Author: Sarah Mitchell

Sarah Mitchell is Head of Content Strategy at Lush Digital Media and founder of Global Copywriting. She develops content marketing and community engagement strategies for clients in a variety of industries. Sarah works in Perth, Western Australia and frequently speaks on topics related to Content Marketing and Social Media. She's also the Australian editor for Chief Content Officer magazine. Follow her on Twitter: @globalcopywrite.

By sarah-mitchell published November 24, 2015

How to Get in Front of the Podcasting Trend [Growth Tips and Tools]

podcasting-trend-cover

In a content-cluttered world, could podcasting be the next big play for content marketers? Maybe “big play”’ is a stretch – a survey from Edison Research and Triton Digital shows consumer awareness about podcasting is flat. Yet the same research also shows podcasting holds broad appeal. Men and women listen with equal frequency, and there is no age barrier among listeners – all age groups are equally represented.

Podcasting is particularly appealing for marketers because regular listeners tend to be better educated and have higher household income than the general population. What’s more, podcasts have particular appeal among commuters. Consider that high-wage earners in London commute for over an hour on average. And in major U.S. cities like New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Boston, commute times are 30 minutes on average … the perfect amount of time to make podcasting a daily habit.

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By sarah-mitchell published September 7, 2014

Brand Storytelling: Turning Casual Fans into Passionate Followers

photo collection-people in striped tightsMany brands build communities and even acquire fans, but precious few turn fandom into cult followers through their marketing strategy. But one notable exception is Black Milk, a quirky Australian fashion brand, which uses brand storytelling to chart the future of retail, social cliques, and the so-called “third shelf.”

The great equalizer in attracting the new fashionista set is content, and no brand understands that better than Black Milk Clothing. The online retailer sells Spandex clothing (primarily tights) and is rapidly expanding to dresses, skirts, and workout gear.  What’s so special about that? Black Milk is revolutionizing how online clothing brands use social channels and consumer-generated content to sell online. And it’s getting bankable attention — without fancy shop windows or big advertising campaigns. In fact, Black Milk has never advertised, never promoted a post, or paid for a “like.”Continue Reading

By sarah-mitchell published February 7, 2014

How to Prepare Your Content Marketing for a Global Audience

illustration of globe filled with peopleHere’s an eye-opener: Less than 6 percent of the world’s population speaks English well enough to conduct business. Furthermore, many who speak English don’t know how to read it. In fact, 96 percent of the world’s consumers do not live in the United States.

Scott Abel, consultant and content futurist, explains the content marketing significance of these realities: “Many of us treat the worldwide web like the Ohio web or the American English web. Marketers are overwhelmed and unprepared to produce content for a global audience.” Continue Reading

By sarah-mitchell published August 6, 2013

The 2013 Content Marketer Awards: 7 Inspiring Industry Leaders

content marketer awardsEach year, CMI honors the individual content marketers who inspire us to achieve more. These notable content experts caught our eye in 2013. Join us at Content Marketing World from September 9–12, where one of these award winners will be named Content Marketer of the Year for 2013.Continue Reading

By sarah-mitchell published May 9, 2012

Managing Large Teams of Writers Under Short Deadlines

(Or Lessons from My Big Fat Content Marketing Project)

Last year I led a content marketing project involving more than 700 pieces of original content developed by 15 writers across three continents in 60 days — a careers and industry guide for the Australian Mines and Metals Association (AMMA) online jobs board. In two short months, I learned the do-it-or-die essentials for a large-scale content marketing kick-off.Continue Reading

By sarah-mitchell published March 9, 2011

Lost in Translation? An 11-Step Checklist for Localizing Content

We’ve all had a giggle over a bad translation. Examples of unintentionally funny gaffes on assembly instructions and product descriptions abound on the Internet. But it’s not funny when it happens to you.

What can you do?

As the old saying goes, the devil is in the detail. With that in mind, here is the checklist I use when localizing content. Make sure each of these points is checked off your list before you launch content in a different country or geography.

Paper

American standard paper is 8 ½ x 11 inches. The rest of the world operates on an A4 paper size, 21 x 29.7 cm or, roughly, 8 ¼ x 11 ¾ inches. It’s a small difference with a huge impact. American-sized documents do not easily fit into envelopes or binders in other countries. Your documents must be resized – and possibly redesigned – to ensure they print properly in your foreign market.

Hole punches

America uses a standard 3-hole punch. Most other countries use a 2-hole punch and are not aligned with the American standard. If you’re providing content to be inserted into a binder, make sure you’re punching the holes in the right place.

Spelling

Many words are spelled differently in the United States than in other English speaking countries. While American audiences tend to find these differences charming, foreign audiences bristle at the “arrogance” of not taking spelling into consideration. You must go through your content with an editorial eagle-eye to find these differences. Set your spell checker to the language and country where you plan on publishing and make the changes required.

Spelling traps include:

  • Words ending in ‘or’, e.g.  color versus colour
  • words ending in ‘ize’, e.g. optimize versus optimise
  • Medical terms, e.g. pediatrician versus paediatrician
  • Botany/gardening terms, e.g.  cilantro versus coriander
  • Food terms, e.g. zucchini versus courgette

Slang/colloquialism

Running afoul of local slang and colloquialisms can be embarrassing. I discovered this firsthand when I announced to a group of my British male colleagues that I was feeling particularly ‘spunky.’ I meant full of energy; they interpreted it as having a heightened libido.  I was horrified when a mature gentleman asked to borrow a rubber; he wanted an eraser. In South Africa, I couldn’t find a ‘robot’ and got lost on my first day of work. I had no idea I was looking for a traffic light. You get the picture.

Abbreviations and titles

If you’ve ever read a foreign newspaper, you know how frustrating it can be to encounter abbreviations or titles you don’t understand. Government,  law enforcement, medicine and the legal profession use different titles for the same job in different countries. For example, attorney, lawyer, barrister, judge and solicitor all refer to professionals employed in a court of law. Do your readers in every country know what people hold jobs with MP, DC, GP or DO abbreviations in their title?

Units of measure

While most of the world comfortably operates on the metric system, the USA is still using the old Imperial system for weight, measurement and temperature. Your documents will be meaningless to people who don’t how long a yard is, what 80 degrees Fahrenheit feels like, or how much 45 pounds weigh.  Use an online metric conversion program to make life easier for your readers.

Cooking

If you’re publishing recipes, cookbooks or anything to do with food preparation, you’re going to want to spend some time localizing your content. America – and to a lesser extent Britain – still uses Imperial measurements while nearly everyone else is on the metric system. A good online cooking converter will help you convert ingredients, temperatures, weights and volumes. Keep in mind the way food products are packaged can trip you up, too. Asking for a ‘stick of butter’ is sure to confuse anyone outside the USA. A fluid pint varies in volume from country to country. A punnet is common in Australia but unknown in the USA (it’s a small basket often used when selling fruits).

Number formats

A dead give-away your content hasn’t been localized is if your telephone numbers reflect the American standard of (123) 456-7890. In Australia, we have 2-digit area codes and 8-digit phone numbers and note them like this (01) 2345 6789. Our postal codes are 4-digits long. Make sure your documents are changed to reflect these differences. It’s  important to make sure your online forms can handle different formats for critical numbers. I’ve given up ordering online more than once because an American website insists on a 5-digit zip code and won’t let me complete an order.

Currency

While business is pretty good at getting their pricing translated into foreign currency, they often fall down when expressing the value of things. Dollars and cents have no meaning in many parts of the world. Even more confusing, many people have no point of reference for a quarter, dime or nickel. I wish I had a quarter for every time someone asked me how much a dime or a nickel was worth!

Fiscal Years

The financial calendar varies widely from country to country as do tax years. If your content deals with finances, make sure you’re not confusing things by referring to the wrong business calendar. This is especially important if you’re running year-end sales or promotions.  Don’t expect your local market to share your fiscal year or tax year.

Accents

Americans love accents but the world does not reciprocate the feeling. If you’re producing videos or podcasts for foreign markets, hire a voice-over specialist with a native accent even if it’s the same language you speak. Your audience will appreciate the consideration. More importantly, they’ll be able to easily understand the point you’re trying to get across. You want them focused on your content, not the way the narrator is speaking.

A couple of notes on translation

If you’re distributing your content into a foreign-language market, get a native-speaking translator. Don’t rely on free Internet translation services: they give literal translations but don’t consider the way people actually speak. I once heard the late founder of the Body Shop, Anita Roddick, speak about a debacle with a major rollout of a ‘mother and baby’ line of products. The South American translation, performed in the U.K., offended everyone when the product names took on a profane slur against motherhood.

If your plan is to publish only in countries using the same speaking language, you still need to employ local services to ‘translate’ your content. Spanish speaking countries vary greatly in their usage of the language. China has several different dialects. People from Brazil have a tough time understanding people from Portugal even though they all speak Portuguese. The worst language offences occur in English-speaking countries where spelling differences, slang and colloquialisms can render your content useless. At the very least, it shows a lack of consideration for your potential clients.

For an example of my latest localization project, read the Australian edition of Chief Content Officer.

Do you have a good story about localization or any points to add to this checklist?

By sarah-mitchell published March 2, 2011

Produce Local, Distribute Global: 3 Keys to Your Content Marketing Localization Plan

Localization is a topic frequently on my mind. As the Australian editor of the Chief Content Officer (CCO) magazine I’ve been part of a team working on the inaugural issue.  It’s been an eye-opening experience for a bunch of seasoned content professionals.

The Australian and European versions of CCO are now available! Read them online and subscribe to future issues!Continue Reading

By sarah-mitchell published October 25, 2010

7 Ways to Get More Value From Your eNewsletter

Email marketing is one of the most popular and effective ways for businesses to share their content and connect with customers. Besides being relatively easy, eNewsletters provide good analytics along with a low-cost way to help you manage customer engagement. Your subscriber list is a goldmine for your business – the bigger the list, the more potential to achieve desired results.

What’s more, marketers rate eNewsletters as one of the more effective content marketing tactics.Continue Reading

By sarah-mitchell published September 23, 2010

How to Make the Case for Design in Content Marketing

What is the biggest problem you face in your content marketing strategy? In the B2B Content Marketing: 2010 Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends study published last week, 66% of respondents identified a challenge with the production of the content. Split between three areas, content marketers admitted to being worried about:

  • Producing engaging content – 36%
  • Producing enough content – 21%
  • Producing a variety of content – 9%

Who can’t identify with these concerns? What surprised me is that my biggest challenge wasn’t even mentioned in the study, and it’s a problem shared by all of us. People aren’t reading. Continue Reading

By sarah-mitchell published August 17, 2010

What Content Marketers Can Learn from an Australian Non-Profit

One of the hallmarks of a good content marketing campaign is that it’s designed to pull the customer in. Developing content that will engage your prospective customers isn’t always easy. Getting your audience to take action on your behalf is even harder – a seemingly impossible task. The aged care industry in Australia found a good solution to do both at the same time.Continue Reading