How to get your message across to international customers

Posted by TP 6th January 2022 Tips and advice

Tips and advice

In this guest blog, our professional translation partner, Peak Translations, outlines the key considerations when getting your message across to an international audience.

Every successful business strategy requires periodic review. Only by assessing what is working, will you be able to take the decision on where to accelerate your activity; and similarly, where it might make sense to reduce your efforts. Assessing the impact of your messaging, of course, forms a large part of measuring your performance. If a campaign for a certain product or service has not generated the interest expected, how much of this can be attributed to not using the right language or tone, or pitching at a level that does not match your audience’s knowledge of the subject?

It is reasonably straightforward to gauge whether or not a communications strategy or campaign in your native language hits the right note; after all, you are often surrounded by colleagues who speak the same language and, like you, will be able to put themselves easily in the shoes of your customer. Understanding the nuances of a language is instinctive: you know that there are certain expressions that may be well-used in some parts of the country or world but that seem completely alien elsewhere; you know when it is appropriate to use first names in a communication; and you can see when a particular word jars or is out of kilter with the rest of the text.

Communicating with your customers in their native language leaves no doubt that you’re committed to them. But it’s not enough to simply translate your existing marketing and product material. Truly getting your message across requires an expert understanding of context and sector terminology.

We’ve put together a few pointers to ensure your translated content is not only read but understood:

  • Creative content
    The most impactful marketing materials are the ones that speak directly to your target customers. Using the wrong terminology or reference can quickly alienate your audience. Here’s a few to look out for when targeting international markets:

    • Localisation: the same word may mean something different (eg. a flannel in the US is something to be worn, not to wash with as in the UK). There may also be differences in forms of address, with the informal ‘you’ used much more frequently in Spain than in Latin America. Consider too if your product or service is aimed at the same audience in each market. Your message may need to be adapted accordingly.
    • Measurements: Like most of the world, Europe adheres to the metric system of measurement (kilometres, kilograms and Celsius). The US still uses the imperial system (miles, pounds and Fahrenheit) and the UK a combination of the two.
    • 24 v 12 hour clock: whilst the 12 hour clock as the written and spoken system of time is prevalent in the UK and former British Empire, others adopt the 24 hour clock as their one system. A third group, typically in Europe and Latin America, favour the 12 hour clock in colloquial speech and the 24 hour clock in formal speech and writing.
    • Calendar: some countries may use their own calendar or a variation of the Gregorian calendar. Thailand uses the Thai solar calendar which counts the years in the Buddhist era; Iran and Afghanistan use the Solar Hijri calendar which begins with the March Equinox.
  • Technical or medical content
    Again, who is the end user of your product? Whether it’s providing instructions to use your product or safety warnings, accurate and comprehensible content is paramount; not only to maintain your professional reputation but to avoid any risks to safety caused by inaccurate use.


  • Legal content
    Have you considered which legislation might be specific to a particular country or territory and how it might differ to that in the UK? Any differences will certainly impact upon the messages you need to convey to those markets. Do you need specific safety information translated, for example, or privacy notices on websites?


Take time to research the background of your chosen territory, and your translated content will truly speak to your audience.

More information on the power of effective translations in communicating with foreign audiences is available from our professional translation partner, Peak Translations. Or to find out more about how localisation can support your global paid media strategy, reach out to the Clickoo team for an informal chat.

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