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How to improve your localization strategy in 2020

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Updated 09-04-2020

Localization. It’s a word that’s becoming increasingly relevant for the modern business owner. When entering new markets you need to: “think global, but act local” to achieve success.

Finding the right balance between standardizing your marketing strategy or making it more locally targeted is something many companies struggle with. It’s tempting to use one strategy to capture as broad an audience as possible – but this will likely lead to failure.

With personalization top of the list for meeting the needs of your customers, understanding the power they have when it comes to your business is a key realisation many business owners need to understand.

Localization equals personalization. It’s not only key to customer retention and loyalty, but also to helping you expand your customer base.

Speaking to your new audience in a way that resonates with them is undoubtedly going to harness a better connection. Why? 72.1% of consumers surveyed spent most or all of their time on websites in their own language.

And, whilst language is just the beginning of a localization strategy, we’ll help you avoid other potential pitfalls and take a look at how to improve your overall localization strategy and make it adaptable on a local level with our localization checklist.

What is the concept of localization

A good place to start is to properly define what localization means. The official dictionary definition looks like this:

“The process of making something local in character or restricting it to a particular place.”

When we look at it from a business perspective, it can be defined as the process of adapting a product, service or even simply your content to a specific market or country. That pretty much means that adjusting your website, social media and other marketing campaigns to fit those needs will be top of your localization list. 

A key part of localization is without a doubt, language. But, it’s really an umbrella term and by this we mean it’s sensitive to much more than just language. In reality localization takes into account cultural and social preferences and idiosyncrasies of a particular society. If we look at it like this, we need to realize that there are numerous steps other than just translating your content. 

With so much surrounding the concept of localization, it’s vital that your localization strategy is thought out from the very beginning of your global expansion.

What is the primary benefit of a localization strategy

Put simply, a well placed localization strategy enhancers customer experience and allows you to communicate your message to global audiences, whilst keeping your brand identity.

Working on your localization strategy makes your content more appealing and can help increase your overall market share. 

It demonstrates your commitment to doing business in different countries and shows you’re staying long-term (building that trust factor). And, it ensures there are no miscommunication mishaps. 

An effective localization strategy is one of the easiest ways to increase revenue. But where should you start?

Planning your localization strategy

To start with, every business should consider the following aspects: 

  1. Learn from your local audience
  2. Translation and localization
  3. Stand out from the competition
  4. Cater content to each market

Let’s take a look at each aspect in further detail.

1. Learn from your local audience

So, here’s the deal, you can’t produce a localization strategy without understanding the market you’re about to enter. 

Marketing to new audiences can be dangerous if you don’t think ahead and get to know the countries you’ll be doing business in. It can potentially damage your brand reputation and even offend your new target audience if you get your messaging wrong. 

Cultural nuances and imagery are just a couple of things on the list that you’ll need to get right.

So, what’s the first step. Consumer focused research.  

And how do you decide what markets to enter? We’ve spoken about this before. But, to summarize – a good place to start is to look at your Google Analytics to see where your traffic is already coming from. 

Once you’ve decided on the markets you want to enter, you’ll need to determine how strong the market opportunity actually is. 

And, the best way to do this, would be working with a local partner to really understand the needs and values of your new markets. 

Working with local partners is essential. This way, you can be assured you’ll be getting accurate, localized experience and feedback. 

They’ll be able to determine whether there’s a demand for your product, your main competition, how people purchase within that country, cultural differences etc. 

There are a number of simple things that might not mean anything in your home country, but can have a big impact in a new one. Even down to your brand colours – could they offend your new market? 

This information will structure your strategy and is essentially the most important part. Fail to do this, then prepare to move into your new market blind.

2. Translation and localization

We’re specifically talking about website translation here, as, after all you can’t speak to new markets if you’re not offering your products or services in the target language. 

At Weglot, automated translation is something we’re passionate about. 

It’s allowed companies to fast track their website translation and grow into new markets – without having to wait months for human translation and the creation of a new website. Not to mention, the high cost implications both of those options create. 

But: there are differences between translation and localization…

What we’ve always been a big advocate of here at Weglot is using a mix of automation and human translation to fine-tune your translation and optimize it for localization. 

Automated translation provides a fast first layer of translation – saving time (and money) for the translator, who can easily go in and perfect anything, should it be required. 

The benefits of human translation when you’re looking at your localization strategy, is that it will iron out any language nuances and colloquialisms in your new language. It builds trust (that word again) with your new potential customers. 

But, it’s not just words that should be ‘translated’ to give a better sense of localization. Don’t forget about imagery. For example, you wouldn’t have a snowy wintery scene to depict the Christmas period in Australia – it’s these types localization strategies that win you favour in your local markets and help you ‘fit in’.

Once you’ve sorted out the content side of things – don’t forget about SEO. There’s no point having all this translated content if you’re not going to be found in your new markets. 

That’s why we recommend using a website translation solution that takes this into consideration. At Weglot, multilingual SEO is key to what we do. 

You’ll get translated metadata, translated images, video captions etc – bringing together your multilingual localization strategy. It will ensure consumers don’t experience clumsy translations.

And, most importantly, you’ll be found by new potential consumers

3. Stand out from the competition 

You might be tempted to look at an oversaturated market and think there’s no room for you. But, don’t allow this to put you off. 

A competitive market can equal a strong market. 

But, it means you’ll need to stand out. Consider enhancing your offering with features your competitors don’t have. 

And by this, we don’t necessarily mean product wise. But, easy wins such as value-added services, including customer support and reliability (and build that all important trust element again). 

Customer experience is a key aspect to a customer choosing to buy from your brand and what might be the difference between you and a local competitor which has become complacent.

Emphasise your brand values. And adapt them to your new market. Audiences that connect with your views and values are more likely to stay engaged and approach your company with interest. 

Essentially, authenticity sells. And, this is clear in all global markets.

It’s important that your business finds its own brand authenticity and style of customer engagement that makes it stand out from the crowd. 

4. Cater content to each market

When looking at the content marketing side of things, different markets will need different approaches. This can even come down to small things like tone and language of your brand messaging, which might need to be dramatically adjusted for new markets.

It sounds like a lot of work – but in the long run, it will pay off. 

Use what you’ve learnt from your consumer research to determine whether there are any cultural taboos and cultural events that you need to take into consideration, or add into your localization strategy. 

Successful marketing campaigns use the correct channels to target the right audience. Take social media – an area companies are increasingly using to talk to their customers. 

Around 70% of marketers worldwide produce social media content to engage with customers and promote their brand. It’s one of the most used inbound marketing strategies. 

But, having just one social media account for your brand won’t be enough. You’ll need to consider having a specific one for each country to actively get involved in the local community (if you have the resources). 

Just look at China – it doesn’t have the same social media channels as Western Europe. Weibo is the social media of choice here, so again having that local partner who understands this platform will be hugely beneficial.

To be successful on social media, requires more than just creating an online presence. You need to engage with customers and share information relevant to their needs (not just promotional content). 

Summary

Final thought: most importantly, test your localization strategy and what you’re doing in each market. 

You’ve done the research, you’ve understood your new consumers. Now get out there and put it into practice. 

Remember building trust with new audiences takes time. So don’t expect your localization strategy to be an overnight success. 

  • Focus on understanding your new market with consumer focused research – teaming with a local partner is key 
  • Look to localize some of your website content with additional human translations 
  • Stand out from your competition by offering value-added services
  • Produce authentic local content that’s targeted to your audience – the right social media channels, the right offline spaces 

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