Marketers: Treat Content as an Investment, Not a Cost

To effectively reach target audiences in different countries, it's important to evaluate your content library and ensure information is translated and localized for different cultures.
Customer Experience

Creating branded content that effectively reaches target customers worldwide continues to top marketing professionals' "high-priority" list, but many are dismayed and deterred by the perceived complexity and cost associated with taking content "global." In reality, thanks to technology advancements, translating and localizing content can be an easy process and deliver significant ROI that greatly surpasses upfront translation costs.

Nielsen reports that an average of 27 million pieces of content are shared every day, and that number is only expected to increase. In addition to driving awareness and engagement among multilingual audiences, content creation is the single most effective technique for search engine optimization (SEO). Content should play a vital role in your marketing program and customer communications strategies and therefore should be treated as an investment rather than a cost.

The Internet has made companies global by nature. The moment you launch a website, post a whitepaper, create an ondemand webcast, or publish a blog, you have the ability to reach people across the globe. And customers worldwide can easily find you. What will they see when they get to your site? Will they be lost in an unknown language and confused by foreign cultural nuances? To effectively reach target audiences in different countries, it's important to evaluate your content library and ensure information is translated and localized for different cultures.

Will I really see a return on my investment, you ask? Let's look at the numbers. According to a recent Common Sense Advisory survey of more than 2,000 global Web consumers, 72.1 percent of respondents indicated they spend most or all of their time on websites in a language other than English. Further, 72.4 percent of survey respondents said that they would be more likely to buy a product if it had information in their own language. And even more compelling, 56.2 percent of global consumers said that the ability to obtain information in their own language is more important to them than price. That's powerful stuff.

Your company has already invested marketing budget and additional resources in the creation of English-language content, and you've seen firsthand how that content improves SEO, builds brand awareness, and engages prospects online. You may even be able to trace qualified prospect leads to specific content marketing campaigns. When you invest in translating that content, even if it's into one other language, you're essentially doubling its power.

Doing the math: ROI on translated content

Here are five tips to help you calculate the ROI of global content:

  1. Understand the value of the content you have today. Whether you're using hired professional writers or people on staff to create content, you pay someone to generate your English-language marketing content. For example, if you have 500,000 words of content on your website, multiply that total by $50 cents per word (a good median estimate on the professional writer rate) to determine how much money you've invested in existing content. In the above example, you would have invested $250,000 in the website's content creation.
  2. Determine how much lead generation and revenue is driven by that content. Let's say that the content currently supporting your business by driving leads and engaging prospects is resulting in $20 million in annual revenue. Divide that figure by your existing content value, and that tells you the ROI of existing content.
  3. Figure out how much revenue can be realized from new markets. Many companies today are making more than half of their total revenue from global markets outside the U.S., but it's best to be conservative with your estimate.
  4. Decide what percentage of your current content should be translated. Most companies strategically select a percentage of their total content to translate. Determine the most trafficked content on your website and the most popular documents and prioritize them for translation and localization. Many companies mistakenly think they have to translate everything on their website. This is not the case. Marketing today is agile and so is translation.
  5. Decide the number of languages you need based on your target customer base. If you're selling in the United States, English and Spanish are most likely your priority languages. If you're casting a customer net across all of North America, it's probably a good idea to include French in the mix. If you're looking at Europe, Asia, and the Middle East, then Japanese, German, simplified Chinese, French, Italian, Portuguese, Arabic and Russian may be worthwhile investments.

Here's a bonus tip: Streamline efficiencies and cut costs on translation projects by selecting a translation service provider that offers translation memory-a powerful technology that takes advantage of content overlap by intelligently storing segments, phrases, and paragraphs repeated throughout your content.

Translation and localization may take a chunk out of your budget upfront, but after calculating the ROI that multilingual content produces, can you really afford not to do it? To me, the value of reaching audiences in languages they can understand is priceless.