What does localization mean?
The world is becoming smaller and smaller, and so are the markets in which businesses operate. If just about a decade ago most businesses were present only in local markets, today even the smallest firms are reaching out to foreign markets. Albeit this trend has been on the rise in recent years, the global pandemic accelerates it even more.
In the fierce competition, companies are looking for different strategies to grow. Yet there is one thing all have in common. To diversity geographically, firms have to translate or localize their content.
Two terms are often used interchangeably, albeit the difference is quite remarkable.
The translation is solely converting your message from one language to another. It is a message adaptation to a different language and a starting point of localization.
Localization on other hand is more than just translation. It means adapting your whole brand to fit the target market. This includes unit and currency conversion, date formats, imagery, communication, legal regulations, etc.
It means changing the messaging to suit the target audiences' needs, beliefs, and cultural context.
How can localization help grow your business?
When firms are entering new markets, they put all their focus on creating a marketing master plan. But a lot of them forget one simple and obvious step in achieving success in a new market. To simply translate their content and offer customer support in the local language. HBR reports that there is a strong link between in-language content and a consumer's likelihood of making a purchase.
The research surveyed 2,430 web consumers in eight countries to learn that:
- 72.1% of consumers spend most or all their time on websites in their local language.
- 72.4% of consumers are more likely to buy a product with information in their language.
- 56.2% of consumers said that the ability to get information in their language is more important than price.
Localization of your content will thus help you build trust and reach a wider audience. All this with help you enhance your global presence and get ahead of your competition.
Research new markets
No matter your localization knowledge, research is key to successful global diversification. You need to understand the culture, market demand, regulation, and all legal requirements needed. Simply adapting your message to a new culture won't always work out.
The next thing is to analyze the local competition and understand your market fit. What value can you bring and how are you different from existing solutions? And most importantly, even if you are a superior brand, why would local customers buy from you?
Getting all legal requirements rights is not only crucial to start monetizing your services in a new market. It is especially important to establish a great first expression. Imagine having legal troubles as soon as a brand enters a market. Being a local customer that never heard of this brand, how would you perceive it?
By doing market research properly, you will meet your customers' needs much more effectively.
Get to know your new audience
After you understand the new market opportunities it is time to learn all about the new audience. What are the cultural differences, how do they communicate and what values do they have?
Spreading your messaging wrong can quickly ruin your business reputation. Let's take Japan, for example, a nation known for emphasizing formality and politeness. Communication and branding that works in the USA, will do more damage than good in Japan. The same goes the other way around.
The next thing to understand is their purchasing behavior. How and when are consumers spending? What deals work for them, and how do they perceive products on the market?
All this is part of creating an effective marketing strategy. Understanding your users and what they want is key to being successful.
Identify the right channels to distribute your content
Before going all in creating a complete localization plan, you need to identify the right channels to share your content. Not every communication and marketing channel will be as effective. It will depend both on the country as well as your audience.
India has the highest CTR for Facebook ads in the world, which makes it a perfect country to distribute all your content through Facebook. The second example is Twitter with most users being from USA and Japan. Very lucrative channel to target founders, and more premium segments.
Alongside choosing platforms to distribute your content you have to decide how you will share it. You can go with infographics, educational graphics, or even hard sale advertising. The important thing is the strategy fits your channel and the local audience.
Some audiences will be more perceptive to video advertising and Youtube educational videos. The other will trust you more with a subtle and humble strategy.
Develop a localization plan
You have gathered a lot of information about new market opportunities and audiences. Now is the time to develop a localization plan. How you will adapt your offering, messaging, and content to the new market.
How to spot a good localization strategy? You can't because the customer experience feels so natural. Humanize your localization in a way users always feel like they are talking to a friendly local company.
It all starts with design and development, and not only when you are already in the market. You should put great effort into adjusting your website to a new market. A localized website will enhance user experience and build trust. Tools like Weglot and Linguana can be life savers in creating multilingual websites. Their powerful plugins allow you to localize all your content without needing internal or external resources.
One of the key aspects of the localization plan is to ensure consistency over all your materials. You should develop your localization kit with information about:
- Your style of communication and tone of voice.
- Common industry or company terms, verbs, or phrases with an explanation of what they mean
- Specific conventions and elements of grammar to avoid, such as contractions.
- Your brand identity and how you want to be perceived in the market.
This will ensure your brand stays true to itself no matter what market you enter.
Maximize international SEO to grow awareness
To become an established brand in every market you will have to foster a good international SEO strategy. A high ranking on Google will result in being discovered by anyone and anywhere. Just think about global brands like Coca-Cola, Spotify, Airbnb, and similar. By investing in localization strategy, they are now the world's famous brand known in practically every market.
As with every strategy, you should start with research. Use tools like Google Analytics to analyze how your website is ranking in a new market. See what keywords are you ranking well, and where you have the most room to grow. Next, you can use tools like Semrush or Ubersuggest to analyze the competition. What pages and keywords are getting them the most traffic, and how can you compete. Once you establish keywords to target it is time to create some high-quality content. Here is a great article by Semrush about content localization that can help you stand apart from the competition and rank higher.
Last but not least, you will also have to put in some work in implementing good technical SEO practices. According to Moz, you will show search engines that your site targets a specific country with:
- Hosting your site on a local IP.
- Linking to local content building.
- Links from local resources.
- Finding ways to rank on local search engines like Yandex in Russia and Baidu in China.
Coming to the end of this article you can understand the impact of localization has on your business. A great localization strategy can help your business skyrocket beyond your local market. But a bad localization strategy can do more harm than good.
When stacking against local competitors, localization will give you a competitive edge. This is why global brands have been heavily investing in it from the very begging. Following a localization strategy since day 1, Airbnb reaches a valuation of over $62B. By creating a multilingual website, they built trust and make travelers more confident in booking their next trip.
CommonSense Advisory reports that 40% of consumers never purchase anything that is in a different language. Almost 80% of consumers want information before purchasing in their local language. Thus almost 70% of internet users use machine translation tools when browsing foreign websites. Knowing these stats, it is no wonder why brands are rushing to create their localization strategies.
When creating your localization strategy remember to follow the step we went through in the article.
- Research new markets to find threads and opportunities.
- Analyze your competitors.
- Get to know your new audience.
- Identify the right channels to push your content.
- Develop a plan and execute it.
- Work on international SEO and get discovered everywhere.
Frequently asked questions
What is the difference between translation and localization?
The difference between translation and localization is, that translation is just one part of localization. The translation is simply converting word for word from one language to another. Localization means adapting your messaging, tone, branding, and visual elements to fit in the cultural context of a new audience.
What does international SEO means?
International SEO means optimizing your website in a way that helps search engines identify which countries you want to target. This allows you to get discovered by users from various countries using different languages.
What does localization mean in marketing?
Localization in marketing means adapting all your marketing materials to fit into a target market. Meaning your marketing material will reflect the needs, culture, interests, and beliefs of customers in a specific area.