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Translation in Ecommerce: Beyond words, beyond borders

August 24, 2023

Why is translation so much more than just converting words from one language to another. As an ecommerce seller on Amazon, understanding the power of translation is the secret ingredient to unlocking a global customer base and boosting your sales.

Think of translation as a master key that opens the door to untapped markets, connecting you with millions of potential customers who speak different languages and hail from diverse cultural backgrounds. But, before you embark on a linguistic journey, let's explore the critical elements that go beyond the mere act of translation.

SEO friendly translation

You might have a stellar product, but if it doesn't appear on the first page of Amazon search results, does it even exist? SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is the wizardry that propels your listings to the top of the search pile. When translating product descriptions, titles, and keywords, it's not just about finding equivalent words in another language. It's about understanding how your target audience searches for products in that language and on that marketplace.

Furthermore, the intriguing world of international SEO unravels the significant variation in keywords across different countries, driven not only by linguistic and cultural nuances but also by market maturity on Amazon. As markets mature, so do consumers' search habits and preferences, leading to a divergence in the terms and phrases used to find products. For instance, in a well-established market like the United States, customers may use specific industry jargon, (very) long tail keywords and brand names in their search queries. In contrast, in emerging markets, consumers might rely more on generic terms to explore new product categories. Understanding this evolving landscape is akin to deciphering a constantly shifting lexicon, where an adept keyword strategy tailored to each market's maturity level becomes indispensable. By aligning with the unique intricacies of each locale, ecommerce sellers can navigate the diverse linguistic terrain, connecting with their international audience effectively.

We've encountered fascinating scenarios that highlight the strategic importance of crafting culturally relevant translations. For instance, SIGG, a renowned water bottle brand aimed to conquer the fiercely competitive US market, bursting with over 10,000 relevant keywords. Faced with a plethora of options, our team guided them to opt for a long-tail approach, honing in on highly specific and contextually relevant keywords like "kids water bottle for school" rather than generic terms like "blue water bottle." This shift in focus ensured their product resonated with the target audience's specific needs, gaining a competitive edge in the mature US market.

Additionally, in the case of a niche Manuka honey producer seeking to expand their market shares, we emphasized the unique benefits of the product and its distinctive consumption methods. By highlighting the health benefits and drawing parallels with complementary products such as food supplements or honey-infused teas, we created a compelling narrative that enticed new consumers to embrace the manifold advantages of this New Zealand honey.

Target market and cultural relevancy

Ever heard the phrase "When in Rome, do as the Romans do"? The same principle applies to your Amazon listings. Embracing cultural relevancy means understanding local customs, traditions, and even sensitivities.

Being culturally relevant when translating marketing material is the key to creating a profound impact on international audiences. Culture shapes the very essence of our beliefs, values, and traditions, influencing how we perceive the world and make purchasing decisions. When marketers embrace cultural relevancy, they demonstrate a genuine understanding and respect for the sensibilities of their target markets. By adapting language, imagery, and messaging to resonate with local customs and preferences, they bridge the gap between their brand and consumers from diverse backgrounds. Culturally relevant translations evoke a sense of familiarity, authenticity, and trust, igniting an emotional connection that transcends linguistic barriers. A carefully crafted culturally relevant marketing content not only enhances brand perception but also solidifies a company's position as a global player that cares deeply about its customers. As a result, brands that embrace cultural relevancy in their translations not only sell products, but also cultivate lasting relationships that endure the test of time and cultural boundaries.

Through our extensive work with brands, we've witnessed firsthand the profound impact of cultural relevance in translating marketing material. One striking example involves a brand that sells silicone reusable bags. In France, these eco-friendly wonders are referred to as "freezer bags," emphasizing their use for storing food in the freezer. Meanwhile, in the US, they are commonly known as "ziplock bags" and "snack bags," highlighting their versatility for sealing food on the go and maintaining freshness. This variance in product usage terminology reflects the distinct consumer habits and lifestyle preferences in each country.

Another instance revolves around hair loss and growth food supplements, where the market audience varies significantly between France and Spain. In France, these supplements predominantly cater to women during the postpartum phase, acknowledging the specific hair-related challenges new mothers may face. On the other hand, in Spain, the demand predominantly stems from men seeking solutions for hair loss and overall hair health. This stark contrast in target audiences showcases the importance of understanding the unique cultural contexts and societal norms that influence consumer behavior in each market.

In the end, translation is merely the launchpad for exporting your brand. Just as in your home market, conquering global frontiers demands meticulous market research, product fit, and effective marketing. Embrace the cultural nuances, connect authentically, and watch your brand soar worldwide! Remember, it's not just words!

Megan Shope

Brand Manager

Publicis Groupe
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