The Ultimate Guide to Creating a Multilingual Survey

No matter if you’re a big corporation known worldwide or a small company planning to go international, you need to know the foreign market well enough before you take any action. 

And what is the best way to gain as much information as possible about your foreign audience as a survey? 

Conducting customer surveys is one of the key effective practices in marketing. According to the statistics by Vision Critical

  • 86% of customers are more likely to participate in a survey to make a change 
  • 87% claim that they want to have a say when it comes to their favorite brand’s future and products
  • brands find surveys to be one of the most effective ways to enable a two-way conversation with customers

Creating a simple monolingual survey is already a useful practice for your business. But taking it one step further and making it multilingual opens you to a wide variety of advantages:

  • A better understanding of the local audience and market. No matter where your company functions, there’s always a community in your area that speaks a different language. In the U.S., for instance, it’s been a normal practice to conduct any surveys in two languages, English and Spanish, due to a dense population of Spanish-speaking citizens. Thus, doing a multilingual survey can help you better understand the needs of your local audience. 
  • A more profound understanding of the foreign audience. What does this audience think of the product you offer? Does it fit in their daily routine? How do they want to see it help them? If you’re planning to enter a foreign market, getting answers to these questions can ensure a safe landing of your company in the foreign market. 
  • An opportunity to avoid mistakes and embarrassment. Language always represents culture. What is normal for English-speaking people, may not be appropriate for Chinese-speaking people, for instance. This is all a matter of localization. Bad examples of localization can be found everywhere. In the 80’s, for instance, KFC tried to enter the Chinese market but failed to properly translate their “finger-lickin’ good” slogan, having come up with a slogan that translated “eat your fingers off”:
Image credit: Slideshare

It’s been more than 30 years, and everyone still remembers this embarrassing story. Conducting a localized multilingual survey establishes communication between your company and a foreign audience from the very beginning, helping you avoid similar mistakes. 

It is clear that utilizing surveys to improve marketing strategies is a way to establish a liaison with the foreign audience. 

But where should you start?

Let’s coach you through a simple, easy-to-follow guide to creating a multilingual survey. 

1. Establish Your Target Audience

Every marketing campaign involves studying and establishing your target audience. Preparing and conducting a multilingual survey is no exception. 

Essentially, this step includes preparing a customer profile. But since we’re talking about people who speak a foreign language and live in a foreign culture, this process will have its peculiarities. 

A typical customer profile includes:

  • Demographics. Take into consideration a typical person representing a foreign culture. Describe their age, gender identity, income (what is a general income for a position this person occupies in their country), marital status, education (taking into consideration local education statistics), and their job. 
  • Hobbies and favorite activities. Describe what this audience persona is fascinated about (it should ideally be tied to how your products/solutions can contribute to these hobbies or activities). 
  • Issues and obstacles. Describe, what obstacles this audience persona has to overcome on a daily basis. 
  • Solution. Describe, why the product is unique to this audience persona and how it can potentially solve their daily obstacles. 

Let’s hypothesize. So, let’s say you’re offering a program that can be downloaded to a browser to hide inappropriate content and disguise ads, and you’re planning to enter the Russian market. Here’s how your potential audience persona may look like. 

Audience analysis also involves the analysis of the target market. What are other solutions that are similar to yours? Are they affordable? Do they perform well? 

All this information is important for creating a multilingual survey. It allows you to:

  • Ask more targeted questions that will provide you with clear answers as to what the foreign audience expects from your product. 
  • Gives you a better understanding of who you want to target. This way, you’ll only ask the right people and get more accurate data. 

2. Cooperate with Localization Professionals

We’ve already mentioned an example of bad localization. And, unfortunately, KFC is not the only example of embarrassing situations caused by incorrect localization. 

What’s the difference between translation and localization?

  • Translation often presupposes converting a source text into a target text without taking into consideration important cultural aspects. 
  • Localization, on the other hand, not only presupposes the translation itself, but also a change of some parts of the target text to make it more relatable to the target audience. 
  • As a result, localization deals with even the smallest details, like measurements and date and time formats. 

Today, localization is requested more often than translation. “Many companies have their websites localized, as it contributes to the positive customer experience,” says the Head of Marketing at PickWriters, a translation review site. 

When creating a multilingual survey, invest in hiring localization professionals. These are either locals that speak the foreign language or professionals who studied the foreign language and culture. 

Either way, cooperating with a localization specialist will help you avoid any misunderstandings and confusing situations. A company that doesn’t pay attention to cultural specificities to the foreign audience they’re about to survey can damage its reputation with a threat to lose a chance to be successful on a foreign market. 

3. Make Your Multilingual Survey Accessible

Lastly, make sure that the foreign audience can access your survey from any device.

Don’t disregard creating a mobile version of your website. More and more people are expected to access online resources through their mobile devices. For instance, in 2018, 58% of site visits were from smartphones and tablets. 

People most of their free time using their mobile devices, so make sure you’ll target them with your survey through the means that are more suitable for them. The results of your survey do not only depend on the correctness of the localization and targeting the right audience but also on how convenient it was for the participants to take this survey. 

The Bottom Line

Conducting a multilingual survey is a great practice for businesses that are interested in conquering foreign markets. 

Studying the foreign audience, doing proper localization of survey to make sure that it fits the cultural requirements and letting the target audience access your survey from any devices that are the most convenient for them ensures the successful results.