Why Copywriting Is a Key Part of Marketing Translation

Last updated Apr 20, 2024
By Lucy Williams

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?

Toolkit to show how important copywriting is for marketing translation.
Copywriting skills are an important part of a marketing-translation toolkit.

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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.

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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. Here’s Why not Using Professional Translators is False Economy.

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.

“If your marketing materials aren’t persuasive, they won’t achieve your aim.”

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 (buy Everybody Writes). 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.

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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</i> 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 headline 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 you 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.

For more information about transcreation and what it involves, read Gwen’s blog What Is Transcreation? Is It Different to Marketing Translation?For examples of why you need a good transcreator, check out my articleTranscreation Examples: the Good, the Bad and the Ugly.

”Marketing translators with copywriting abilities have an added skill set to offer.”

Blogging and social media

As a freelance translator, it’s important to market my own services. One of the ways I do this is by blogging. Understanding copywriting and how to produce highly readable copy helps with my own blog writing.

As a marketing translator and copywriter, I’m sometimes asked to localise blogs. Because I’m a copywriter and blogger myself, it’s a service I can offer as an extra. It’s another string to a translator’s bow. And it means I provide a good service to the customer.

Marketing translators who are trained copywriters can also consider moving into the area of social media. Using their skills to translate copy for social media networks. Some translators and copywriters also offer bilingual copywriting services, where the client explains what they need in one language and the copy is created in another.

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Who needs translators with copywriting skills?

If you need marketing translations, a translator who is also copywriter is your ideal partner. Choose a professional who can offer copywriting and translation for marketing materials that connect with your target customer.

Marketing translators who understand copywriting can craft persuasive texts that get results. Whatever your business, they know how to write for your ideal customer. If you need more information about how to order a translation, read Gwen’s article How to Get a Translation – Complete Customer Guide.

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Written by Lucy Williams

Lucy Williams is a subtitler and a Spanish-English translator for fashion, tourism and luxury goods/services. She holds the CIOL Diploma in Translation and is a native English copywriter specialising in SEO-optimised long-form content. Connect with Lucy on LinkedIn.

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  1. Beth Jones

    Thank you for your excellent post, Lucy!
    I heartily agree with you, because my background in advertising, plus additional copywriting courses, have always stood me (and especially my clients!) in good stead. Translators who have the know-how to effectively sell their clients’ products or companies to the target audience are a boon for any client, because they profit from the effectiveness of the texts their translator’s knowledge of “marketing-speak” and copywriting techniques produces.
    Thanks again and all the best,

    • Lucy Williams

      Thanks for reading, Beth. I’m glad you enjoyed it! I’ve certainly found an understanding of copywriting has helped me with marketing translations.


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