How Not To Crack A Lucrative Foreign Market
Have you ever seen ads that look like this?
Probably not. But that’s because you speak English… like most affiliates. This is what happens when an affiliate tries to scale his campaigns in to a different country without bothering to translate them properly.
They end up reading like they’ve been crafted by Robert Patrick on a bad day.
You may snigger, but these type of creatives are not unusual at all. Many affiliates who dare to venture in to foreign markets are hopelessly aided by Google Translations and a tendency to fuck up even the simplest of sentences.
Google Translations is about as trustworthy as my old shortcuts in French class. I hold the proud distinction of passing a French oral exam despite my speech being littered with random outburts of German. How could I screw something up so badly, you ask? Very bloody easily, with the unreliable assistance of poorly programmed word-for-word translation software.
If you want your ad creatives to look genuine, and not thrown together with the style of a madlib machine, it’s important to take your translations seriously. I would suggest you check in to One Hour Translation for small jobs, or hire yourself a cheap translator on CraigsList if you like your outsourcing to be more personal.
Pro Tip: Hire the best translator for the job. This isn’t a power trip. Try not to allow your judgment to be clouded by 17 year old Macedonian school girls who claim “Of course, I can speak fluent Japanese…you look so cute!“. You think I’m joking? Spend 10 minutes recruiting for jobs on CraigsList and you’ll feel distinctly more ordinary for the effort.
It’s important to translate your creatives correctly, not only to drive a greater CTR, but to keep your aura of professionalism in tact.
I’ve heard several horror stories of companies refusing to pay for leads and sales that were delivered legitmately, simply because the ad creatives were poorly constructed in a foreign language. It harms the brand, they claim. I’d be inclined to agree. Though refusing to pay the previous leads strikes me as a little draconian. A slap on the wrist and a “you naughty boy, you” should have been enough. But alas, these situations can be avoided by putting care in to your ad copy.
Let’s say you have the best creatives, translated in to pitch perfect lingo that the natives can understand. What is the next step for getting a campaign profitable in a foreign market?
I can’t stress highly enough the importance of cultural relevance.
Once upon a time, I submitted a Jewish dating ad with the headline “Girlfriend For Christmas?”. It wasn’t until about 4 days later that I felt, for the first time in my life, sufficiently more stupid than a Facebook intern that I would quit my bitching over disapprovals. For a few hours, at least.
Having run dating ads in almost every continent, I can safely say that the tone, language and imagery of a profitable campaign will vary drastically across the board. But, yes, if you were wondering, boobs are still king.
If you’re advertising to Hong Kong or Taiwan, it makes absolutely no sense to flood your ad imagery with scantily clad hobags of the American Pie realm. Different countries have different perceptions of beauty. And although dating throws up some of the biggest differences in culture, there are examples to be found in practically every vertical under the sun.
Let’s say you’re advertising an e-cigarette offer. The difference in tone between advertising to midwest America and the center of Amsterdam is going to be quite severe. As somebody who has sampled both of those parts of the world, I often wish for the two cultures to share a dinner party together where I could watch as a fly on the wall.
The media in each region portrays a vastly different image of smoking. If you approach your Netherlands campaign with the wording of a Midwest state dweller who knows only what he sees on Oprah, your ads are probably going to be met with a lot of confused Dutch stares. Perception, in advertising, is everything!
It’s important to approach your international ads with just as much patience as you would with a domestic campaign. If an offer doesn’t convert after 6000 impressions, that doesn’t mean an entire country has spoken. I only cracked the Singaporean gaming market after learning how to exclude Andrew “The Impression Whore” Wee from my targeting. Patience and perseverance are pretty much par for the course in any kind of Facebook marketing these days.
I also have to point out that dating offers designed specifically for the native country regularly outperform those that have simply been opened up to the new market and translated across with haste. I can’t pinpoint why, but it probably has something to do with a better understanding of the culture. Be sure to test all your options before confining another campaign to the scrapheap.
What can’t be argued is that there are still TONS of opportunities to launch profitable campaigns outside the popular trifecta of USA/UK/Can. There are times where I cry myself to sleep that I never took French class seriously. If you have the knowledge of a second language up your sleeve, what are you waiting for? Use it!
And if not? I have about 47 bilingual Macedonian schoolgirls that you’re welcome to borrow*
Recommended This Week
If you’re looking for a network to serve your international campaigns, EWA has an insane selection to choose from. Last time I checked, they had 580+ dating offers from practically every corner of the world. And that’s just dating. I run traffic through EWA daily. For all the outrageous Eagleisms popping up on Twitter – and in banner spaces on sites like this – you can’t knock what they do. The hype is justified by a mighty solid network that cares about it’s affiliates. Get registered here.
If you’re not already a member on PPV Playbook, you are missing a beat sunshine. Easily the BEST place to learn from marketers who are actually making money. It has some awesome case studies. The catch is that you will need to pay some of your hard earned pesos to access it. I swear from the bottom of my black heart, joining is worth every penny – BTW, I have a limited number of coupon codes giving new members $10 off their monthly subscription. Email me for a code.
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* JOKE. Seriously, this is a respectable blog.
@Dean - It depends what you were doing before. If what you were doing before was outsourceable, can you not…