7 Tips to Overcome the Language Barrier in Global Digital Advertising

The digital environment has provided marketers with immense, worldwide reach. Avoiding communication faux pas and overcoming cultural differences is incredibly important for any global agency.

Whatagraph team

May 03 2021 9 min read

Table of Contents

    The global economic landscape opens up plenty of opportunities for foreign business expansion. Yet, language barriers prove to be one of the major issues in international business relations. Over 49% of international companies experience this dealing with their foreign customers.

    This article will discuss some of the best strategies that you could use for global business:

    1. Work with a translation company.

    It is important to translate your materials into other languages when entering the global market. According to Common Sense Advisory, international marketers have to use a minimum of 14 languages to extend their reach over the world. It includes English, Spanish, Arabic, Chinese, French, etc.

    Moreover, most people think that English is a business language. For them, using this language guarantees great branding and sales to a company. But, this is not necessarily true in global marketing.

    It is a great idea to translate your content to languages you are not familiar with. This is especially true if you want to target Asian Pacific Countries (APAC). It is because these countries use different languages and dialects.

    However, avoid self-translating your marketing materials to prevent mistranslations and miscommunication. Instead, partner with a reliable translation company with expertise in your industry. You should also choose those that offer various language solutions.

    Unlike machine translations, a translation company can offer a full range of professional language and content solutions. Additionally, language service providers (LSPs) know the common language issues that companies may experience. You can also demand various language pairings with their network of native speakers.

    2. Narrow down your target markets.

    There are over 7000 languages in the world and it would be ridiculous to cover everything. Before you start your global expansion, make sure to narrow down your target market first. Choose the locations with the best opportunities. This will help in cost-cutting and minimizing your marketing efforts.

    To start, you can conduct market research about your industry. You can also analyze existing data of the locations of your sales and traffic. This is possible by using different marketing data monitoring tools such as Whatagraph. Track your campaign results across various channels. This will help identify where most of your return-on-investment (ROI) comes from.

    After identifying your target audience, note down the common languages they use.  Try to cut them down as much as possible. Here are the things that you should consider when choosing your target market:

    • The size of the customer base in the location
    • The supply and demand of your products and services in the location
    • The country’s willingness to buy via the digital market.
    • Legal and regulatory factors and documents with remote online notarization of the location’s business politics
    • The number of potential customers using the language

    3. Respect cultures and languages.

    After identifying your target market, it is now time to make in-depth research about them. Try to learn more about their language, culture, religion, trends, and preferences. Make sure to identify any cultural taboos and norms to make the right approach to them. These things differ from country to country.  If you make a small mistake, it can cause a grave loss to your company.

    Adapting your digital advertisements to their language and culture is beneficial. It helps in building a sense of trust and integrity in your target audiences. If you have a tagline, make sure to translate it to other languages appropriately. But, let the professional translators handle these things.  Translating them by yourself or using translation apps will bring more trouble.

    Language is a vital aspect of marketing. But, it is complicated with plenty of nuances and connotations. Even large companies are having a hard time dealing with unfamiliar languages. For example, KFC’s poor translations backfired in their campaign in China. Their catchphrase “finger-lickin’ good” was translated into something like “eat your fingers off.”

    Ultimately, studying and adapting to other cultures, trends, and languages is important.

    4. Use visuals to communicate better.

    Do you want to portray your company’s message globally with minimal translations? You should definitely try using visuals. Humans are naturally visual learners. It will be easy for them to understand signs, cue cards, and other visual aids. You can try creating videos and images or change the layout of your website.

    Here are some of the things that you can try:

    • Create some videos with more images and minimal words to avoid the need for translations.
    • Use images on your website and social media account for instructional content.
    • Be creative on your brand logo and make it catchy and easier to understand.
    • Use color psychology on your posts and website to convey your company's message.

    However, you need to be careful about using symbols and make sure to do thorough research first. Some of them may mean differently or offensive in other regions, which is what you want to avoid. But, if you can use visuals well, it could be a great solution to break language barriers.

    5. Hire in-country employees.

    Do you want to send your employees to your other countries for management and immersions? These people need culture and language training before you actually send them abroad. This is to help them adapt and function well in other societies. But, this method can be pretty expensive and impractical.

    Instead, it is best to hire in-country employees that could offer some local knowledge. Aside from being multilingual, they can help in managing affairs in their region. They can provide clearer local insights that will help improve your ad campaigns.

    Moreover, you can partner with local resellers if your business is offering products. They can handle the management, communication, and sales of the business in their area.

    6. Maximize your publishing options.

    With technology, global communications and marketing are now easier even outside your border. Marketers commonly use websites to convey their message and offer their products. But, there are other digital publishing options that you can also explore. Some of them can even offer more convenient connections with your target audiences.

    These are the publishing options that you should consider:


    The best way to build and convey your branding’s voice is by developing a multilingual website. It offers your target audiences access to information about your company and products. Make sure that it is easy to navigate and the language options are

    If you are out of budget, you can translate an informational microsite. It can still provide essential company information but.

    Social media accounts

    You can also try managing social media accounts for different countries and languages. This is a much cheaper and effective option to connect with your global customers. You can hire native social media managers with local knowledge about their country. It is also more convenient to create ads with social media to endorse your products and services.

    With over 53.6% of the world's population using social media, it will be easier to connect with your target audiences on these platforms.

    Video and audio

    Translating videos and audio is also a great advertising strategy. You can host informational podcasts and webinars.  It is ideal when offering insights that can help your customer and endorse your company. Partner with a translation company for video translations, voice-overs, and captioning.


    Email is also an effective publishing option to connect with your customers worldwide. Having effective lead generation and email campaign translations will be more beneficial. But, emails need extensive personalization. You need a broader understanding of your customer’s culture and language and apply them.

    7. Translate your content for your own country.

    Lastly, don’t think that you will only need to use one language on content for your own country’s market. Almost all countries use different languages. There are about 430 languages in the U.S.A with millions of Limited English Proficient (LEP) residents. That’s just in America alone. Other countries are also using different languages and dialects.

    In these cases, it would be best to offer other language options for your marketing campaigns. Before targeting other countries, it would be best to target other multilingual in your region first. You can experience more benefits beyond sales with smart translations of your content.

    With this, you can get good impressions that your company doesn't tolerate discrimination. It will help build trust and connection with your customer. They will also likely choose your product or services over others.

    Final Takeaways

    You already know about the best ways to break the language barriers in your global digital advertisements. Now, all you need to do is utilize a strategy to apply them perfectly to your campaigns. However, note that different countries have a different take on various marketing strategies. You must understand them and apply.

    Most of all, the thing that will earn you trust and respect from your target customers is your respect for their culture and languages. You have to let them feel like they matter and that your company respects them. Be extra sensitive in their religion, customs, history, and current issues.

    As long as you respect your customer’s culture and offer valuable products and services, your digital advertising campaigns will surely be fruitful.

    Published on May 03 2021

    The Whatagraph blog team produces high-quality content on all things marketing: industry updates, how-to guides, and case studies.

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