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What is content localization? And how is it key to building your global audience?

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When Coca-Cola launched in China, they quickly realized the name didn’t quite have the same catchy ring to it. 

In Chinese, the phrase directly translates to “bite the wax tadpole”. This led to a country-specific rebrand. The world-famous drink is now known as Kekoukele in China, which has a much more palatable translation – “tasty fun”. 

But it’s not just brand names that don’t translate well into other languages. This is where content localization comes into play, a.k.a. adapting your content so it resonates with a specific destination. This includes translating it to the local language and making sure the content is presented in a culturally-sensitive way. 

After all, different cultures have unique wants, needs, and interests. 

Applying a scattergun approach or a “one-size-fits-all” strategy to attract a global audience will likely lead to your brand not resonating with anyone in particular. And then there’s the matter of languages. 

The world is full of a rich assortment of languages – both old and new – and consumers obviously prefer to interact with brands in their preferred language. 

In fact, it goes much further than this. Research shows that 40% of consumers won’t buy in another language, while 65% prefer content in their local language. 

Translating your website into different languages is the first step in the process, but content localization goes beyond that; it’s about creating a unique and local experience for each of the markets you plan to target. 

Doing this will help you build and sustain loyal audiences all around the world. What’s not to like? 

What is content localization? 

Content localization is the process of modifying your current content for a specific new market. It’s essential that you understand your content not only needs to be translated for your new audiences but also adapted in such a way that it’s culturally appropriate and understandable for your new target audience. 

A word-for-word translation is likely not enough because of the differences in idioms, cultural sensitivities and language nuances.

Why content localization is key for global growth

Consumers that feel connected spend more 

Customers want to feel connected to brands. When they do, 57% will increase their spending and 76% will buy from them over a competitor. 

It’s like supporting a friend over supporting an acquaintance or a complete stranger.

The tricky part is sparking a connection in the first place. Creating content that aligns with the interests and needs of each target market will help. Showing a vested interest in who they are and what they want will help customers feel understood, respected, and like you “get” them. 

Instead, focus on building out unique content for each of your target markets. 

Here are some top tips for doing that:

Consider your wording

Use words that resonate with your target market. Even different countries that speak the same language have different variations of words they use. 

For example, British people use trainers where Americans use sneakers. It might not seem like much, but if a British person is on your site and sees you regularly referring to “sneakers” they might feel like you aren’t speaking to them. 

Adobe website US version

The Adobe US version and the British version are both in English but feature different content that’s relevant to each individual target market. 

Adobe website UK

Inject local pop culture references

Pop culture varies wildly from place to place. Trending memes and hot celeb gossip in one country might be a complete no-go in another. Research common trends in each place before you start creating localized content and ensure you’re using the right cultural references. 

Share relevant stories

Refer to stories that your target market can relate to. 

For example, if you’re writing for an Indian audience, include Indian characters in your stories and center your narratives around Indian culture and lifestyle. 

Take clothing brand La Machine as an example. They wanted to expand into the German and Dutch markets, so they created localized and translated versions of their sites for both destinations. Even though the majority of their audience in these places could understand English, translating the sites in their local language increased conversions by 25% in these markets

La Machine Cycle club homepage

Forge deeper relationships with loyal customers

Loyal customers are the best kind of customers. They keep coming back for more and they shout about your brand from the rooftops. Gain a following of loyal buyers and your business will quickly become a source of conversation at cocktail parties around the world. 

Show up in local search results 

Just like the words visitors use in different destinations might vary, so too might the search terms they use to find your products or services. 

Localized content lets you target the unique keywords different markets use to help you dominate search results for that destination. 

Let’s use the sneakers vs trainers example again. If your content isn’t localized and you consistently refer to “sneakers”, British visitors may never come across your site simply because they are searching on Google for “trainers” instead. 

For a brand like Ron Dorff, this was key to attracting a global audience. When a French shopper searched for a relevant term on Google, they were immediately presented with the French version of the site and led through a localized journey. Likewise, if a UK buyer landed on the site, they would automatically be presented with the English version. Multilingual SEO is an important part of content localization too. 

Provide a personalized shopping experience 

There’s a large majority of consumers that are still skeptical about online payments. Handing over money into the ether is a scary prospect, which is why we tend to gravitate towards payment options we are familiar with.

The issue is that preferred payment methods vary depending on where in the world your customers are. A shopper in Brazil might prefer to pay via Boleto Bancario, but if they don’t see that option available, they’re likely to go somewhere that does have that option. 

This is actually a huge reason why shoppers abandon their cart without completing their purchase (this, and not showing the price in the shopper’s local currency). 

Building a global audience is all about localizing content throughout the buying journey, right from the homepage to the checkout page. This is key to keeping customers engaged and providing a pain-free browsing experience. 

Localization to go global isn’t counterproductive 

It might seem counterproductive to localize content to reach a global audience, but it creates a far better user experience. 

If each and every individual visitor can have a semi-personalized experience based on their locality, they will feel more connected to your brand and will engage more. As a result, they will recommend you to their friends and peers, come back for more, and turn from one-off visitors into loyal fans. 

Try Weglot for free and start your website localization project instantly.

About the author
The best way to understand the power of Weglot is to see it for yourself. Get your website multilingual live in minutes.
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