Guide to Multilingual Marketing Online – Why Translation Apps are Not Enough
Guide to Multilingual Marketing Online – Why Translation Apps are Not Enough
Machine translations and other translation apps are increasingly popular, and over the course of time, have even been dramatically improved. Still, even if there was an app that could provide a perfect translation every time, would it be right for your online marketing campaign? Would it provide you with the tools that you need to succeed in a digital world full of global citizens? Regrettably, at this stage of development in the technological revolution, the answer is undoubtedly “no”.
But why? And how does this impact your online marketing campaign directly?
The Truth About Translation Apps and Localization
Language is often very subtle and nuanced. There are many forms of speech, common expressions and other vernacular that is highly specific in nature. In some cases these localized linguistic variations are based within certain geographic areas. In some cases, the unique nature of vocabulary is based on age or generational in nature.
In still other areas, there are cultural and historical references behind words, some of which convey great pride and others that are seen as moments of great mourning, even when celebrated in song. All of these are more generally classified as part of linguistic localization. While there are in fact some excellent translation apps that are readily available on the market these days, the fact remains that very few will be able to handle any large-scale localization of language.
In terms of marketing, this challenge is even more notable given the specific nature of effective language in marketing strategies. The language of marketing is designed to elicit an emotional response from the reader in order to generate the desired reaction.
Even the best of translation apps that do allow for PEMT or post edited machine translations tend to charge monthly fees or otherwise use ongoing charges. One of the best options for such efforts is to seek out a translation company that also specializes in localization services. In this way there is a guarantee for the translation services and you can be assured that there is not only an accurate translation of the literal languages, but also a more comprehensive translation of the contextual meaning of the message being conveyed in the translation. All of these factors together are exceptionally important in terms of SEO and determining what will work more effectively to enhance the digital marketing campaign, none of which is possible with most translation apps.
Translation Apps, Digital Marketing and SEO
One of the biggest problems with most translation apps is the inability to create permanent pages in foreign languages that can be indexed by the search engines. In cases where it is not viable to find a translation agency to do the work, there is still something to be said for the use of translation apps that are designed more specifically as CAT or computer assisted translation apps.
CAT type translation apps are probably best suited for someone that already has at least some understanding of both languages for the translation and who is familiar enough to recognize grammatical errors or even areas where a literal translation has convoluted the message being translated. Computer assisted translations will also provide the marketer with the means to hire someone else to do the post editing for the machine translation, again helping to reduce the potential for translation errors.
Translation apps, plugins and extensions for website design may seem like a great solution, as all the viewers need to do ostensibly is to click a single button and have the website instantly translated to whatever languages are supported. However, if there are no permanent web pages in the desired languages for the search engines to index, how are the foreign language speakers supposed to find the website to begin with?
Anyone who speaks more than one language is probably going to verify that they do not conduct a search in English in order to find websites in French or Portuguese or any other language translation. If there is not a sufficient amount of information available in the foreign languages in any format, it will not be indexed or displayed on the foreign language search engine results page.
The Need for Translation Apps on the Internet
There is some very interesting data revealed by The Hill website, and if we trace those down to the referenced sources of the article, it reveals much more about the need for translation apps and multilingual efforts online. The general focus at The Hill are focused primarily on endangered languages, but a little dig reveals the real need for translation apps in the modern day and age.
While there are over 7000 languages in the world, there are scant few represented online. There are in fact only eleven languages online that represent more than one percent of internet content. Nearly one-half of all of the web content is in English.
Conversely, there are some eighty-five languages with ten million or more native speakers. There are around 23 languages that have more than fifty million native speakers. It has already been determined that there are only eleven languages comprising more than one percent of internet content each.
This means that a simple translation can put websites, products, services, videos and other internet content in front of literally tens of millions of viewers that have very little direct competition, have substantially fewer options for online purchases and who are by all rights, a very hungry and eager market online.
Regardless of the translation apps in use, this will require a full, multilingual approach to the marketing campaign. After this, some helpful guidelines for selecting the translation apps available will be considered for creating a successful multilingual marketing campaign online.
A Complete Guide to Translation Apps and Successful Multilingual Marketing
In order to create a successful multilingual digital marketing online, it is important that all of the materials being used are translated and localization strategies implemented for the target markets.
There are going to be numerous options as has already been demonstrated. Perhaps it will be better to use a translation company that specializes in localization, some people may wish to use computer assisted translation apps, and some may be satisfied with the more traditional translation apps readily available online. The needs of the individual will vary depending on their resources available, the purpose of their marketing efforts and the desired results.
The savvy marketer will benefit more from a full website translation service as this will ensure that all of the material on the website is available for the target audience and expanded international markets. It will also make the website more visible to the foreign-language audience as even searches in their native language should provide more positive results.
A complete website translation should also generate a sufficient foundation for the purpose of multipurposing all the marketing materials online. The translated marketing content can then be used for creating slideshows, promotional videos and in other media formats.
Promotional video marketing is especially important in regards to multilingual marketing online, and there are numerous translation apps that may or may not be beneficial to the process. Even YouTube offers content creators the option of automatically generating closed caption files but their automated closed captions are widely held to be less than ideal.
Many video editing programs also allow for the inclusion of subtitles but this is definitely not a preferred option. The subtitles are hard coded into the video, only available in a single language and are not indexed or even seen by the search engines.
Video translation can be used to create srt or closed caption files for the promotional videos and will be indexed by the search engine. The video translation can be used to ensure that not only does the video rank well for far more keywords, but also that it ranks better on the foreign language search engine results page.
As an added bonus, those promotional videos that use srt files will also see improved placement on the YouTube search engine, which competes with Amazon, each moving back and forth as the second or third most popular search engine online, the pair falling behind only Google in terms of search volume. The srt files or video transcription also ensure that the promotional videos are far more likely to show up in the YouTube recommended videos in the languages used for translation.
Podcasts may be a little more challenging as they might require the use of interpreters or voice-over artists in order to put them out in front of a larger target demographic, but again, the initial website translation can provide the basic material necessary to convert the original articles into podcasting in virtually any language.
Social media marketing campaigns add still more reason to consider the use of translation apps or other means of multilingual communications. Reuters has noted the many different languages supported by the different “English speaking” social media platforms, but also notes that Facebook alone commonly has more than 140 languages in use at any given time.
While the increased ranking on the foreign language search engines should help to increase organic traffic, the social media platforms should not be dismissed. This is just as true for the primarily “English-speaking” platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and others, as well as numerous foreign-based social media platforms that may increase the visibility of the marketing materials.
Translation App Selection Guidelines
While there are definitely some benefits to using translation companies with localization services in house, there are also a great many times that translation apps are more than sufficient for the job at hand.
The release of Google BERT as an open source solution in October of 2018 looks as if it may revolutionize machine translation as much as it will search engine results. Smart devices are also increasingly functional with translation apps that have a specific design or function.
There are many different medical translation apps that are designed specifically for doctors and diagnosis as well as others for patients who need to accurately convey information, even when they do not know the exact medical terminology. There are additional translation apps that are more specifically designed for the traveler in order to allow them to converse sufficiently well in foreign lands to find their way around.
These types of translation apps are generally available for iPhones and Android and are extremely beneficial to have for anyone who may be traveling, either during the pandemic or even after.
The more general the translation app is as a rule, will factor in to determine just how functional and accurate it is for its intended use for the time being. There have been a great many translation app developers who have claimed to be able to pass the Turing test, but in reality, all of these results have been questionable at best, and none officially recognized.
This however, should not be viewed as undermining the purpose and use of translation apps as they are continually improved and increasingly efficient for a great many uses. As time goes on, look for some of these translation apps to become much more efficient and accurate in a multitude of uses. In the meantime, the translation companies may be a much better idea for multilingual online marketing campaigns.
About the author: Ofer Tirosh
Ofer Tirosh is the CEO of Tomedes, a translation company that works with businesses and individuals around the globe to establish international operations using translation and localization strategies.