Marketing translation: the cost of (not) translating your brand

As modern consumers, we are constantly inundated with information. The rapid adoption of mobile devices like smartphones, tablets and wearable tech, coupled with an increasingly reliable internet connection on the go, means that we are rarely off the grid. Digital content is coming at us from all angles and as a result, we have become very good at the art of ‘extreme skim reading’. As we try not to drown in content, we are learning to filter out anything that isn’t 100% relevant to us. We simply don’t have the time anymore to invest in reading something – anything – unless we feel that we really get something out of it. And we make that judgment call with lightning speed. In today’s fast-paced, content-rich world, 10 seconds is like a lifetime. So when your potential customer is reading your text (in whichever format you have delivered it, be it an email, a promoted Facebook post, your website, a Google Ad), you need to make it count.

When you create your English marketing materials, you have got it covered – you know exactly what works and you create bespoke messaging for your English-speaking target audience. But as your business starts to grow and you enter new markets for the first time, how will your English copy fare? Many international companies work with an ‘English first’ content strategy, where marketing content is first created in English (most often the company’s business language) and subsequently translated into other languages. In the beginning, a marketing translation is often more cost-effective and easier to manage and implement than engaging with content creators and marketing agencies in the new target markets.

In the translation industry, professionals often talk about localisation. The essence of localisation is to make the translated text as relevant as possible to readers in the target language. The aim is to speak to the reader in such a way that he/she wouldn’t even realise that the text is a translation. Why? There are two reasons:

Number 1: Familiarity

We tend to feel safer buying from a company who speaks the same language as us and who shares the same cultural values as us. In an e-commerce context, consumers face a lot of uncertainties when buying products or services from another country, so it’s only natural that they would be somewhat more sceptical about a foreign company. Is it safe to pay with my credit card on this website? What’s the return policy? What are my legal rights buying products from another country? Most companies will have all of this information very clearly laid on their website but your potential customer hasn’t even got that far yet. When he/she first interacts with your content, you want them to feel like they are in safe hands.

Number 2: Avoiding unnecessary distractions

You need to eliminate any elements that will cause your reader to pause unnecessarily, anything that will distract them from your core marketing message. For example, if you are only displaying prices in USD on your website, a German reader would have to convert the prices into EUR to understand if it’s a good deal or not. This means stopping, calculating in one’s head or checking on a currency conversion website. By that time, your prospect may already have lost interest (or simple hasn’t got the time) and has moved on.

In a world where people’s attention span is shorter than the time it takes to say ‘content marketing’, every interaction with your potential customers, however fleeting, must be interesting and inspire confidence in your brand. So when you get your marketing materials translated from English into another language, you need to get it right from the start. Of course, entering a new market is always associated with costs, including the cost of translation. But investing in a high-quality marketing translation is your best bet to ensure that your translated marketing copy will really resonate with your target audience, and that you will see a faster return on your investment in translation. In the end, it boils down to simple maths:


the cost of (not) translating your marketing content