Tips for Translating E-mails
Over the years, e-mail has proven to be an invaluable marketing tactic, and the vast majority of marketers today count it as one of their key channels. But, how well do your e-mail efforts translate into a tool for tapping the United States’ growing multicultural population? “Many organizations are starting to take a closer look at their multicultural e-mail marketing initiatives and how to tailor them to the needs of those audiences, from both a language and cultural perspective,” states Ryan Buchanan, CEO of e-services consultancy eROI. What follows is a list of Buchanan’s tips for translating e-mail communications for multicultural audiences.
Write with an international audience in mind. Avoid slang terms and idioms, which are difficult to translate because many expressions do not exist in other languages or cultures. Similarly, avoid using regional dialects when translating copy, unless you know exactly which dialect your prospects speak. Significant differences in vocabulary—even among similar languages—can result in at least a mix-up, and at worse, serious damage to your credibility.
Watch your word count. Translation costs are directly proportionate to the number of words you write. And if you can say something in fewer words—do!
Remember that text can expand. Many languages expand when you translate from English. It takes 25 percent more words in Spanish to say the same thing in English. Vietnamese can expand as much as 33 percent, and Russian usually translates to about 10 percent expansion. To minimize the amount of time you spend redesigning your e-mail templates, use enough white space to accommodate the extra copy, especially if you’re translating your e-mail into multiple languages. Remember: This can have a big impact on your subject line.
Prepare graphics with text in mind. When possible, avoid creating graphics with embedded text. If that text needs to be extracted for translation, it could mean a costly re-work of the entire image to accommodate the increase. Also, remember that languages using non-Latin character sets require extra care during translation, so be sure to work with translators and tools that can handle these languages.
Don’t forget to translate images, too. Avoid culturally biased images; instead, maintain a graphic library for substitute, culturally appropriate pictures.