Startup Resources

By Yoni Shapira, Partner and Marketing Analyst at

As an international marketing consultant, I’m often tasked with making magic happen for my clients. A typical campaign ask from a client goes something like this:

Provide me with a landing page in 6 languages plus run corresponding online campaigns in all 6 of those languages. Each campaign should link to dozens of sites in the target language and the leads should go to 6 different answering services with sales representatives in 6 different countries. Your budget is a 4-digit number. Go.

The goal is having a Swedish-speaking client read his favorite Swedish news site, where he will see a banner ad in Swedish. The copy should be so compelling that  he will click on it, redirecting him to a landing page in Swedish where he will call a Swedish phone number and speak to a client care representative in…you guessed it, Swedish.

The same goal exists for our Norwegian, Romanian, Dutch, and Polish clients. We’ve built a pretty standard formula at this point:  Landing site → campaign  → call distribution system → client care in the local language, etc.

If this sounds like what you’ve been considering or trying to do, you’re probably wondering how you can actually make it happen—on budget and on time. At, we do so through oDesk, using the platform to provide service in anywhere up to nine different languages. Here’s how I recommend breaking down multilingual online marketing campaigns into digestible steps and how we use oDesk to do it.

1) Write website content, banners, and YouTube ads in English.

We start with writing the web content in English, which should be done in cooperation with the client. We hope to attract organic traffic so it’s wise to run a keyword search with an SEO consultant and make sure the text is rich in those keywords. At this phase we also write the ads for the campaign, a 15-second YouTube video script, and the text for the call center messages.

During this stage, we are creating a bond with the client and building trust, so we are usually working with the client directly instead of delegating work to oDesk freelancers.

2) Create a website wireframe.

At this stage we start creating an advanced landing page, starting with the wireframe—a scheme that details the framework of a website. This helps to move forward by giving us guidelines on what the length of text should be for each component.

To make a proper wireframe, we recruit oDesk freelancers for UI (user interface) and UX (user experience), searching for skills such as wireframing and balsamic (a wireframing software).

3) Have a native English speaker proof the text.

It’s essential to have a native English speaker proofread your text. No matter how many Seinfeld and Simpsons episodes you’ve watched or how many essays you wrote in English class, you still need a native English speaker to catch syntax or grammar errors in your copy.

The freelancers we look for at this point are those with exceptional English skills (as proven through tests), and those who have copywriting, proofreading and marketing experience listed in their profiles. It’s a bonus if the freelancer also has knowledge of SEO, to make sure the copy is optimized as well as correct.

4) Translate the website content and banners.

Translation has to be managed in a very structured and organized manner—because we can’t read or understand the translated versions, we need to know what’s supposed to be written in each piece. To that end, we make sure to name all the files in a systematic way, including the date of the document and its language in the file name.

We also hand the translators a document that has the text structured exactly as it will be structured on the landing page, so the designer and the webmaster know where to locate each piece of text later.

5) Finalize design.

Choosing the designer is probably one of the most important decisions of the project. You should spend a good one to two hours searching for designers, reviewing their portfolios and inviting them to apply to your project.

Remember, designers love clients who are decisive. Putting all the materials in the project description—including the text, wireframes and background materials—not only helps designer candidates fully understand what you are expecting, but will also enable them to send design drafts and ideas with their proposals.

6) Create a multilingual website.

Maintaining a multi-language site will be easier with a good content management system (CMS). It’s also important to consult with an SEO expert, and to implement their guidelines on optimizing the website structure for multi-language SEO.

Tip: Start creating the landing page only after you have finalized the design and the text—it makes this part of the project surprisingly easy and straightforward.

7) Create a multilingual call system IVR.

A call center software answers inbound calls and distributes them to agents. To set this up, it is helpful to consult an interactive voice response (IVR) specialist. You can find IVR freelancers by searching for the terms ‘pbx,’ ‘call center management,’ ‘VOIP’ or ‘IVR.’ You can also set up the call center directly with a hosted phone system provider such as RingCentral or Grasshopper.

8) Recording the greeting messages and YouTube ad voice-over.

After the call system is configured, you need to record greeting messages in each language. We usually recruit voice-over or voice talent freelancers on oDesk to do this, and we use this opportunity to ask the voice-over artist to give feedback on the website translation.

When we use YouTube ads we also record them with a voice-over in each language, as ads in the local language typically generate a dramatically higher click-through rate.

9) Run the campaign.

Running an online marketing campaign is a combination of number-crunching and text ad optimization. A team composed of an online marketing expert and a translator can usually run a foreign language campaign very well, at least at the beginning; when the advertising budget and campaign complexity increase and SEO is required, then you should consider adding an online marketing manager and local language strategy experts as well.

10) Nurture inbound leads.

When it comes to nurturing inbound leads from this campaign, it helps for clients to use one email system and a unified CRM system; we usually recommend Google Apps together with a free Google Apps CRM solution like Insightly or Zoho.

After that—believe it or not—your multilanguage sales and marketing operation is ready to go, and it can actually handle dozens of calls and emails per day. When they call, prospects will probably think that you are running a multinational global S&P 500 company with 300 employees…and hopefully soon it will be true!

Yoni Shapira

Partner and Marketing Analyst at

Yoni Shapira is a partner and marketing analyst at He specializes in online marketing to expats in Germany. Prior to Online Marketers, Yoni founded home4trip, the first short-term rental agency in Israel. Fluent in English, Hebrew and Italian, Yoni now resides in Frankfurt, Germany. Yoni also serves as oDesk's Online Marketing Ambassador, helping other entrepreneurs find success on oDesk.