact, you’ll probably lose more clients than you’ll gain.
Localise and research your keywords
Localise your keywords and SEO efforts in target markets. Machine translation performs badly when detecting the context of a word in another language. Keywords will vary from country to country so should be researched separately for each market. Consumers who have different languages and culture systems will also have different search behaviour.
Use Google’s Keyword Planner to identify search query volumes in 100 countries and a choice of 40 languages.
Not everyone in the world uses Google to search on the internet. The most popular search engine in China is Baidu, and in Russia, you’ll find Yandex dominates the market.
Create style guides for every language
Make sure you also provide your international content marketing collaborators with a style guide adapted to their language. This will involve some initial research into the target language, in order to establish your equivalent brand voice. Even better, ask your multilingual writer to help you develop one.
Form a multilingual content marketing team
If you’re aiming to produce consistent high-quality content in several languages, then you’ll need to form a multilingual content marketing team. This can include writers, translators, or both,
Not all companies can afford or want to hire an entire permanent team for this. The good news is that there are specialised remote freelancers on hand to help.
Find a freelancer you identify with. Someone who shares your values and understands your brand. Build an ongoing relationship with them to guarantee consistency. This is a win-win situation for both sides.
Integrate your linguists into your content creation workflow
Earlier in this guide we looked at creating a content creation workflow. You can slot your multilingual collaborators into your workflow easily, which will ensure that you publish the same content in different languages at the same time. This will not only save you time in organisation, but will also ensure your campaigns are effective across borders.
Copy and content writers
As a possible alternative to translators, writers can also be a valuable part of your multilingual content marketing strategy. You can hire writers in the target market who have in-depth knowledge of the language, your sector and the cultural and social norms.
You should also consider that you target audience in another country may have different problems, pain points and desires. This means your message needs to be adapted to attract and engage them. Writers based in the target country are well-placed to discover what makes your target audience tick, and the special circumstances that affect them (seasons, religious holidays, culture and customs).
Ideally your writer will speak the source language, otherwise you must provide them with a watertight brief. Your best option will always be someone who understand the original message, or in other words, a multilingual writer.
Choose native-speaking translators specialised in your sector
If you do choose to translate your marketing content, choose professional translators who only translate into their native language. This is fundamental, as it’s the only way you can guarantee a natural, flowing text that your audience will resonate with.
Don’t be tempted to use someone you know, or who works in the office, to write content that isn’t in their native language. Even if they speak the language well. Your readers will notice the difference, grammatical mistakes will jump off the page and unnatural sounding phrases will sting their ears. They’ll bounce away from your website in seconds. At least let a native-speaking reviewer or editor check the text first.
It’s also important to choose a professional translator specialised in your sector. Professionals who have a specific qualification relating to your industry or have worked directly in your sector for years will ensure your terminology is correct and know exactly how to speak to your audience.
The language you use reflects your brand voice, reputation and gives a perception of quality that customers will associate with your brand. Don’t screw it up. Craft your words wisely or leave it to the professionals, even better if they also offer transcreation.
Translation or transcreation: what’s the difference?
You may have heard of “transcreation.” It’s a relatively new term in marketing circles, but what exactly is it? Let’s compare translation and transcreation to differentiate one from the other:
Translation: transforming a text from one language into another, ensuring the following aspects are maintained:
- Grammatical accuracy.
- Use of technical terminology.
- Stay faithful to the source text – to say exactly the same thing in another language.
Transcreation: is recommended for creative communication, such as marketing a product or service to international audiences. It takes the concept of a message in one language and completely recreates it for another.
Why? Because different international audiences have different cultural, social, religious and linguistic beliefs and behaviour. A direct translation of your message in one language could be offensive or embarrasing in a different country.
This advert for KFC in China illustrates this fabulously. No further comments.
Transcreators are fluent in the source language with creative writing skills, and will:
- Transform the intent of the original message and reformulate it into another language.
- Ensure that the target text is appropriate for the target culture.
- Make sure readers of the target language feel the same emotions as readers of the original message.
- Maintain the campaign message and tone, as well as the brand’s style and values.
Computer Aided Translation tools (CAT tools)
- Most professional translators and transcreators invest in CAT tools to support their work. They enable translators to work faster and maintain consistency of terminology in all your company communication, with the help of translation memories and term bases. CAT tools also offer excellent review functions that spot grammatical, numerical and formatting mistakes.
- CAT tools also work with a range of files and deliver them in same format. Some of them work with InDesign, which is a huge help for marketing departments. The translator can import an original InDesign file, translate the text sections only, export it and send it back to you in the same format. This saves both you and your design team precious time.
Localise your content and marketing campaigns
Making content readable in another language and ensuring it has no typos doesn’t mean it’s going to resonate with the target audience.
Localise your content and tailor your campaigns to each market, and their culture, needs and preferences.
Example: McDonalds is the world’s largest restaurant chain and an expert in localising their product offering and marketing campaigns:
- In Germany: they offer Nürnberger sausages with beef, as well as serving beer in their outlets (as Germans LOVE beer).
- In Morroco: they offer a special meal for the end of Ramadan, called “f’tor”, which includes a Big Mac, milk, dates and traditional Moroccan soup.
- In Japan, as well as offering localised products and smaller portions (as the Japanese prefer), the brand even adjusts its name for katakana (used for foreign words), by using the name Makudonarudo.
After reading this guide, you’ll hopefully have a much better idea of how to approach your multilingual content marketing strategy. From defining your brand voice and identifying your ideal customer, to creating the right content at the right time, and adapting it to overseas markets.
If you’d like to talk to me about your content marketing strategy and your specific needs, drop me a line.
I’d be happy to help.