Inbound marketing involves getting potential customers to come to you. Consumers are no longer passive recipients of direct marketing messages (if they ever were).
Many people are becoming increasingly resistant to traditional "outbound" marketing techniques. Telemarketing, print and broadcast advertising, email shots, and other techniques are increasingly seen as unwanted intrusions to be avoided where possible – or simply ignored.
Inbound marketing works by providing quality content that people actually want to access and engage with. This may be in the form of website content, blogs, or social media posts.
The accessibility and global nature of the Internet opens up a host of opportunities to help you get found by whole new markets, but there are a number of issues when it comes to marketing your brand across different languages.
Identify Your Target Markets
English remains the single most widely used language online, according to the latest figures from Internet World Stats. It still only accounts for around a quarter of total usage however and has perhaps already come close to its saturation point.
The number of Arabic users, for example, has grown by a massive 2,501 percent since 2000, compared with just 301 percent for English language users. Additionally, many users speak English as a second language.
A recent study conducted across the European Union found that only 18 percent of users said they would make online purchases from a site that was not in their own native language.
A multilingual approach can clearly open up potential new markets that would otherwise be inaccessible. But targeting even a single new market can take a lot of effort.
Even if you consider your products or services to have truly global appeal, it can pay to concentrate your efforts.
Google Analytics will be able to give you an idea of how many foreign visitors your English language website already attracts. This could provide a starting point, but good market research should also be used to identify the best initial market(s) for your campaign.
Choose Relevant Keywords
You might not have to completely ditch your meticulously researched English language keywords, but you should only use them as a jumping off point for a brainstorming session – preferably in the company of a native-speaking translator. Straight dictionary translations of keywords might not always work particularly well as colloquialisms, abbreviations, and local variations can all be more effective.
A dictionary translation of "car insurance" into French, for example, gives the term "l’assurance automobile". This gives poor results in Google's keyword tools however, with "auto assurance" being far more effective.
Create and Optimize Content
Good quality content in inbound marketing terms provides good SEO while still being both engaging and accessible to your audience. Translation is important and the best way to achieve good results is to work with native-speaking translators.
Automatic translation programs such as Google Translate offer a cheap and easy alternative, but they have no awareness of context and are prone to mistakes. Using human translators will ensure fluent results, and cut the risk of errors or cultural faux pas.
Target the Right Search Engines and Social Media
Google is the single most widely used search engine worldwide by a huge margin. Depending on the market you're focusing on however, other local rivals can be just as important.
Baidu is the market leader in China for example, and effective SEO varies between Baidu and Google in several important ways:
- It's pretty much essential to have a Chinese top-level domain.
- Baidu places more importance on the quantity of inbound links, where Google focuses on the quality.
- Baidu loves metadata, while Google virtually ignores it these days.
Other popular search engines such as Yandex (Russia) and Naver (South Korea) will have their own quirks and peculiarities.
Similarly, Facebook is the number one social media site worldwide, but popular local platforms should also form a part of your social media plans.
In China (where both Facebook and Twitter are officially banned), Qzone rules the roost while VK (formerly Vkontakte) has a huge following in Russia.
There may also be industry-specific groups and forums operating in certain markets and it's usually a good idea to maintain a presence on every relevant platform, linking your profiles and posts.
Analyze and Fine-Tune Your Progress
Inbound marketing is an ongoing process and it’s important to analyze your performance. Keywords in particular can benefit from regular tweaking and simply changing a word or two can have dramatic result.
Fresh, updated content and posts can help boost your search engine rankings, and keep your visitors and customers engaged.
Building a returning audience takes time. Inbound marketing won’t deliver instant results, but it can be cost-effective way to boost sales and engage with customers across different language and cultures. And that can make it worth every last bit of extra effort.