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What is localization?

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Landing on a website that hasn’t been designed for you – and by that we mean a different language, wrong currencies or even just images that you don’t connect with – can feel pretty alien to most of us. 

If this is something you’ve experienced, then it’s likely you won’t want your potential customers to feel the same way either. Whilst localization might not be something you’re well versed in, you can certainly start to see its importance. 

For business owners localization is an important subject and consideration if you’re looking to do business in new markets. Let’s take a look at what localization is, what you need to look out for and what steps you need to take to maximise your return on investment. 

What is localization?

Localization or l10n (in some business contexts) can be defined as adapting a product, service or offering to meet the needs of those from a particular market or locale. 

The main goal of localization is to give your product, offering, service or even just simply your content, the feeling that it’s been created specifically for your new target market, irrespective of their language, culture or religion. 

Whilst you’d be right in thinking translation plays a key role in the localization process, there are also other crucial aspects that include:

  • Adapting images, videos, graphics and even emojis 😉 
  • Adjusting content to suit cultural, religious or general preferences 
  • Modifying website design and layout to allow for newly translated text such as right-to-left languages 
  • Converting to local currencies and units of measure
  • Local date formats and phone numbers
  • Adhering to local regulations and legal requirements

Essentially, localization encompasses all the steps taken to personalize an offering to a given consumer group.

Goal of localization is to give your content the feeling it's been created for your new target market

Why is localization important? 

Localization is the backbone of your success if you’re preparing to take your company global. Being able to communicate with your new audience not just on a language basis but in a way where they think your offering is tailored to them – will ultimately lead to triumph. 

Enter new markets 

According to the CSA, 72.4% of consumers said they would be more likely to buy a product with information in their own language. 

The first point, although rather obvious is that localization allows you to enter markets you otherwise wouldn’t be able to without a high level of localization. This is because although there can be many barriers to going global, one of those doesn’t need to be localization. 

Good localization means you’ll avoid any potential cultural misunderstandings that could have a big impact on your brand. 

72.4% of consumers are more likely to buy a product with information in their own language

Increased revenue 

Selling in new markets, to new customers means if you’ve done localization right, it should open up the possibility for more revenue. 

Afterall, the Localization Industry Standards Association (LISA) even released a study showing that on average every €1 spent on localizing your website yields €25 in return.

Competitive edge 

It can be difficult going up against local competitors however what about your global competitors. If they aren’t localizing their product then you’ve got a clear advantage and can make great headway in your new markets. 

What’s the difference between localization and translation? 

We’ve added this here because often both translation and localization can be misunderstood and used interchangeably, but, these terms actually mean two completely different things. 

Localization as we mentioned above is the entire process of adapting a product and service for a particular locale. Translation, however, is simply the process of translating text from one language to another. You can look at translation falling under the umbrella of localization if you like. 

Don’t get us wrong, translation is a crucial part of localization because it simply bridges the language barrier, so whilst you can now talk to your new target audience – further localization of your products or services is advisable to take into account cultural and societal attitudes too. 

The difference between localization and translation

Next steps for localization 

So, what’s next? If you’re ready to start your global expansion, applying localization to your overall business strategy will help you with this exact process. 

Understanding the importance of localization is just the first step – next you’ll need to find the right technology to help you along the way and make the process as easy as possible. 

But, we’re not done yet, we’ve got some important further reading to get your started:

Localization will ultimately help you expand your reach and make your new customers feel more at home. Discover Weglot and try our 10-day free trial to help kick start your localization project. 

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