AI Translations in Marketing: Assessing the Potential and Limitations for International Success

The artificial intelligence market currently has a value of about 100 billion US dollars. But that’s not it. The market is expected to grow to $2 trillion by 2030. That’s a twentyfold increase!

Like every other business operation, AI has also found its way into marketing. Influencer Marketing Hub’s report found that 61.4% of marketers have used AI in marketing operations.

But how effective is AI in marketing? Does it have any potential for niche requirements, such as a marketing translation service? In this article, we discuss the limitations and potential of AI & machine translations in marketing.

How Good Are AI Tools For Marketing?

If you have yet to encounter AI, you’re probably not paying close attention.

Let’s take chatbots as an example. You’ve probably asked one to book you an appointment. Or, you may have used it to receive instant responses.

Coming across AI in marketing is inevitable at this point, especially with 80% of industry experts using it in online marketing activities. But how well do these AI tools work?

In most cases, they work like a charm. Whether you need to personalise marketing messages or send automated emails, AI tools do the job at superhuman speeds with little to no room for error.

But here’s the catch. AI in marketing doesn’t extend to all aspects. A known limitation of AI in marketing concerns translation.

AI In Translation for Marketing

When marketing to your global audience, you should translate your marketing material and website content accordingly. This is where AI needs to catch up.

You would know how inaccurate Google Translate can be if you speak more than one language. It does not capture the nuances of the language it is translating and often gets common words wrong due to its limited vocabulary. The same is true for AI marketing tools too.

Being a marketer, you cannot afford poor or incorrect translations. For one, this allows miscommunication to creep in.

Customers may misunderstand your marketing message. Not only this but, your message may not resonate with them because it doesn’t sound how you wanted it to.

Putting AI to Test

Let’s put ChatGPT to the test.

Suppose you’re a skincare brand catering to audiences in the UK and the Netherlands. You want to translate the following marketing message into Dutch.

”Try our new and improved skincare formula for beautiful and younger-looking skin. Experience the magic of our naturally-sourced ingredients today.” 

When we put this through ChatGPT, it gives us a result. In OpenAI’s defence, the translation is pretty accurate.

But here’s the issue; it’s a textbook translation. Since the tool is programmed to do so, it translates every word using its corresponding Dutch word in the dictionary.

Doing so loses the nuance and appeal necessary to get the marketing message across. It also uses complicated words that your target audience may need help understanding.

Most importantly, ChatGPT makes the tone quite formal. As a skincare brand, you want to engage with your customers using friendly, personal, and casual language.

So, what’s the verdict?

While AI translation tools may work for personal-use translation tasks, they could be better for commercial, legal, or business purposes.

Instead, it would be best if you leaned on the expertise of human marketing translation agencies. Here’s why:

  • Since these professional linguists speak the target language, they can properly convey your tone, nuance, and message.
  • They can relay the cultural undertones and trends through translation.
  • They can provide suitable alternatives for terms or messages that cannot be translated from English to another language.

Transcreation: A Challenge for AI Translations

While AI may have advanced a lot in recent years, it’s still not at par with expert translation agencies with large networks of certified and experienced human translators, such as Gengo, TS24 or TransPefect.

Transcreation means adapting or translating a message from one language to another while retaining its context, tone, and intent.

Human translators can accomplish this. AI cannot.

For example, Google Translate translates ‘finger-licking good’ to ‘eat your fingers off’ in Simplified Chinese.

This example shows how far behind AI is in transcreation. What happens when AI makes these mistakes? Two main things.

  • First, you may be treading on offensive territory. It may be an innocent mistake on your side. But the confused, hurt, or offended customers who leave your brand won’t care about that.
  • Second, your marketing message will be lost in translation. You may lose the conversational expressions and cultural context you want to convey.

On the other hand, a marketing translation service provider can keep these issues at bay. When a native speaker translates your marketing message, they preserve the regional expressions, cultural context, and other nuances.

As a result, your message reaches the right audience minus any misunderstandings or misinterpretations.

Do AI Tools Have Any Potential in the Translation Space?

AI may get marketing translation wrong. But that’s not to say it’s completely useless.

It can be used in marketing for other operations, such as content creation. 12.3% of Influencer Marketing Hub’s survey respondents use marketing for conversion optimisation. Meanwhile, 11.7% use it for customer service and 12.2% for predictive analysis.

AI even has applications in translation. For example, the US Army uses AI foreign learning translation systems for text-to-speech services.

But then again, lack of transcreation remains an issue. Other AI-related issues are more morbid, one being a security threat.

After all, we’re feeding tons of data to AI tools. Where does this data go? Can AI companies use this data against their users? Due to these concerns, China, Italy, Iran, Cuba, Russia, and Syria have banned ChatGPT. In fact, some of these issues were recently discussed in an extensive article in Forbes.

Final Words on AI in Marketing

Our final verdict is simple; AI is not there yet. But with the investment and interest pouring into the space, it’s not unlikely for AI to mimic human speech and context in a few years.

But till then, relying on professional translation agencies with expert translators are your best bet. They’re accurate, nuanced, and – most importantly – safe.

What do you think?

Written by Paul Watson

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