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How to improve your localization strategy in 2020

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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 and localizing your global marketing strategy is something that many companies struggle with. It’s tempting to use just one strategy across the board to capture as broad an audience as possible – but this will likely lead to failure. Why? Because it lacks personalization.

Localization equals personalization. And personalization is at the top of the list when it comes to meeting the needs of your customers. It’s not only the key to customer retention and loyalty, but it will also help 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.

Language is just the beginning of creating a localized strategy, though –– we want to help you avoid other potential pitfalls. We’ll also take a look at improving your overall localization process and use our localizing checklist to make it adaptable on a local level.

What is the concept of localization

A good place to start is to properly define what localization means. The official dictionary definition is: The process of making something local in character or restricting it to a particular place.

When we look at it from a business perspective, we expand on that simple definition. For our purposes, localization is defined as the process of adapting a product, service and/or content to a specific market or country. At the top of your localizing checklist is adjusting your website, social media and other marketing campaigns to fit those needs. 

A key part of localization is, without a doubt, language. However, since “localization” is an umbrella term, it goes far beyond just language. In reality, localization takes into account cultural preferences, social preferences and idiosyncrasies of a particular society. If we look at it like this, it becomes clear that there are numerous steps to follow 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 will enhance the customer experience and allow you to communicate your message to global audiences while maintaining your brand identity.

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

Furthermore, a localization strategy will demonstrate your commitment to doing business in different countries and show you’re building trust to carry you through the long-term. 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, every business should consider the following when planning their localization strategy: 

  1. How you will learn from your local audience.
  2. Efforts to maximize both high-quality translation and localization.
  3. Ways to stand out from the competition.
  4. Strategies for catering localized content to each international market.

Now, let’s take a look at each aspect in further detail.

1. Learning From Your Local Audience

You cannot produce an effective localization strategy without understanding the international market you’re about to enter. 

Marketing to new audiences can be dangerous if you don’t think ahead. You must 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 the elements that you’ll need to get right.

What’s the first step? Consumer-focused research.  

We’ve spoken at length about deciding which markets to enter, so you’ll definitely want to read our blog post about taking your ecommerce site global. For now, though, start by looking 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. 

The best way to do this is by working with a local partner to really understand the needs and values of your new markets. 

Working with local experts is essential because this is how you’ll get accurate, localized experience and feedback. 

Local partners can help you determine must-knows like whether there’s a demand for your product, which brands are your main competition, how people purchase within that country and the cultural differences to pay close attention to. 

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. For example, you have to consider the details down to your brand colours, since certain colours or colour combinations may offend people in your new international market.

Getting a handle on who your local audience is and what they expect is the most important part of your strategy because it’s what will provide the structure for everything you do after. By failing to complete this step, you’ll be moving into your new market blind. 

2. Maximizing Translation and Localization

We’re specifically talking about website translation here. 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. 

Our language plugin allows companies to fast-track website translation and grow into new marketswithout having to wait months for human translation and the creation of a new website (not to mention paying for the high cost of those options).

To master this step, it’s important to understand the differences between high-quality translation and localization efforts. 

At Weglot, we’ve always been big advocates of mixing automation and human translation to fine-tune your translation and optimize it for localization. 

Automated translation quickly provides a first layer of translation. This saves time for the translator (and money for you) because they can head in to make any required changes, having most of the translation perfected already.

When you’re considering how to localize your strategy, it’s important to note the benefits of human translation, namely these two: 

  • It will iron out language nuances and colloquialisms in your new language that automatic translation can’t catch. 
  • It builds trust (there’s that word again!) with your new potential customers. 

It’s not just words that should be translated to give a better sense of localization, though. What about imagery? You wouldn’t show a snowy winter scene to depict the Christmas period in sunny, warm Australia, would you? It’s these types of detail-oriented and thoughtful localization efforts that win you favour in your local markets and help you fit in with your audience.

Once you’ve sorted out the content localization side of things, don’t forget about SEO. There’s no point in having all this translated content if you’re not going to be found in your new target market, is there? 

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, images, video captions and more to bring together your multilingual localization strategy. This 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 local market and think there’s no room for you. That’s not necessarily true, though, so don’t allow this to put you off. A competitive target market can equal a strong market. 

However, a competitive market does mean that you’ll have to find creative and eye-catching ways to stand out. Consider enhancing your offering with features your competitors don’t have –– fill in that gap that customers want but brands aren’t catering to yet.

We don’t necessarily mean product-wise, either –– you don’t have to create a new line of products just to win favor with your audience. Quicker, easier and more cost-effective wins include creating value-added services, like better customer support or more reliable processes (faster shipping, for example). These are easy changes to implement, and they’ll build that all-important trust element once again.

The customer experience is key to having someone buy from your global brand instead of shopping from a competitor. When a local competitor has become complacent in a certain area of their business, you can swoop in and win over potential customers by fulfilling that need or expectation.

One more tip for creating a competitive advantage: 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.

To recap, it’s important that your business finds its own brand authenticity and style of customer engagement to stand out from the crowd.

4. Cater Content to Each Foreign 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 the tone and language of your brand messaging, which might need to be dramatically adjusted for new markets.

It sounds like a lot of work (and it is), but in the long run, it will pay off. 

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

Successful marketing campaigns use the correct channels to target the right audience. Consider using social media for your campaigns –– companies are increasingly using social channels 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 global 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. 

Just look at China, for example – it doesn’t have the same social media channels as Western Europe. Weibo is the social media of choice here, not Facebook, so working with a local partner who understands the platform will be hugely beneficial.

Being successful on social media requires more than just creating an online presence. Setting up a profile and casually updating it with promotional content isn’t enough. You need to actively engage with customers and share information that’s relevant to their needs and interests. 

Summary

The most important step you can take is testing your localization strategy to determine what you’re doing (and what you need to do) in each foreign market.

You’ve done the research and you understand your new target audience. Now it’s time to get out there and put it into practice. 

Remember that building trust with new audiences takes time. Don’t expect your localization strategy to be an overnight success. Here are a few key takeaways to keep in mind:

  • Focus on understanding your new market with consumer-focused research. Teaming up with a local partner is key.
  • Prioritize website content localization with additional human translations.
  • Stand out from your competition by offering value-added services.
  • Produce authentic local content that’s targeted to your global audience, and use the correct social media channels and offline spaces.
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