Translating Your Marketing Beyond the Olympics

Here at The Hub, I recently identified gold-medal social-media strategies for the upcoming Rio Olympics–now only about two months away. Given that the Olympics are a global event–and that today’s digital marketer is necessarily a global marketer–there is yet a larger challenge marketers must conquer: brand globalization through brand translation.

Necessarily, for marketers this starts (but by no means ends) with literal language translation – a field experiencing “rapid growth” according to a May 2016 report from content management and translation firm SDL.

“We know from sources such as Common Sense Advisory and the US Bureau of Labor Statistics that translation…is a strongly growing sector,” reads the SDL Translation Technology Insights Executive Summary, “working hard to respond to escalating global demand that seems to have no end in sight.”

The Migration Translators, an Australian translation firm, further reports that demand for voice-based marketing translation will continue to grow throughout 2016 – as will marketing demand for “long-tail languages” (i.e., languages that are not very popular).

Indeed, the very definition – and appeal – of the Olympics is that they are multicultural and multilingual. So too are US market segments. In November, the Bureau of the United States Census updated its developer APIs and website to reflect data that at least 350 languages are spoken in US homes. Other highlights from this update include the following:

  • About 192 million languages are spoken in the New York City metro region alone – the largest metro region in the US.
  • More than 60 million people living in the US speak a language other than English at home.
  • More than 25 million US residents “speak English less than ‘very well'” – and just fewer than two thirds of these residents speak Spanish and/or Spanish Creole.

SDL accordingly advises that your branding should be just as multilingual and multicultural as the Olympics themselves – especially in the countries like the US.

 “[D]ata from SDL shows that 32 percent of Millennial consumers in English-speaking countries prefer a language other than English, and 46 percent are more likely to purchase if information is presented in their preferred language,” an SDL spokesperson told me in an email interview. “To tie this [in] to the Olympics, global brands need to keep in mind when attempting to reach and win over a diverse audience [that] the best way to do so is through personalization, localization, and speaking their customers’ language.”

These stats are especially important in light of market research indicating that millennials are twice as likely to be interested in social media “cultural chatter” about the Olympics as their older counterparts.

“Today’s consumers live in multilingual settings,” SDL’s spokesperson pointed out. “This provides an opportunity for brands to embrace localization strategies grounded in customer-engagement preferences for the most personalized customer experience, no matter how big the arena.”

These localization strategies go beyond mere language, however. To achieve brand translation, you must also translate your technology, your customer-experience tools, and your monetization strategies.

“Local audiences are filled with nuance: preferred products, local audience characteristics, preferred channels, preferred payment methods[,] preferred devices, etc.,” said SDL’s spokesperson. “This means that outside of translations, local marketers also require flexibility to tailor this message and their approach to really be effective.”

Plenty of A/B testing and lots of ubiquity across various payment tools, social media networks, and other digital settings and touchpoints are thus vital to the global brand manager wishing to adapt marketing personalization strategies to a global scale.

“Once…language, device, [and] channel [are] understood and established with customers, organizations should expand their customer relationships well beyond the basics of pre-sales, purchase and support,” advises SDL. “Creating transparency and accessibility through various touchpoints will encourage shoppers to come back for more, keeping the brand top of mind for consumers beyond Olympics marketing campaigns.”

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