Why Marketers Must Develop In-Language Content for France (and Other European Regions)
Wait, the world isn’t fluent in English? The nerve!
Bonjour! Je m’appelle Byrony. Je suis Américaine. J’habite à Londres.
30 hours of French class this past couple of weeks and that’s about all I got. I actually looked up that I spelled American right for the feminine spelling because I wasn’t sure I was right. As Publisher of France it is my mission in 2016 to learn French. I figured after 2 years of publishing the country that the least I could do was put some effort into learning the language. Every class as the teacher made me pronounce “étudiant” again and again [apparently there is no “s” in the French version of student] all I could think was how do people learn a second language? The more French I learned, the more I kept thinking how screwed up the English language is to learn. For example, the French word for happy is “content”. In English “content” can be used as an adjective to mean “pleased with the situation” or you can use it as a noun for “article of writing” or even a verb to mean “happy”. I won’t even go into their/there/they’re…….what is wrong with the English language? And how do people ever learn it?
Can you have “globalisation” or “localisation” without in-language content?
The more I think of my situation, the more I wonder how “universal marketing” was ever a concept that was considered in the marketing profession? In graduate school we debated globalisation versus localisation marketing for months. Looking back at the arguments I think about how language rarely came up. Cultural differentiation absolutely, but language barriers didn’t pay into the thought. Why you ask? Because as masters students in marketing the universal thought was “of course we would change the language to the local market”. It made sense and, yet, I find today it is a much debated conversation in B2B marketing.
The case for an in-language content strategy in France (and other European countries)
In my current role I spend hours every week defending localisation and, especially, local language content. “Why do we need French content? Surely everyone in France can read this English content.” For those of you who have ever thought this way, here are some statistics that may surprise you:
- The English language isn’t the most spoken language in the world. It actually is the third most spoken language behind Mandarin and Spanish.
- The United States, according to a February 2015 study by Instituto Cervantes, is the second largest Spanish speaking country in the world with 41 million people speaking Spanish as their first language [11 million people are bilingual].
- France has 0.01% of people who have English as their first language. Though 39% have studied English, France has been listed as having the worst English skills of any European country.
If we look at the above it would seem reasonable that we should start promoting Spanish to the United States because surely they all understand it and can read it. As someone who studied Spanish for two years in high school I’m going to give a resounding “no” answer to this question. So, why do we expect the same for France and other European countries? I can’t answer that statement except to leave you with what I know about email marketing from TechTarget’s own promotional efforts
- In France, French content gets 10x the performance over English content. [It’s 4x for German to DACH.]
- Users in France average 1.4 to 1.7 content downloads per user per campaign when engaged with French content. That’s above the norm for US and UK users for English content.
- You are 100% guaranteed that a user will understand your message if promoting in-language.
If you need me feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn. I’ll just be over here embarrassing my way through learning French. À bientôt!
French content image via Shutterstock