Smartling, a company that uses technology to transform the way content is created and consumed, just released the results of a study that exposes the current state of multilingual marketing.
The translation management software company polled more than 150 marketers at INBOUND 2015 to learn where their organizations stand in terms of targeting prospects and customers who don't speak English as their native language – both in and outside of the U.S.
Given the global nature of e-commerce and the tremendous revenue opportunities it represents, the results are surprising. Key findings of the survey revealed:
Content is king – but the multilingual marketing coffers are empty
Every savvy marketer knows that personalized content and messaging are crucial to engaging prospects and customers, yet a low percentage of the marketers surveyed are dedicating any dollars to campaigns tailored for multilingual audiences:
• 48 percent of the marketers surveyed have no budget at all for translation outside of the U.S.
• 59 percent of respondents – nearly three out of five – do not have any money allocated to reach multilingual audiences within the U.S.
"Brands that want to resonate with consumers all over the world need to do more than just 'think' globally. They need to dedicate budget and resources to a truly global approach to their marketing efforts," said Judd Marcello, vice president of marketing at Smartling.
Brands are walling themselves in – not taking international expansion seriously
Smartling's research also exposed the fact that few organizations surveyed are conducting business outside of U.S. borders today, despite the fact that 13 languages together cover 90 percent of today's online spending power. Those who do serve overseas markets are not focused on creating native brand experiences for prospects and customers.
• Almost half of respondents (49.34 %) report that five percent or less of their customer base is located outside of the U.S.
• Of the 105 respondents who are marketing to multilingual audiences in some way, only 15 % are very confident that their messages are resonating with them.
Organizations are putting the "mass" in mass communication – not making it personal
It's widely acknowledged that no one size fits all – especially in marketing. Yet, despite that fact, marketers are still limiting their content strategies to one language and are predominantly applying only one translation/localization practice.
• Half of all respondents (52.6 %) are either not translating at all or are only translating into one language.
• The majority of marketers (86 %) admit that they generate U.S.-centric content and then translate it for a particular market. Only 14 % of organizations create original content, and employ local/native marketers in the countries where they are seeking to expand their business.
• Among the companies that are translating, a few still rely on machine translation (8.6 %); many rely on human translators (42.1 %); 14.5 % use both; and others are beginning to use translation management software (4.6 %).
Marcello added, "Translation is the most fundamental step in personalization. However, traditional language translation practices are often disruptive to the business process and that deters a lot of marketers. Many see only two distinct approaches – human translation services and machine translation. It's time to challenge conventional wisdom if brands want to effectively engage customers in a personalized way on a global scale. Multilingual content management software is absolutely essential to doing just that. It combines the essential human element with innovative technology to give brands the ability to easily add languages, reach new markets and ensure native experiences across all their touchpoints."