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How to take an evidence-based approach to global marketing, from social media to translation

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Global marketing is a huge topic. It involves fierce competition from companies with huge budgets. Of course, it’s not always the size of your budget that matters but how you spend it. Take an evidence-based approach to global marketing, researching everything from social media strategies to professional translation services, and you’ll be in the best possible position to succeed. In this article, we’ll run through the difference between globalization and internationalization, define internationalization, and look at some examples of internationalization to get you started.

The difference between globalization and internationalization

The difference between globalization and internationalization is an important one. What are some examples of globalization? Globalization can be seen all around us. From trade and communication across international borders to the movement of people, both for leisure purposes and permanent relocations. Then there’s the globalization of media, entertainment, culture, and much more.

What is the meaning of internationalization? We can define internationalization as “the action or process of making something international.” With companies around the world looking to sell to global audiences, the internationalization business is booming. Speaking of the difference between globalization and internationalization, Tomedes CEO and owner Ofer Tirosh say that globalization is more about the overall process that companies use to start building their brand or their operations for the global stage. Internationalization, meanwhile, refers to the practical steps that they take to achieve that, ensuring goods and services appeal to as wide an audience as possible.

Internationalization or localization?

To internationalize or to localize, that is the question. The thing is, internationalization and localization go hand-in-hand. When you internationalize, you have to localize. But before you localize, you have to internationalize. You might be thinking, huh? Okay, here’s an analogy: in application coding, modern programming platforms all support internationalization, often abbreviated as i18N in the coding world.

i18N is the standard procedure of preparing products that are to be sent to other countries. Since the products are going to other countries (internationalization), the procedure involves receiving varied forms of data and processing it to match the “local culture”, so to speak (localization). This process does not only involve language translation, but allows for easy localization of products to fit different target audiences.

According to the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), i18N enables code “to support local, regional, language, or culturally related preferences.” In other words, your products and/or services must appeal to an international audience, but your marketing strategies must be localized.

So if you want to appeal to a global audience, you’ll need to translate your website into multiple languages. To do this, you’ll need to understand not just the difference between globalization and internationalization, but the difference between localization, globalization, and internationalization.

What is the difference between them? Well, the first two we’ve covered above. Localization, meanwhile, is the process of making a website suit the cultural expectations of a new audience. Global marketing is about so much more than undertaking (for example) English to Spanish translation and simply sitting back and waiting for Spanish custom to roll in. Instead, you need to focus the site on the audience in question.

There’s a famous example from the California Milk Processor Board’s advertising campaign – those “Got Milk?” ads. They went down a storm in the US, but a lack of localization left Latina customers wondering quite why the California Milk Processor Board wanted to know, “Are you lactating?”

Few examples of localization so clearly highlight the value of shaping your marketing materials to your intended audience.

When it comes to taking an evidence-based approach to using professional translation services to turn your website into a global marketing tool, research first which languages you’ll need. This will depend hugely on what you’re selling. If you’re in the business of UK penny stocks, for example, you might start by typing translation agency UK into your search engine. Your approach will be vastly different from that of (say) a company selling luxury handbags.

If you’re in the luxury goods sector, by the way, a large part of your sales business and associated marketing will likely focus on China. McKinsey reports that China was responsible for over half of the global growth in luxury spending between 2012 and 2018. That figure is expected to reach 65% by 2025 when it comes to the world’s additional spending. Time to find professional translation services specialising in Mandarin.

Global marketing and social media

Internationalization comes into play in a major way when it comes to social media. Over half the world uses social media sites nowadays. Your social posts can spread around the globe in seconds, so they have to be spot on. But again, the research begins long before you write a single post.

Which demographics are you targeting? This can make a significant difference to which sites you should target your marketing spend. There’s a wealth of evidence out there about social media usage by age, by gender, by nationality, and so on. Build this knowledge into your global marketing strategy long before you start working out how to internationalize your messaging.

When the time does come to start internationalizing your messages, be sure to work with professional translation services that specialise in social media. Social networks use a language and tone all of their own and you’ll need specialists to help you navigate cultural pitfalls as well as linguistic ones.

Exploring other global marketing channels

We’ve used the website and social media examples to show the importance of building your strategy around evidence of what works. A global marketing campaign will, of course, encompass many more forms of marketing, from email marketing to content marketing – which itself can include everything from news review blog posts to expert opinion pieces published on others’ sites. Each of these is a huge topic in itself.

Each approach has plenty of examples of internationalization and statistics that you can use as evidence to inform your strategy. Doing so will ensure you take a robust approach to global marketing that maximises your chances of success in capturing the attention of international audiences for all the right reasons.

Andrew Mcaffrey
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