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Why Copywriting Is a Key Part of Marketing Translation

Updated: Dec 29, 2020

As a translator, a lot of my work involves marketing translation. From fashion to sales materials, to tourism, everybody needs to reach out to their customers. Businesses need marketing copy to be persuasive, so they can sell their products. How can copywriting skills improve marketing translation services?

What is marketing translation?

Marketing is the process of persuading consumers to choose your product or service. To choose you over your competitors. Businesses create marketing materials to reach out to customers. The best marketing copywriters understand the target readers’ motivations. Their copy connects with the customer on an emotional level.

Translating marketing materials without understanding the target market can create a negative impression of the brand and product. And leaving it to Google Translate can have disastrous consequences.

Marketing translation involves creating copy that connects with the reader in the target language. It needs to be high-quality copy, not just a literal translation. Who best knows how to create high-quality copy? A copywriter.

What is copywriting?

According to Copyblogger it is “the art and science of strategically delivering words (whether written or spoken) that get people to take some form of action”. Marketing translators who understand copywriting create materials that motivate customers. The result is persuasive copy that gets results.

What makes good copy?

For marketing to be successful, it needs to use good copy. If your marketing materials aren’t persuasive, they won’t achieve your aim. The target reader is at the heart of good copy. A copywriter needs to know who the reader is. Then they have to write for that reader. Because this will affect the tone and the content of the writing.

Writing with the target reader in mind

Marketing copy needs to be tailored to the reader and the purpose. The copywriter needs to build up a picture of their target reader. How old are they? Where are they from? What’s their level of education? What’s their social status? How do they speak? What are they interested in? Get these things wrong and the copy falls flat.

If you’re writing about health insurance for expat pensioners, you’ll write differently than for a text aimed at 20-somethings. The same goes for marketing translation. The translator must have the reader in mind to be able to write a suitable text for them. A marketing translator who is also a copywriter knows how to reach out to the target reader in their translation.

Short and snappy

People are busy. They don’t have time to read endless reams of information. They need concise details they can glance through quickly. This means short sentences. Simple words. Jargon and complicated grammatical structures will mean the reader stops reading. To keep the reader on board, use flowing text. Start sentences with and, but and so. It makes the text easier to read and less likely to be abandoned.

Grab the reader’s attention from the start

If your marketing copy doesn’t have an interesting title, it won’t get read. Successful marketing materials start with a title that makes the reader want to continue.

The problem comes when your snappy title that uses a play on words in the source language doesn’t work in the target language. Marketing often uses humour to make a connection. Jokes are notoriously difficult to translate. A marketing translator with copywriting skills has more experience of crafting texts like this, so they’ll be more agile in coming up with a good solution.

What does copywriting add to marketing translation?

A lot of my work involves marketing translation. To offer my clients a better service, I trained as a copywriter. It gave me an insight into how to write persuasively for different audiences. In marketing translation, excellent writing skills and creativity are important. Marketing translators are experts at adapting copy into another language.

Whereas technical translators need to be accurate, marketing translation is all about brand values and tone of voice. Meaning is translated, although the actual words may change. Marketing translators with copywriting abilities have an added skill set to offer. They can make sure your text does what you need it to in the target language.

How else do marketing translators use copywriting skills?


Understanding copywriting doesn’t just help with marketing translation. Knowing how to create persuasive texts is also part of transcreation. You may have heard of transcreation, it’s something of a buzz word at the moment. Transcreation is not the same as marketing translation. It’s best described as a combination of copywriting and translation.


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