copywriting for international audience

Copywriting for an International Audience

Just so you know, this blog is also subtitled, Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?

Why? Well, it’s hard not to relate the entire topic here in any way to the classic 90s television show, “Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?” It was such a great show and everybody loved trying to figure out where Ms. Sandiego was. Remember? What many of us didn’t realize with this show is that we were being introduced to different cultures all around the world. We were being taken out of our current setting to learn that there are people different from us. It was a great learning experience as a kid and can now be something you implement in your copywriting and content marketing.

The globe is massive and there are thousands of different languages out there, which means if you want to take your business global you are going to have to start writing in different languages. If you are wondering just how to go about doing this, then you are in luck! This blog is going to discuss how to create global content for everyone, as well as how to write in different forms of English (yes, there are different forms!).

English Is the Norm for Many

English is the standard language in the business world. All you have to do is go onto the Metro in Paris and see universities offering Business English courses to anyone interested in becoming a businessperson. However, approximately 6% of the world cannot speak English well enough to conduct business, according to the Content Marketing Institute. Because of this, many people are left out in the cold and it can even limit their ability to grow further in the business world or any other aspect of an English-speaking world.

Many people are attempting to learn English and many children learn English in their schools. Unfortunately, many countries do not have the resources to teach everyone. While English is the norm for many things, don’t rely on the fact that people may be learning how to speak and read English. You need to start considering writing for many cultures and languages.

An important note to consider is that the United States and many English-speaking countries are filled with more than just English speakers and we have to reach out to them. Some of the major languages spoken in the United States are Spanish, Chinese, French, Tagalog (Filipino), and Vietnamese. While many of these people can speak English and understand it well, many still would appreciate any content that is written in their own language.

Copywriting: Can You Write Content for Different Languages?

You can! It doesn’t have to be overwhelming or too difficult. You can actually find many people that are more than willing to help you write content in different languages. The more languages you write your content in, the more customers your business will bring in. We actually write a bi-weekly English blog and a bi-weekly Spanish blog for one company. It is a great experience and gets your product out to more individuals by doing this!

Here are a few great tips that will help you write content in multiple languages:

1. Learn What Languages Are Spoken In Your Area. This is the best way to slowly make your content go global. If you don’t write for the locals, you will have a very hard time writing for others in different countries. This is a great opportunity to learn a different language or to find someone to write in a particular language. Never assume that one language is spoken more than another is – your area might shock you. Many assume Spanish is spoken the most, but there are areas where Russian is spoken more or where Chinese or Vietnamese is spoken. Research your area and learn the most prevalent language. If you are having a difficult time finding out which languages are spoken in your area, you can always go to the US Census website and use their interactive language map.

2. Hire Local Writers to Craft Content For You. When we say, “local,” we don’t just mean people from your town, but people who know the language you are planning to use. They will know all the puns, jokes, and alliterations that can be used in that particular language. If you are hiring someone to write content in a different language for local customers, the writer will know what a particular culture sees in the community and what they enjoy.

A “local” writer will also be able to write for the search engines and help your site rank on that language’s search engine results page. Having a writer who is fluent in specific languages is the best way to adequately meet any language and copywriting needs your company will have. Put out an ad and start looking for someone to help you craft diverse content for your company.

3. Hire and Consult Local Editors. Every copywriter needs a copy editor to make sure they have met all grammatical rules and haven’t made horrible spelling mistakes. When you have a writer craft content that is in a different language, you will also need to hire an editor who can edit in that language. They will help catch any spelling mistakes that you may not find and will make sure the content makes sense to readers. Copy editors are crucial for your copywriting campaign, no matter what language the content is written in.

4. Look Into How Different Cultures Spend Their Time Online. Each culture spends time on a different site and the amount of time they spend on the Internet varies. This will help you know which social media site to use when you begin your marketing campaign for a particular culture or if Internet marketing will work for that culture. You can find many different sites that will give you information about the culture you want to reach and how they spend their time online. Once you have learned this, your new language campaign will start taking off!

5. Consider the Different Cultures You Would Like To Reach Outside of Your Home. Starting the process of writing for different cultures in your area will help prepare you for going to a global market. Start researching the different areas around the globe you would like to reach. Do you want to reach out to people living in Mexico or Argentina? What about those living in European countries like France or Germany? As you figure out where you would like to go, start looking into hiring content writers and editors that are fluent in those languages.

Writing in Different English Forms

English is an extremely varied language. Americans, Canadians, the British, and Australians are constantly arguing over who speaks English correctly as well as who spells words correctly. It is a joke in the majority of British films that make it over to America (see Hot Fuzz) and Americans constantly tease the British. It is all fun and games until we get to the content realm. When it comes to writing content for multiple sites, you need to make sure you are able to write in the English format the client expects. They will specify that they would like it to be with “British or Australian” writing and you must know what that means, in order to meet their requests. It isn’t really all that difficult.

Here are a few tips on how to write with different spellings whether it is for a British site or an American site:

1. Watch A Few Movies, Read A Few Books. The best way to know how a different culture writes or speaks English is by reading books by authors from that culture. You can read a plethora of British authors to get a feel for how they write and can enjoy watching shows like Doctor Who or Sherlock to gain an understanding of typical British phrasing. If you are one who speaks and writes in British English and are writing for an American, read writers like Chuck Palahniuk or watch American films to get a firm grasp on the phraseology.

2. Contractions: Americans Love ‘em. We use contractions throughout our blog posts as most Americans do. If you are writing for an American company, it is always a good idea to make sure if they want contractions used or if they want it to be written in a more professional way. Other English speakers will use contractions, but most of the time it is Americans who take the prize in most contractions used in a single paragraph.

Another thing to remember when marketing to a different culture, American English uses phrases like “breaking it down” which is considered colloquial and is used by many Americans. Most of the time, we don’t realize we use these until someone asks us to explain ourselves. Make sure you don’t use too many colloquial phrases if you are writing for a foreign company.

In the End…

When writing for foreign companies, it is best to have someone who is “local” to that culture so that you can write properly and market to that culture. Proper marketing skills will make your company very successful and you need to consider foreign and cultural marketing techniques for your next copywriting campaign. Get an ad out there for a writer who can write in Spanish, Chinese, or French and start writing great content that can go all over the world!



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