Why It’s Vital to Localise Your Content for Dialects

Friday May 10, 2019 - Posted by:

How effectively you are able to use language to connect with your target audience plays a vital role in the overall success of your marketing efforts.

When you expand into new international markets, the challenge of using language to communicate with customers takes on an entirely new dimension. You need to feel confident that your marketing will continue to have an impact not only in new languages, but in different regional dialects as well.

In a world of some 7.7 billion people, more than 6,000 spoken languages and countless dialects, this is a considerable challenge.

Linguistic Complexities

The world’s most commonly spoken languages become infinitely more complex when regional dialects and inferences are taken into account.

One of the most powerful examples of this is the Chinese language, which can be divided into dozens of local varieties – such as Mandarin, Hakka and Cantonese – many of which are not mutually intelligible.

As Hannes Ben, founder of Locaria, pointed out in an article for Econsultancy, the diversity and complexity of the Chinese language means breaking into potentially lucrative markets such as Hong Kong can be particularly difficult. Local residents of Hong Kong often blend traditional Chinese with English and communicate in special Cantonese characters that are not used anywhere else in the country.

Similarly, Arabic has more than 200 million native speakers, but there are distinct regional versions of the language in every country in which it’s spoken. These dialects can have significant differences in terminology and sentence structure to the modern standard Arabic that is taught in schools and used in formal contexts.

If your business is expanding into markets where nuanced languages such as Arabic and Chinese are spoken, you should be prepared to communicate in a way that feels relevant and natural to specific audiences.

Furthermore, regional dialects and ways of speaking are a big consideration even in countries that have only one officially recognised national language. In the United States, for example, the Hispanic population is largely concentrated in California, New Mexico, Arizona, Texas, Florida, New York, Illinois and New Jersey. Hailing from countries and regions as diverse as Mexico, Puerto Rico, Cuba and the Dominican Republic, the Hispanic communities in these states speak their own distinct versions of Spanish.

The importance of localising content for regional Spanish dialects was underlined by Amazon’s recent move to make its Alexa virtual assistant available in Mexican Spanish.

Why Localising for Dialects Is so Valuable

Localising your marketing content for maximum impact not only in local languages, but regional dialects as well, can deliver real results in terms of creating a sense of empathy and building engagement with specific groups of customers.

Consider the earlier example of Hong Kong locals who use a mixture of traditional Chinese and English, and have their very own, completely unique Cantonese characters. Someone who is used to communicating in this very specific manner is more likely to feel a sense of affinity and familiarity with a brand that speaks to them in the same way.

By localising for regional dialects, your business can effectively speak like a local and create the foundations of close, rewarding relationships with international audiences.

This taps into the modern need for brands to provide bespoke, personalised marketing content. According to a report published by merchant software provider Cloud IQ, based on survey responses from over 2,500 people in the UK, US and Australia, consumers today want to be listened to, remembered and in control. Around seven out of ten consumers (69 per cent) said they wanted individualised brand experiences.

Using the most appropriate, relevant language, and communicating in a way that feels entirely natural to your target audience, is one of the most powerful ways to achieve this sense of personalisation.

Furthermore, localisation to reflect regional dialects is important on a technical level, particularly in terms of international SEO. Consumers will conduct internet searches in the terms they are most familiar with, possibly using local vernacular and phonetic spellings of brand names or products. By preparing for this with research on local market trends and multilingual keyword combinations, you can ensure your web content is optimised to boost your search engine rankings and drive brand visibility.

To see how Locaria can help your business achieve these and other goals in your international marketing, get in touch with us today.

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