How to get your marketing content translated

Each type of translation has its own specificities. Marketing translation is no exception to this rule. Perhaps you don’t know where to start in getting your marketing documents translated? We are here to help!

Work with your linguistic service providers to define your personas.

What is one of the key challenges in marketing translation? Cultural adaptation. This is why it is essential that you define personas for each target culture. Are you unsure of what a persona is? A persona represents your ideal customer, the one who will buy your product or service. To convert your leads, you first need to understand who they are, what they need and how they behave. Defining your personas is the same as defining your target audience in order to improve your marketing strategy. You have probably already carried out this process in your main target country while establishing your content strategy. You will also need to go through the process for all of the cultures your campaign targets. Is your persona in the same age group in all of your target markets? Do they have the same purchasing habits? While you will need to figure this out, we promise we can help!

Remember to adapt your SEO strategy

You are trying to adapt your campaign to your audience’s culture. You will also need to adapt your organic SEO strategy. Indeed, if you target your content to specific requests, you will get better qualified traffic and a higher conversion rate. To optimise your international digital strategy, don’t stop at translating your documents and keywords! You will need to fully reassess your approach for each target culture, based on the most widely used search engines, local high-traffic websites, social media trends, etc. You should also examine your competitors’ strategies and learn from them. Consider working with a professional who can analyse your competitors’ websites, recommend the most relevant keywords, and support you throughout the process. This step, just like the previous one, is necessary in laying the foundation for an effective content strategy.

Why not take the leap and try transcreation?

If your content has many specificities (e.g. advertising campaign or slogan), transcreation can be a judicious option. What exactly is transcreation, and how does it differ from marketing translation, with which it is often confused? It’s a creative and adaptive writing process specific to the field of marketing. Its name is a mashup of ‘translation’ and ‘creation’. It involves leaving the source behind entirely in order to present the brand’s message as if it were originally written in the target language. To give you a simple and evocative example: you have probably seen bottles of Coca-Cola with first names written on them as part of the brand’s personalised marketing campaign. Of course, these names cannot possibly be the same in every country where the drink is sold. In France, the names chosen for the campaign were the most popular names among people aged 15–29 based on the national institute of statistics. This campaign may seem simple, but clearly required advance work for each target culture. Transcreation follows a fairly standardised process: the client provides a brief with brand information, values, tone and emotions to be communicated. The translator, in this case with strong copywriting skills, then fills out a document with several options. They then provide a back translation of each of the options, which means that they translate their proposals back into the source language, and then they explain their decisions with comments. Why? This provides the client with the information they need to make a decision.

The specificities of transcreation do make it more expensive than a straightforward translation, but you will be more relevant to your target audience and you can be sure that you are communicating the desired message in the right tone. However, if a cultural difference is identified, you would be advised to rewrite your message entirely rather than translate it, in order to better suit your target’s specificities. There can sometimes be a fine line between misunderstanding, faux pas or even insult.

Avoid the pitfalls of poor marketing translation

All of these efforts are well worth the cost! And a poor marketing translation can be a very expensive mistake. For starters, think about the constraints that have an impact on the formatting of your documentation, such as character limitations. The expansion ratio between two languages can mean a translation may be longer than its source text. How is the expansion ratio calculated? It is the difference between the volume of the source text and its translation. For instance, the French translation of an English source text is usually about 20% longer. Keep this in mind so you won’t have to make readability concessions! You should also adapt your images and other visual media to your target audience. An example of this that we recently encountered at Version Internationale involved a campaign that included nudity. After checking with our partners, we reached the conclusion that these images would not go over well in every country, and we informed our client of this fact. Another example of the importance of transcreation: a poor slogan can be disastrous. The HSBC bank learned this at its own expense in 2009. Its slogan was ‘Assume nothing’, but the message was rendered as ‘Do nothing’ in several countries. The company had to take responsibility for its mistake, which lost it no less than 10 million dollars.


These days, if you want to keep a step ahead of your competitors, you need to follow strict copywriting codes for your marketing documentation. Translating marketing content requires the ability to adapt the message to the brand’s audience in the correct tone while communicating its intentions. So consider working alongside a trusted partner to deploy your large-scale campaigns while steering clear of the bumps in the road!


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