09 Jul 2019 21:11 IST

Why multilingual marketing is the biggest trend of 2019

Cheaper smartphones, affordable data lead to huge number of internet users from Tier 1 and 2 cities

Based on estimates by Google, by 2021, nine out of 10 Internet users will be consuming content in regional languages. In a country of over a billion people and a million languages and dialects, no one language has the capacity to bring us all together. Given our size and diversity, brands are starting to engage users in their local language as a way to get their attention. For a long time brands had an English-led digital marketing strategy but that’s all about to change.

Cheaper smartphones and drastically reduced data plan rates have given rise to a skyrocketing number of Indian internet users going online, particularly from Tier I and Tier II cities. That’s where multilingual marketing comes in — a new and effective strategy to engage with India’s next billion internet users.

So what is multilingual marketing?

Let’s start with the basics. Simply put, multilingual marketing is a digital marketing strategy that is adapted to account for multiple other languages in various parts of the world. In fact, if you’re a company in India, then multilingual marketing will be the difference between reaching a limited audience base versus impacting your intended target audience. Multilingual or multicultural marketing will help you take into account the cultural values and nuances of vernacular languages. This strategy can give your brand the benefit of building trust with potential customers who may not know your brand or consider it to be ‘foreign’.

Many brands just translate existing content into a regional language but they should, in fact, be ideating independently to localise the content. By simply translating copy into several other languages, brands often miss out on important intricacies of culture. Understanding the target audience and customising your communication for a language they consume is the key to success.

Why should brands focus on it?

As per latest estimates there are around 550 million internet users in India, making it one of the fastest growing base of internet users in the world, adding nearly eight to ten million new users every month. With new regional language users coming online monthly, your target audience will only keep growing from here on. And several brands, including one of our biggest finance clients, Cholamandalam Finance, have witnessed how a multilingual video can rake up 2.3 million views and 80,524 shares, 94 per cent of which were completely organic.

People are much more comfortable consuming content in their native language. So, connecting with them in that language is guaranteed to lead to better engagement.

Growing importance of voice search

According to Google’s Year in Search report 2017, India has shown a 270 per cent growth in voice searches. Voice, video and vernacular languages are among a few guaranteed ways to scale up your business in 2019 through Google. In fact, a recent KPMG survey shows that a staggering 88 per cent of online users said they would click on a multilingual ad rather than one in English.

From a brand’s perspective, voice search marketing is an effortless and easy way to interact and engage with your consumers rather than typing on a small-screen device. While Indic keyboards are available and act as a guide for new users, voice is a natural way to ask a question or query in a preferred language.

Search engine boost

Multilingual searches in India are a prime example of high demand and low supply. While the number of regional language queries have been increasing exponentially, the number of websites equipped to cater to these searches are few and not of optimal quality. Since there is still relatively low competition for regional language keywords, brands can take advantage of this by optimising their content for these searches.

When done right, this will boost organic rankings and improve SERP (search engine results page) ranking locally. By doing so, not only will you immediately meet the needs of your new audience, but you will also find favour with Google through user-centric content. For more information, you can check out the basics of Search Engine Optimisation here!

Tamil is among the fastest growing Indian languages, along with Telugu, Marathi and Bengali. According to Google, these languages will account for about 30 per cent of non-English Internet users by 2020. Whether you’re running ads in vernacular languages or converting whole websites, a multilingual marketing approach will give you an edge over the competition by helping you rank higher.

So how should brands execute a multilingual campaign?

Understand: Every target audience is different and has different needs and requirements. The same applies to target audiences who speak various languages. Its important to understand what makes your audience tick and how they will perceive your brand in their vernacular.

Ideate: Put on your multilingual thinking caps and formulate original and customised campaign ideas in the local language of your audience. Remember, no two languages are alike and what sounds good in Tamil, won’t sound good in Hindi or make sense to people in Marathi. Depending on the language you have chosen, get a team of multilingual strategists to jot down several ideas that are unique and customised to your brand, the product and potential consumers.

Create: Now on to execution! Create an effective multilingual strategy to intensify your digital marketing efforts. Every brand has its own voice and style. That’s why, no matter what your strategy – be it ads, videos, landing pages or websites, ensure your strategy reflects the local flavour of the region and your brand’s personality. This boosts the chances of your content ranking organically and going viral.

Amplify: We aren’t done yet! Brands also have to amplify the content and make sure it reaches the right audience. With targeted advertising, you can target people based on demographic, previous buying history or, in this case, language. This will ensure your strategy gets the most bang for its buck and it starts raining leads for your brand!

Here’s a quick example! Ashok Leyland, one of India’s leading truck manufacturers, wanted to express its gratitude to truck drivers for their relentless efforts. To create an emotional connect with their audience, Ashok Leyland wanted to make an engaging video to shed light on the fact that our Diwali celebrations every year are possible thanks to the tireless endeavours of our truck drivers.

We recommended a vox-pop video in Hindi — this would ensure that the content was interactive and engaging as well as in a language familiar to most truck drivers and their kin. The video titled “Diwali Ke Asli Hero Kaun Hai?” was conversational in style — multiple people were questioned on who they thought worked tirelessly though Diwali, while the rest of the country was immersed in festivities. Common responses included soldiers, doctors and milk vendors. Very few of the respondents were able to guess the role of Indian truck drivers, continually delivering raw materials across the country from various production hubs.

Using the hashtag #YehDiwaliBadiNirali, we promoted the video on all of Ashok Leyland’s social handles. The video became one of the most trending vernacular vox-pop videos of 2018, garnering some whopping results — over 2.5 lakh views across platforms, with 3.1K comments and 400+ shares! This multilingual video campaign also helped Ashok Leyland up its goodwill and social responsibility among stakeholders and the general public.

Such results are more than enough proof that multilingual marketing, along with creating compelling videos, can not only expand your reach but also help in telling your brand story effectively. In the end, it’s all about having high-quality content that is localised, and is seen by as many members of your targeted audience as possible.