If you’re planning to expand your business internationally, you’ll need a localization strategy. When you invest in new languages, you can expect your company to grow. One perfect example is how Asana widened its reach by tapping other languages apart from English.
However, you’ll need commitment across the organization to achieve an excellent, global customer experience. You need to develop a localization strategy and get everyone on the same page.
What Is a Localization Strategy?
A company uses a localization strategy to adapt its message to a particular culture or language. If your business is planning to penetrate a market, you need your website, marketing campaigns, and social media accounts to accommodate the region’s customs and language. The plan will include modifications to the imagery, tone, and subject matter to connect with locals effectively.
The Importance of a Localization Strategy for Global Businesses
When you want to bring an excellent, localized experience to your customers, you need a strategy that goes deep within the business initiatives and projects. What’s more, people in the higher levels of the operational hierarchy should be heavily involved in the discussions.
Let’s go back to Asana’s localization strategy. During earnings calls, C-level executives would always discuss how new languages helped the company grow internationally. They would talk about making the app available to the culture or region they’re targeting.
Even if your company is not as big as Asana, you can still benefit from having a localization strategy. Of course, you need to take a systematic approach when adapting your business to your target language or culture.
8 Tips for Creating an Effective Localization Strategy
Here are some things to remember when creating a localization strategy:
1. Think Two Steps Ahead
The best time to localize your business is now. So, even if you’re just in the planning stages of launching a brand or product, you should consider how your content will communicate to a broader audience. So, you must:
- Develop buyer personas for multiple cultures
- Create messaging that speaks to different local markets
- Focus on personalization and put less priority over universal human experiences
- Generate a source material that consumers from multiple regions can relate to
2. Ask the Right Questions
When you’re planning a localization strategy, you’re making a deliberate choice to invest your resources in expanding your marketing efforts. Some of the initiatives you’ll take include developing locally-driven campaigns or native content. When marketing in other languages, you can also choose localization as your primary marketing method.
In general, localized marketing involves creating messages that resonate with other cultures. It’s all about adapting the entire experience for a region. So, before you invest in localized marketing, you need to consider your company stage, long-term global expansion plan, and scalability. You need to ask the following questions:
- What is the current stage of your business?
- Do you plan on translating specific marketing messages, select pieces of copies, or entire campaigns?
- Do you plan on scaling globally by using localization as your primary marketing method?
Most companies are recommended to start a small localization campaign and test it with new markets. It’s best to get started on the smaller aspects like the key messages, slogans, and CTAs. Gain some traction by running a pilot project. Then, take the data and use it to create a localized experience.
Some startup businesses saw a big improvement in their results when they localized their products for other markets. However, when you’re running a small company, you need to be extremely cautious about your decisions, especially since your resources are limited.
3. Localize Your Website
You’ll need a solid content localization strategy for your website and marketing assets if you want to go global. We can’t stress enough how important it is to begin now. So, evaluate your site and identify the parts that you should prioritize for translation and localization. Next, you have to create a strategy by answering the following questions:
- Which languages and global markets are we targeting?
- How do we translate our company name, tagline, and logo into those cultures and languages?
- How do we optimize the brand and website for those markets’ dominant search engines?
- Have we discussed the plan with our onshore staff members?
You can use these questions as a starting point for the localization strategy you’re developing. Your answers will determine the scope of your plan.
4. Promote Inclusive Localization
When you’re promoting inclusive localization, you are removing language issues to ensure that your customers enjoy a delightful product experience. So, when you work, connect, and communicate, you always put the human element at the center of your operations.
As you enter a new market and develop trust, you need to peel your focus away from your brand and shift it towards the customer. There are several things to consider when creating an inclusive localization strategy. For instance, you also need to concentrate on proper grammar and local linguistic conventions. Otherwise, you’ll risk offending your target market and losing their trust.
Besides the actual translation, you also need to take into account the expectations, language nuances, and cultural norms. Even something as small as honorifics is necessary when the culture puts values in words that express respect and politeness. In most cases, your website can be their first encounter with your brand. So, how you “meet” them through your content matters.
For instance, in Japan, when you interact with customers, you’re expected to add the gender-neutral suffix “sama”. However, being inclusive can also appear in subtle ways. For example, if you have a contact form, you should have space for multiple middle names. After all, this is quite common in Latin American countries.
5. Personalize the Experience
According to Martech, more and more B2b and B2C companies are embracing personalization as part of their marketing strategy. Statistics show that 75% of marketing professionals view understand the importance of real-time personalization. Meanwhile, 94% use their resources on customization and analytics. Even so, 60% find it challenging to achieve effective personalization.
However, the first step to effective personalization is speaking the same language. At GoTranscript, we provide 100% human-generated translation services. Our translators work hard to find a common ground despite the cultural and linguistic differences in the languages. As a result, you can take a more accurate and personalized approach to your localization strategy.
6. Consider Localization During Design and Development
Ideally, you should be thinking about your localization plans as early as the design stage. When you consider adapting your design in the planning stages, you’ll be able to release fully localized web apps, mobile apps, and other products.
Including localization in your early plans allow designers to create mockups and prototypes in Adobe XD, Sketch, or Figma. They can use different languages and see how the design works in various translations. As a result, these designers can consider different locales before writing a single line of code.
Moreover, your team will be able to identify potential design breaks and bugs before they occur. What’s more, you’ll have more time to market your products effectively. A perfect example here is how Withings increased its delivery of localized features by 90% by integrating Figma into its development process.
When you’re creating a user experience prototype, you always check if the text of your primary language fits within the buttons. You also need to check if the layouts change on various devices. During this stage, you should also do the same for your global audience.
7. Prepare Proper Localization Documentation
If you want to future-proof your localization plan, you should document everything about your marketing strategy and brand. So, the first thing you should do is create a style guide that contains the following:
- The tone of voice – formal, friendly, or something in between
- Common company or industry terms, phrases, and acronyms, including what they mean
- What you like and dislike about your competitors
- Specific grammar and style conventions and elements to avoid
- Your company’s personality and brand
Your style guide will determine how translators will adapt your products to a different language. They will ensure that the translation will reflect your brand. Keep in mind that multiple translators may work on your project. So, you need to ensure that everyone is on the same page.
However, you need to think about how your brand will translate to a specific market. Aside from looking at the terms, phrases, and lingo, translators should also make room for cultural differences. All the while, they must ensure that the translation will not lose the qualities that make your brand special.
Proper documentation will give you a good start in deciding how your brand will adapt to the cultural preferences of other markets. The structure of your website should also be properly documented. Of course, don’t forget to highlight the best practices in desktop versus mobile coding and browsing.
Keep in mind that the way people engage with the Internet varies from market to market. So, you should be aware of how your brand identity will be communicated everywhere. Moreover, your website’s foundation should be able to handle different languages appropriately.
8. Let Everyone Be Accountable for the Localization Strategy
Everyone in the company should be part of the localization strategy—from executives to software developers. Your plans should include training for new markets along with education on any localization tools you intend to use. Ideally, you should discuss everything with the following:
- Designers – to allow them to select culturally relevant images and design defensively
- Developers – to let them understand the code implications for various languages
- Marketers – to help them develop campaigns suitable for different markets
- Product managers – to keep them abreast with the latest trends across different markets and to help them stay on top of deadlines
- Business executives and leaders – to let them see how the localization strategy contributes to their overall goals and plans
The entire localization process will require everyone to work. So, the strategy should also be suitable for the team’s skills, goals, and expertise.
How to Build an Effective Localization Strategy
No matter what industry you’re in, you need to determine how your localization strategy will work in your business. Make sure that your plans are adaptable and flexible. What’s more, you should regularly discuss the strategy with your team and create realistic expectations for localization.
If you’re running a software development company, your first decision should be related to how you’ll integrate localization into your current workflow. Ideally, you should use agile localization which allows you to take cross-functional and iterative team collaboration approaches.
Another thing to remember is that you should not wait until the end of the development cycle to get your translations done. Instead, the translation process should be integrated into the development stage. So, when you release new iterations, your translators can simultaneously work on localizing the changes occurring in the product.
Also, as you tap into new markets, this approach will let you see the effects of what you’re doing in real-time. This is something you cannot achieve if you delay the release of a specific part of your website or product just to make way for localization.
When you’re creating a workflow for localization, you can take the following approaches:
- Submitting your files for translation to GoTranscript
- Reviewing the translated materials
- Delivering the translated content to end-users
The source code will come from the developers, and they submit that to marketers or product managers. They will be responsible for submitting the source for translation. The material will then be localized and returned to business stakeholders for evaluation. Once approved, the translated files will be taken by developers and integrated into the source code. Finally, the translations go live.
There are a lot of steps in this process. However, if you hire the right translators, the workflow will be smooth. With GoTranscript’s 100% human-generated translations, you can expect accuracy and prompt delivery.
How to Evaluate Your Localization Strategy
You’ll need to be committed to your localization strategy. Even if you’re outsourcing the translation process, you still need to be invested in it. After all, it also involves reworking your development and design to align with your goals. However, once the strategy is implemented, you will need a way to measure your return on investment (ROI).
Here are some key performance indicators (KPIs) that provide insights into your localization performance:
- Targeted keyword ranking
- Translation costs
- Increasing or decreasing market shares
- Incremental sales in regions covered by the new targeted languages
- Website traffic and views – compare the statistics before and after the localization process
- Conversion rates – check how many of the visitors turned into customers before and after the localization process
- Social media engagement – monitor content shares and engagement, along with brand mentions on social media in your targeted languages and regions
- Customer support cases – check if there’s a decrease in the number of support cases in languages you’ve translated knowledge base articles
Your customers in different markets will feel more comfortable and appreciated if you’ve tailored your services and products according to their cultural needs. Localization allows your organization to reach a wider audience globally and win the trust of new customers.
However, make sure that your language translation is accurate and culturally sensitive. This way, your new audience will comprehend your content and become interested in your company.