Successful multilingual marketing

Successful multilingual marketing: choosing the most profitable languages

How to do smart audience research to decide which countries to target – and make your international marketing efforts pay off

Imagine investing in the translation of your content and marketing material and getting nothing in return. No increased traffic, no new customers, no boost in sales.

How can that be? Where did you go wrong?

In this article, you’ll learn how to do the best audience research to turn your investment in multilingual marketing into a ticket to a profitable global business.

Don’t just throw money at translation

Offering content in different languages is one of the best ways to generate more organic traffic.

To get there, however, it’s best to not just throw money at getting your website translated into 10 languages and expect big sales as an automatic result.

People and businesses, products and services are all different. A multilingual marketing strategy might work well for a certain business, but it won’t necessarily for yours.

And just because English, French and Spanish are languages you think are widely spoken, that doesn’t necessarily mean your dream customers understand those languages. Or, more importantly, want to buy in that language.

If you invest in languages without doing proper research, you run the risk of losing money.

Instead, you’ll have to find out who your customers and fans abroad are and which language they prefer.

☝️ Translation Tip: Don’t use the Google Translate plugin for your website translation:

  1. It will lead to a bad Google ranking.
  2. Readers will notice that they are being talked to by a machine (translation) — the easiest way to make them leave.

See how those two to go together? Google wants you to create genuine, useful content, connecting humans to humans.

Collect data from different sources

In order to find out what language or languages to choose for your multilingual marketing strategy, you can collect data from your customers, website visitors and social media audience and analyse it.

This will help you get a better idea of where your fans really are and enable you to make an informed decision.

Using multiple sources, rather than just one, will mean you can get comprehensive, useful information. Here are some options.

Data sources to define your audience

Google Analytics: The obvious place to start researching the audience for your multilingual marketing is Google Analytics. Here, you can check out where most of the visitors to your website are from.

Are there a significant number of people visiting your site from a specific country (that isn’t your own)? Then it might be worth considering their native language for your multilingual marketing.

But bear in mind that now, with GDPR in place, many website visitors opt out of the use of cookies during their website visit.

That means Google will not collect location data for those visitors, which makes Google Analytics data less significant than it used to be.

Social Media Analytics: Look at the insights and analytics of the social media channels you use to promote your business. Where is your audience from?

The great advantage of social media analytics is that they analyse followers. That means there are people amongst them who are not customers yet but are interested in your content and might be open to purchasing at some point.

Maybe offering your content in their preferred language is just the nudge they need.

Direct messages and inquiries: Have people approached you via direct message, e-mail etc. asking whether you’re planning to offer your content in a certain language? Or whether you sell or ship to a specific country?

Take this valuable information into consideration for your multilingual marketing. People actively asking for it is probably one of the best indicators that a language will be profitable.

Ratings: If you offer your customers the option to rate your product or service online you might find some hints as to where your customers are from or what language they prefer.

Include this in your data collection to get even more comprehensive insights.

Surveys: Another great way to research your audience and make your multilingual marketing efforts successful is to create a survey.

Include targeted questions such as: Which country are you located in? Which language do you prefer to buy in? Would you like to see my content/products/services/website in a certain language? Which one? etc.

You can use online survey tools and send the survey to existing customers. And you can use the survey feature on social media to get answers from people who follow you but are not on your mailing list.

Combine and evaluate data

Having collected all this data, you can now bring it all together and evaluate it. This will enable you to see which languages will give you the highest return on investment, and which ones are probably not worth investing in, at least at this stage of your business.

Is your data leaning towards a certain language?

Or can you discount a language that you had initially considered for your multilingual marketing?

Make a list of countries and languages you want to target in the future in order of relevance.

This will help you prioritize certain languages if you prefer a slow and smooth transition into global waters, instead of tackling several additional languages at once.


Getting your content translated is one of the smartest choices you can make to drive organic traffic to your website, blog or social media channels.

But if you just invest in widely spoken languages, you are running the risk of missing your mark – and losing money.

Instead, analyse your customers and fans through different channels and platforms to collect data that’s relevant for your business.

That way, you make sure the money you put into your multilingual marketing is invested wisely and you attract the right customers.

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