Once the initial decision is taken to pursue international opportunities, igaming companies frequently want to go global, fast.
As an affiliate, you have to keep up. With more than 6,500 languages spoken around the world, and only about 25% of internet users being native English speakers, the call from providers to localise content is only going to get stronger.
It may not be immediately visible, but international gaming brands are already among the most international firms around – and it’s not just a few European languages that are involved.
To give an idea of the industry’s multilingual scale, at my company we handle dozens of languages at a time for most of our clients. A typical project includes 25-30 language versions, but some big market players require over 50 – that’s certainly more than most ecommerce leaders, for example.
We offer support on both sides of the equation, working with operators and affiliates alike, helping them reach the widest global audience. We also love sharing insights with our clients on how to customise their content for various territories most effectively and efficiently.
However, not every brand will take the right steps or be focused enough to fully capitalise on international opportunities – there are many cases of fatal half-measures where big plans are undercut. With that in mind, here are my five pieces of advice for affiliates looking to ramp up their offer for international audiences.
1. Do it!
Do not view localisation as a ‘nice to have’ but non-critical option. There is ample evidence that internet users are much more likely to buy a product when information about it is available in their native language: recent research shows that over 70% of consumers have a greater chance of clicking ‘buy’ when they can read about the product in their mother tongue.
The same goes for online casinos – what better way to boost your credibility and consequently increase traffic than speaking to the customers in their own language?
The trust factor cannot be under-emphasised, especially in newly regulated markets where users have real concerns about not only how to play, but how to be sure they’ll get paid out if they win.
2. Localise your URLs and metas
This might seem obvious but even in this day and age it can still be overlooked. Flagging your language versions to Google with the use of hreflang tags will allow you to market similar content in various languages without being penalised.
Localising titles, meta descriptions and headers correctly, in keeping with the character limits and using the appropriate keywords, will ensure that your organic search results are relevant, engaging and lead to those all-important clicks.
To compete in SEO, once again we come back to the topic of trust. Localised content that responds to the queries of players in different countries is the main source of ‘free’ traffic we see in new markets – a key consideration for affiliates.
3. Use the right keywords
It’s important to use the right keywords for each language. That does not mean simply taking a list of keywords in your source language and translating them using an online dictionary (yes, some people actually do that!).
We know that the way users phrase their search queries varies from territory to territory, so our specialists do not just translate but localise key words and phrases by doing extensive research in the main local search engines to maximise SEO performance for priority pages.
In this effort it’s not enough to just have accurate translations – the end content must reflect the keywords, topics and phrasing you can practically compete for, backed up by an assessment of what the value of that traffic is.
This need for context, industry insights and human understanding brings us to my fourth tip…
4. Do not use automated solutions to translate your content
Technology is great and it is impossible to imagine today’s translation industry existing without numerous sophisticated tech solutions such as CAT tools and translation management systems.
However, localisation itself is still best left to humans, especially when it comes to affiliate marketing. The right tone of voice and a natural, native flow of the text are those important factors that will help you attract, engage and retain users.
Yes, Google Translate can be great if you want to get the gist of the latest news from abroad, but remember: robots can’t transcreate.
5. Pay attention to small details
Localisation is not only about the language; it’s also about currencies, availability of special offers and payment systems in the target territory, the popularity of specific betting markets, etc.
When a UK bookmaker’s first deposit bonus is promoted in Austria or Poland, will it still be in GBP? What payment methods must always be mentioned in a text targeted at India?
Does it make sense to point out a betting company’s variety of cricket markets when addressing customers in Japan? It can be surprising how often these nuances get overlooked resulting in texts that might be well-written, but just slightly ‘off’, which drastically reduces engagement.
Whether working with an agency, or selecting team members yourself, it’s important to use native-speaking linguists and SEO experts residing in the target territories, so they can scrutinise details like these and advise on the best course of action.
In marketing, linguistic work always goes hand-in-hand with wider cultural consultations and having experts on the ground can be truly priceless.
For internationally minded affiliates, it often costs more to carry out poor localisation followed by successive ‘fixes’ than it does for good localisation from the outset – but not every brand is ready to take that step.
For those who want to move furthest, fastest, quality is key and can result in competitive advantage, even in the most crowded of markets.
Zhanna Zaytseva is the director of global translation and localisation agency ICS-translate. Sister company to ICS-digital and part of the wider Spotlight Sports Group, ICS-translate specialises in highly regulated industries and is the ISO-accredited translation partner of many leading igaming operators, affiliates and game providers.