It might come as a surprise to learn that only about 375 million people speak English as a first language. In fact, data from Statista shows that more people speak Hindi as a native language than English. And which language has the biggest number of native speakers? You guessed it – Mandarin Chinese!
Whichever language is spoken, online communications have made connecting with the rest of the world easier than it’s ever been. This opens up opportunities for business expansion into foreign markets, often without the need to travel and setup physical offices or outlets (although that may still be a part of it).
Marketing to regions where English is not the native language – such as China – is no easy task however, and there are lots of things to think about.
Here are some of them.
Obviously language is one of the main communication barriers to overcome. But human language tends to be a living and breathing thing – full of sayings, idioms, double meanings, accents, dialects, inflections and subtleties. This means it doesn’t readily translate accurately, especially when done in a literal way by a machine or widget.
When developing a multilingual digital marketing strategy for China, this means you should use the services of someone that has a good grasp of both languages (English and Chinese) to assist you in your international marketing efforts.
Culture can be described as the collective knowledge and characteristics of a group of people, developed organically over a long period of time. As well as language, culture also includes cuisine, music, religion, arts, tastes, and customs.
But like language itself, culture is not some straightforward thing that can be instantly grasped. It also tends not to not be uniform throughout any country. According to a BBC report, there are more than 50 ethnic groups in China. These groups differ from each other in various ways, and in terms of marketing, this will impact on preferences and needs, behaviour patterns and other factors.
This means that your digital marketing strategies need to be adapted for the region you are targeting, and that you should have someone on your team that has a deep understanding of the local culture and market.
When developing websites for foreign markets they should be optimised for the most popular search engines. In China, the Baidu search engine is the one that dominates, and it is different from Google in a number of ways. It’s important to use a digital marketing service that has expertise in SEO for China’s online search engines.
Other factors to take into account
Other things to consider include local regulations and licences, use of local social media platforms, website layouts and design, and local competition.
At Digital Crew, our China marketing team has a deep understanding of the languages, cultures and digital marketing landscape in China, and we can help you develop a winning bilingual online strategy. Contact our office for more details.